Rhode Island’s mixed martial arts community lost one of its premier figures and founding fathers early Monday morning when Pawtucket native Manny Neves passed away. He was 45.
Neves wore many hats in the fight business. He was an MMA fighter, Muay Thai fighter, and kickboxer. He was a trainer, a gym owner, and during the 2000s (when MMA shows weren’t allowed in Rhode Island), a promoter of several Massachusetts events.
Neves, who was inducted into the U.S.A. Martial Arts of Hall of Fame as an instructor and a competitor in 2007, had an 112-12 record in a fighting career that spanned more than a quarter of a century, and in 2007, saw him claim the Muay Thai world light heavyweight championship.
Neves was also a gym owner since 1983, and earlier this year, he moved his Elite MMA facility from Smithfield Avenue in Pawtucket to a 12,000-square foot compound on Walker Street in Lincoln.