From UFC to ‘Out to Sea’

MEDITERRANEAN SEA – One thing about the Navy is that every Sailor has a different background. Some come from the city and some from the farm. Some joined right out of high school, while others have been to college. Different countries, different languages and different cultures – one thing is sure, each Sailor has a story.

These unique background tales are common currency underway. However, no matter how unique the situation, most Sailors would not expect to meet a Polish financial specialist and UFC fighter during evening sick call aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

“The Navy Core Values really spoke to me and ran parallel with my own values as a martial artist,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tomasz Kotowski. “I knew if I joined it would bring my family pride and give back to the country I live in. That was the reason I enlisted in the Navy.”

Kotowski grew up in Radom, Poland, where he first discovered his strong passion for martial arts. He was a Polish champion in Kyokushin Karate and Muay Thai. In addition, he earned a degree in finance and banking from the Radom University of Finance and Banking before immigrating to the U.S. in 2003.

Shortly after arriving to the U.S., Kotowski continued to pursue his love for martial arts and started to train at the Brazylian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Reno, NV. It was there where he met his coach and sponsor, gym owner Gary Grate – a black belt Brazylian Jiu Jitsu. After a few years of working with Grate, Kotowski was introduced to and training with Hall of Fame UFC fighter Ken Shamrock. Shamrock became his manager and assisted Kotowski in setting up fights and, eventually, becoming a UFC professional fighter.

Kotowski has a professional fighting record of 23 wins and 3 losses in Muay Thai and mixed-martial arts (MMA) throughout the United States, Europe and Thailand.

“Every fight I was in helped me develop an unbroken will,” said Kotowski. “I learned that the key to success is using the right strategy, having realistic and attainable goals and knowing your limitations.”
Kotowski’s time at the gym not only introduced him to the world of UFC, but it is also where he met and trained with Sailors. They left such an impression, he too wanted to join the Navy.

“I am enjoying being in the Navy because all we do is for greater cause,” said Kotowski. “It is a honor and privilege to serve, and it gives me real joy and satisfaction. Being in the Navy gives me also opportunity to travel, learn new skills as a corpsman, and expand on my education.”

Now with six years in the Navy, Kotowski spends his days in the medical department doing what he truly loves most – caring for other people.

“Being a corpsman is a really rewarding job,” Kotowski said with joy. “It’s all about helping people, and that’s what I really wanted to do.”

With his full and varied past, Kotowski imparts valuable advice as well as medical care to his shipmates.

“Focus on what you want and pursue it,” said Kotowski. “The Navy provides opportunities for everyone, whether this is a career for you or not.”

When not providing medical care, Kotowski directs his efforts to refining his officer package and launching a new fitness class for fellow Sailors.

“I’m about to start organizing some Jiu Jitsu classes on the ship,” said a smiling Kotowski. “I’m really excited to share that part of my life with my shipmates.”

Harry S. Truman is currently operating in U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of maritime security operations alongside allies.

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