Most professional athletes try to compete for a living until the day they can retire. One Rider alum has a different plan.
Bret Perchaluk, a former Rider wrestler, has begun a career in professional mixed martial arts (MMA), but already has future career plans outside of competition. After making a name for himself in the fighting world, the ’07 graduate would like to open his own school with the ambition of helping kids.
“Most pro fighters do it to become famous or to make a lot of money, but my goal as a career is not to fight for the long term,” Perchaluk said. “I got into this because I am good at it, but after I gain more popularity I want to do something with it and help kids like how I was [helped].”
Although the profession of MMA is hard to break into, Perchaluk has begun to see success in the publicity aspect of the sport, putting him one step closer to his dream of opening a martial arts school.
“I want to pursue my business ideas,” he said. “I want to open a school in Brooklyn, which is where I am from. My main reason for wanting this is to help kids and keep them off the streets, away from any trouble. It’s a good way to reach out to the kids in the inner cities.”
Perchaluk also has the idea of giving back to Rider with the concept of Rider scholarship programs.
“I would like to get to the point of giving back to the school that helped me with my career,” he said. “With the wrestling program, there could even be a scholarship program for teenagers to clean up their act and focus their attention on the positive aspects of wrestling. I just want to use the sport as a spring board to give back to the community.”
Starting at the age of 6, Perchaluk began his interest in Kung Fu to teach himself discipline as well as the ability to defend himself. As he entered high school and began wrestling, Ultimate Fighting Championship became popular and Perchaluk found an interest in the new sport. At 16 years old, he took a free class and later decided to devote his spare time to the sport.
“I got sidetracked growing up because my friends just weren’t good for me,” Perchaluk said. “If it wasn’t for wrestling and devoting my time to that, I never would have been pulled away from my friends doing stupid stuff. It definitely changed me for the better. I can say I am a college graduate who has never spent a day in jail.”
Initially, Perchaluk and his potential business partners look forward to having set business plans within the next six months. The team will make plans day by day as each person does personal research for the business. As a token of his success, Perchaluk plans on enjoying his time with the sport, but ultimately will open the schools to give kids a better lifestyle.
“By doing something positive with my accomplishments, I know I was meant to [go to] college to do this,” he said. “Kids don’t see the option unless it is presented to them.”
Since graduation, Perchaluk has competed in Judo at the national level and is currently ranked third in New Jersey after placing in the state tournament. He is also currently on the list of top 100 Jiu Jitsu grapplers on the East Coast because of tournament wins in the North American Grappling Championships, Jiu Jitsu National Tournament, East Coast Grappling Championship and Grapplers Quest National Tournament.
He has seen the positive side of the publicity scale, being featured in a fighting magazine and radio shows as well as being sponsored by American Standup Fighter (clothing and training gear company in Las Vegas/North Carolina), Piranha Gear (clothing and training gear company in California), CageSideMMA.com (clothing and training gear company/distributor) and Bucks County Chiropractic (physical therapy/chiropractic group in Pennsylvania). As of Wednesday, Perchaluk was signed to his newest clothing company, Assassin Fight Wear. After his next fight, there is also talk of sponsorship with Mark Ecko and Ecko Unlimited.
He trains at one of the most successful gyms in the country, the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga. His goal is to win a couple of fights and sign with a major organization.
Perchaluk gives his time at Rider, where he studied pre-law and sociology, much of the credit for the achievements he has been able to accomplish since graduation.
“Because Rider is a small community, I think it helped to set me up to succeed,” he said. “In comparison to other schools, it was a great place to receive a well-rounded education.”
Perchaluk also attributes the success of Rider’s wrestling program to his professional career and future plans.
“With Rider wrestling, there is a long history of success,” Perchaluk said. “It was one of my biggest influences, especially because I didn’t want to let my coaches down.
Wrestling helped me become more physically prepared to become a pro athlete. It helped me turn into an adult and someone to become successful no matter what.”
With potential plans in progress, Perchaluk is focusing his present time on training.
“If I look past my opponents, I will lose and that won’t get me to where I want to be,” Perchaluk said. “For now it is nice to fight and maybe one day be champion, but I do not want to fight as a career, only a part-time one. As for opening a school, it is a priority for me to accomplish my goal of a school.”
Perchaluk will continue his professional fighting career on Dec. 19 in Atlanta, in a charity fight for Toys for Tots.