Pacific Ring Sports was started by Michael Regnier and Alfie Duque. The two met at a boxing gym in San Diego in 2001. Alfie had moved from the San Francisco Bay Area a year before to take a breather from corporate life, where she had worked in biotech for many years, got her MBA, joined high-tech, but got laid off after the dot-com bust. Working out had always been a mainstay in her life, so she trained regularly at the boxing gym across the street from where she lived.
The owner of that gym was looking to replace the kickboxing class with more authentic style kickboxing and had been looking for a top-notch Muay Thai trainer for quite some time. After two years, he finally convinced Michael – who had been teaching and competing in San Francisco for the past 8 years – to head the Muay Thai program. Michael’s classes caught on like wildfire, bringing in waves of people to the gym, where classes often spilled out on to the streets as students became hooked to this authentic style of kickboxing.
But for their own personal reasons, they wanted to move back to the SF Bay Area. Alfie approached Michael about opening up a gym back home. The idea of starting a small business began when she was in business school, and now that she was back in the high tech work force, the possibility of someday leaving the corporate world appealed to her. Not surprisingly, Michael had always dreamed of opening up his own gym in the SF Bay Area but the right circumstances never came about. Alfie’s initial involvement was to develop the plan, launch the business, and invest in the gym. However, when the two began to pull their knowledge and resources together, they saw that their very different backgrounds and experiences could contribute to a successful gym.
They thought about opening up a gym in Santa Cruz where Alfie had done her undergrad. They found an old lodge in the middle of downtown Santa Cruz that seemed a perfect place for what they had in mind. In early 2004, they formed “Pacific Kickboxing”, named after Pacific Lane – the street where the gym was to be located. As fate would have it, the location fell through. Several months later, after looking at a number of Bay Area cities, it was Michael who became convinced that Oakland was the best place to begin a Muay Thai gym. He had lived in Oakland before and saw that there was a lot of untapped talent in the neighborhood and that Muay Thai was not yet fully introduced to the area.
Michael’s hunch was right because the gym today, with its old school, neighborhood feel, and the widespread interest in the art makes it a perfect fit in Oakland. The gym became “Pacific Ring Sports” when Boxing, Jiu Jitsu and MMA were added.