It started in a Salisbury video store looking at fighting videos.
That’s where Jacob Poss was when his life took a dramatic turn. It was 2005 and he was nearing graduation from Salisbury University with no direction in life. Life for the former Poolesville High School football and basketball player now revolved around partying. Athletics was a memory and it showed in his body, which Poss described as “skinny fat.”
Then Miles Moffitt, the owner of a local jiu jitsu studio, approached him about trying out the sport.
“I talked to my dad and he said I should put my effort into that so I have an athletic outlet; something to keep me busy,” Poss said. “I took a muay thai class and I was hooked immediately.”
Four months later, Poss had his first fight and he hasn’t looked back since. He continued his training and turned professional this year, fighting as a kickboxer.
A 2001 graduate of Poolesville, Poss never wrestled and he never really considered fighting.
Still, he loved watching it and grew up idolizing the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee.
His first fight was in April 2005 and he won in the first round by knockout.
He tried mixed martial arts soon after, but didn’t enjoy fighting on the ground and preferred muay thai, which still allows punches, kicks, knees and elbows as long as the fighter is standing.
In August 2007, Poss started working and living at LA Boxing in Chantilly, Va. Poss said he lived under the boxing ring.
“It was exactly what I needed at the time,” he said. “I could train whenever I wanted and work when I felt like it. It was the best-case scenario for me at the time.”
That led to a chance at the 2008 IFK World Classic Amateur World Championship Muay Thai tournament, which he won in the 179-pound light heavyweight division.
Soon after, he decided he had to move to California where he said the top muay thai gyms are located.
In 2010, living in Westwood, Calif., he started training with Jason Park, now his head trainer.
Park, a former fighter who studied muay thai in Thailand, knew Poss had the potential to turn professional in April of last year at a Thai New Year fight. Still fighting as an amateur, Poss won the fight and Park said he made it look easy.
“It was the first time we saw how well and efficient it is if we work together,” Park said. “He always worked on his own, he was always hard working and never talked the talk. Sometimes I wished he did a little more. But he always brings it.”
Poss knew he couldn’t fight as an amateur for much longer. He was 28 and either needed to commit to becoming a professional or find something else to do.
Poss started training extensively with Park, beginning with basics and slow movements before picking up the pace. Park saw dramatic improvement in Poss’s fundamentals and in February, Poss fought his first professional bout.
Fighting Afam Egbochuku, Poss had a strong showing early on, but was caught by an Egbochuku counter punch in the second round and was knocked out.
Park and Poss went back to the drawing table, reviewing the tape to find mistakes, and increased the intensity of his training sessions.
His second professional fight was against Jason Rzepka on April 6 and the result was much better. Poss hit Rzepka with a flying knee in the first round for a knockout.
Now that he’s turned professional, Poss hopes he can continue to find success for years to come.
“I think I have a good five years to try to get where I want to go,” he said. “I have a wife and I want to start a family. Who knows what happens in the next five years? But I think I can be young and healthy and strong until then, so I might as well.”