John Gooden launches online fundraiser for UK gyms struggling during COVID-19 pandemic

John Gooden

With lockdown rules lifting in England, Wales and most of Scotland, gyms up and down the United Kingdom have been able to reopen their doors for the first time in what feels like an eternity, as gymgoers flock in their droves to get themselves in shape for the summer break.  

Some, however, are far less fortunate than others, as many are facing the threat of closure due to the financial costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. British MMA gyms, in particular, have been among those most badly affected by lockdowns and subsequent restrictions.  

But it's not all doom and gloom. UFC commentator John Gooden has launched an online fundraising campaign to help those in dire need of financial support. 

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering he's been involved in mixed martial arts nearly all of his life. 

Asked to share some thoughts on the kind of issues facing independent MMA gyms, Gooden exclusively told GIVEMESPORT: "MMA just doesn't have the recognition that other sports do. It doesn't have the backing from the authorities that other sports do. There isn't a lot of money in MMA. 

"So it's harder for these gym owners to look to an organisation and authority where they can get help, whatever that might be - financial, legal, maintenance, etc, etc. It's a very, very tough time. 

"I know that there are organisations like the IMMAF that are developing all the time, and trying to do their best, but it's still in the early stages of its infancy."

Never one to sit idly and watch from the sidelines (especially in the face of what has amounted to a threat to the community he holds so dear), Gooden decided to do something about it.  

"I felt like I needed to help out like the community has helped me out in the past," he added.

"If it hadn't been for these gym owners letting me into their gyms to speak to their fighters, promoters inviting me onto their shows and giving me a microphone to hone my skills, I wouldn't be who I am today.

"So I owe an awful lot to this community and I'll always try my best to help out in whichever way I can when time permits and the opportunities present themselves to get involved."

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He continued: "But I then thought, 'Well, what can I do in this situation?' I thought I could use my platform to spread awareness. That's one thing. But that doesn't really help directly.

"So I set up a GoFundMe to try and raise some funds and it started to feel like it could get a bit bigger than that. Then I spoke to the UFC and they got on board.

"Then I started piecing together a vehicle by which I could take donations, receive items for auction, but at the same time tried to discover the gyms that could do with some assistance, and then put together a process by which the public votes on which gym and or gyms can benefit from the proceeds of a fundraiser, and I called the fundraiser 'Keeping The lights On.'"

Just a few months after setting up the page, donations have started to flood in. Gooden, who also works as a producer and backstage reporter for the UFC, has made a private donation to the fundraiser himself.

The UFC has also made its own contribution, while fighters like Arnold AllenDarren Till, Leon Edwards and Jake Hadley have all donated items for the auction, which Gooden appreciates greatly. 

"It's been really nice. People are always happy to see one of their own helping out and it's been great to see the fighters put their hand up very quickly.

"For example, I went up to Leon Edwards' gym, I got him to sign the T-shirt, and he was more than happy to help.

"It's a small thing that they're doing but it means a lot to me and I really appreciate it."

For more information on Keeping The Lights On, visit

To donate to the GoFundMe appeal, click here

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