DEMOPOLIS, Ala. — Brett Schroeder is a junior at Demopolis High School, and on Saturday he will compete in his first mixed martial arts fight at Strikehard 50 in Irondale. He’s only 16 years old, but in the cage he’s known as the Hit Man. It comes from a competitive edge only his family understands.

Ross Martial Arts is a staple in Demopolis. The gym has been around for over 20 years and trains athletes of all ages. Schroeder is a product of the Ross gym.

“I love doing this,” he said. “At a young age, you don’t want to do much. You want to play video games, but I always loved to fight.”
“For Brett it gave him a focus that I think a lot of teenagers don’t have,” his mother Ronda Ross Russell said.

And Brett has a support system that a lot of teenagers don’t have.

“You know, my mom and my grandfather before her, they were all great martial artists,” Schroeder said. “They’ve all [garnered]a lifetime of accomplishments.”

One of those accomplishments is Ross gym, which at one time was operated by Brett’s grandfather and now by his mother and father.

“It’s been a long time that we’ve had the gym,” Russell said, “and it’s been Team Ross ever since.”

This is where Brett train, alongside his mother and even his 72-year-old grandfather.

“You would not believe some of the stuff I’ve seen him do,” Schroeder said. “He’s crazy. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s goals. He’s what I want to be when I’m older.”

And he’s part of the reason Brett has the mental toughness to compete in mixed martial arts.

“I would not be the person I am today if it was not for the people that brought me up,” Schroeder said.

It’s Team Ross in and out of the cage.

“Brett’s got a lot of heart, but I always tell him, ‘First generation legacy. All you’ve got to do is keep doing what you want to do and live your dream,’” Russell said.

It’s a dream that begins Saturday night in his MMA debut.

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