An athlete since childhood and former college football player, Collin Williams was an early enthusiast of mixed martial arts (MMA). When he couldn’t find a comprehensive program locally, the 34-year-old attorney decided to put Chicago on the fight sport map.

Collin envisioned a boutique MMA and alternative fitness facility that would do two things: provide members top-notch instruction on the best equipment and eventually spread the benefits of MMA training across the Midwest. To make this happen, he turned to Everlast’s premier line of equipment and general manager Mike Bodziach — an MMA fighter who launched his career by stepping into the cage against welterweight champion Dan Hornbuckle.

In January 2011 Collin opened Emerald Smoke MMA, successfully establishing Chicago as a contender in the rapidly growing world of MMA.

Williams earned his Juris Doctor cum laude from Tulane University Law School and his Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College.