Clinton Preacher and MMA coach teaches kids more than just kickboxing

CLINTON, Iowa-- Todd Monaghan wishes he could've boxed when he was a kid.

"I believe that if I was able to box or do something like that as a kid, I wouldn't have had as many struggles as I had," Monaghan said.

Now, he's trying to help kids going through their own struggles have brighter futures.

"We have some kids who really didn't have any aspirations or goals," he said. "Now they want to be Olympians."

After competing as a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter and winning over half a dozen titles, Monaghan said he was called to do something else.

"The Lord told me it was time to stop fighting and start preaching and put all my focus into that," he explained.

He became a preacher and pursues his vocation full-time. Then, three years ago this month, he opened Iowa Top Team MMA.

He said his students come from a wide variety of backgrounds. He said some kids are privileged, others are not.

"We have some kids whose parents are locked up and in prison," Monaghan said. "We have some kids whose parents have died. We have some young kids that come in here that have ADHD, or some of them are foster kids, some of them come from rough environments. And some of them just need to be loved on, and we just love on them here."

One of the kids he's helped is 13-year-old Ethan Turman.

"Before I started boxing, I was rude to my mom. I didn't want to listen to her. I was yelling at my teachers," he explained.

Turman came to Top Team MMA when he was in sixth grade.

"He would throw gloves. He would get upset," Monaghan said. "He definitely was not an individual who could teach kids because he was a poor example."

But that slowly started to change. Turman said he started to learn discipline and how to manage his anger and frustration.

"So when I get frustrated, I can let it out on the bags," he said. "The punching bags, I can let my anger out there."

Now, Turman is coaching other kids.

"Since he's been coaching and since he's been boxing here, he's had a better relationship with his mother. He has a better relationship with his teachers at school. He's getting better grades. We have a better relationship. He's just turning into a fine young man," Monaghan said.

Monaghan said boxing, kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu teach kids discipline, respect, and goal-setting.

"The gym is a magical place. The gym did it on its own. There's not a lot that I've had to do," he said.