“The most important single influence in the life of a person is another person … who is worthy of emulation,” said Dr. Paul D. Shafer, former president of the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights.
Muhsin Corbbrey, a three-sport professional athlete, martial arts academy owner, family man, and student is, for all intent and purposes, a person worthy of emulation.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Corbbrey grew up in what he dubbed “extreme poverty”, living in both his mother’s trailer in the country and his father’s home in the city.
Fortunately Corbbrey, who shuddered when thinking about where he might be had he not found an outlet for his energy in his youth, became infatuated with martial arts at a young age. In the world of combat sports, Corbbrey not only found an outlet for his energy, but also a means to remove himself from the poverty that he was seemingly born into.
“Martial arts have been a huge part of my life,” he said. “I can’t remember a point in my life when martial arts didn’t play a major role in my life.
“As a kid, I always wanted something better for myself and for the people around me. Martial arts always gave me that. I realized really early on that martial arts could make me a better person too, because it gives you the tools that you need to be successful.”
Since focusing his efforts on martial arts, Corbbrey has contested over a dozen boxing matches and has traveled to Thailand to train and compete as a professional Muay Thai kickboxer.
While the 33-year-old still intends on competing in boxing and kickboxing in the future, it has been the world of mixed martial arts where he has made the biggest impact.
Widely regarded as one of the top mixed martial artists to not yet compete in the UFC, Corbbrey has contested bouts in ShoXC, EliteXC, and the WEC. During that time, he has been in the ring with fighters like Nick Diaz, Jim Miller, and Anthony Njokuani.
Outside of his own fighting career, Corbbrey’s martial arts academy in Savannah, Georgia, Champions Training Center, is home to dozens of amateur and professional mixed martial artists including Stephen Bass, who appeared on Season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Although Corbbrey still has lofty aspirations in combat sports, as per his intentions since the very beginning, he is still planning on using his time in the fight-game as merely a means to an end.
“Just like everyone else in this sport, my eyes are on the prize, so of course that UFC run is the major goal at this point. We’re hustling and everything that we do is to show these guys that we deserve to be in the mix,” said Corbbrey, who will likely return to the ring in December. “I know – and everybody that’s seen me fight knows – that I’m one of the best guys out there. I’ve just got to put it together and show these guys that I can do it.
“My goals have always been intertwined, though. I have things that I want to accomplish in the fight-world, but I have very specific goals in activism and changes in the real world that I want to see made. There is a lot of work to be done.”
In an effort to accomplish his goals outside of martial arts, Corbbrey has been a full-time university student for the last year and a half.
“I decided to go back to school to get my undergraduate degree in political science and to minor in journalism,” he said. “I’ll go for my master’s in public administration. By then, I should be done with fighting and I’ll probably go to law school.”
With his education – and the platform that he has established from the fight-game – Corbbrey is hoping to devote his life to inspiring social change for future generations. According to Corbbrey, who is just as comfortable conversing about the conflict in Libya and campaign finance laws as he is about martial arts and training, this is the end that he has long been working towards.
Why then, is a man that could easily make a handsome living off of collecting fight purses and gym-dues, striving for more than a comfortable living in the world of martial arts?
“We’re here to progress. Unless we all progress and try to attain knowledge, the people that are controlling us — because we are being controlled right now — are going to continue to control us. I just want to make a change and educate people on how we can make this thing work for us,” Corbbrey, who earned a degree in public health in the mid-2000s, explained. “At the end of the day, our founding fathers created this for us. This system is set up for us to have control of, but we’ve just given it away – we’ve given it away. None of this stuff would happen unless we let it happen and we’re letting it happen. I want to educate people about that.
“It’s all up to us,” he added. “I’m just trying to do my part. I accept that I'm a role model, but that is not why I do this. God willing, I’ll be remembered for the positive things that I do.”