James Hammortree

Five seconds. One swing. A mere flash in time that still marks the Florida record for fastest knockout in a Mixed Martial Arts match.

The owner of that record is Zen Planner customer James Hammortree, a 2010 contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, a UFC reality TV show. Just one month previous to his record-setting knockout, he put an opponent out in eight seconds. Thirteen seconds – two knockouts.

Not that Mixed Martials Arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are even remotely comparable to professional boxing, but consider this stat for comparison’s sake: Mike’s Tyson’s fastest knockout clocked in at 30 seconds. While the two sports are loosely connected, there is no questioning that respect for a knockout in so few seconds is equally celebrated by both fight types.

Remember. Five seconds. [Link To Video]

Currently 6-2 as a professional fighter in the UFC, James is trying to balance his life as a boyfriend, firefighter, business owner and professional fighter. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.  Well, at least there wouldn’t be for the average person, but James is anything but your average person.

His career has stalled a bit since being eliminated from The Ultimate Fighter contest, but only because he refocused his time to accommodate starting his business. His goal is to not only get back into Dana White’s wildly successful fight sport, but to get to the top.

“The hard work will get me there,” he said. “I’ll never quit. Someone on the show (The Ultimate Fighter) said I do everything like my family is being held hostage, like life is at stake.”

James is a tough, tough guy, known for being relentless, a guy that you literally have to knock out cold to defeat. You want him on your side. He’s also the kind of guy a dad wants his daughter to meet. His girlfriend, Caitlin Damiani, is currently turning the front of his gym, Hammor’s House of Fitness, into a nail studio.

“I let her give me manicures to practice for the opening,” he said.

I had the great pleasure of meeting James in May when he called me to talk about using Zen Planner’s member management and billing software for his new gym, in Ocala, FL. Right from the start, I knew James was going to be successful. He holds, without question, two of the most unselfish jobs in America: Firefighter and Paramedic.

My level of respect skyrocketed when I discovered that he is a Firefighter/Paramedic.  For four years I chased fire trucks and police cars while a newspaper reporter. I’ve seen firsthand what they deal with. Firefighters are the backbone of our world. They are the first on the scene. They see on a daily basis, the best and worse of humanity. Often unseen, and rightfully so, is the great amount of tragedy a firefighter experiences. It takes great composure and fortitude to manage the good and the bad as a first responder. The nature of the job itself mandates certain quality traits like courage, patience, mental and physical might, selflessness and probably most importantly, compassion.

When James qualified for the Ultimate Fighter, which aired on Spike TV, he was away from his job 3 months. To speak more to the character of a firefighter, the fire crew at James’ station volunteered to cover his 24-hour shifts while he was on the show. In all, they covered 30 shifts for James.

“That was the only reason I was even close to being able to go out there,” James said. “They’re (his coworkers) my brothers from another mother. They really came through for me.”

I have to say, that is one of greatest, most selfless gifts I believe I have ever heard of.

Let’s now take a look at James’ current schedule, which would drive most of us completely insane. He works 24-hour shifts as a firefighter, then is off for 48 hours, of which he dedicates nearly all of to running his gym. Factor in as well that James is still pursuing a career in the UFC and has to train nearly every day to even remain competitive and you’re talking about a level of determination few possess.

And it is this hunger that gave him the opportunity to be on The Ultimate Fighter. His drive has pushed his business to grow to 75 members in a few short months and “put Hammor’s House of Fitness on the map,” he said.

“All the hard work, the grind, has been tough,” James said. “I literally for two years didn’t have a friend. I went to the fire department for 24 hours and the other 48 I was training. It was a huge sacrifice.”

Becoming a professional athlete is something James always dreamed of and is achieving. His childhood was not one of want, but his parents made him earn his way. They planted the seed of hard work. The next steps are to work his way toward his dream of being a champion, all while working toward his 300th member at his gym, which he expects to happen soon.

The name recognition that would come from being invited back into the UFC alone would equate to new members.

James is built for success and the Zen Planner team is truly proud to be an integral part of his success. Thanks for inspiring us all, James!