By: Nancy Marchbanks
In 2004, Glenn opened yet another door of opportunity to his entertainment career. “Mattina Entertainment Company” promoted a fight at the Beau Rivage Casino Resort featuring five time world champion boxer, Hector “Macho” Camancho. “If it had not been for some of the wrong choices I made in years past, I would have never been able to meet, let alone promote Hector in 2002,” Glenn said. He had spent time in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and while he was there he became acquainted with a family member of Hector’s, “Rau” from Puerto Rico. The two became friends while they served as catholic chaplain orderlies for mass each Sunday. Rau was anxious for Hector to get in touch with Glenn, when he found out he was a promoter on the Gulf Coast. Glenn continued, “He wanted me to promote a fight for Hector in ‘Little Vegas’ (Biloxi) upon my return home. True to his word, one day the phone rang and to my surprise it was the Champ himself! He said to me, ‘this is Macho Time!’” The end result was the five time world champion fighting for Mattina Entertainment at the Beau Rivage. “The fact that I was away, only enhanced my management opportunities. I made the best use of my time and great things started happening,” Glenn said.
This new genre of promoting sporting events fit Mattina like the proverbial glove. Soon, he would become acquainted with and begin a business relationship with, Roy Jones Jr, aka “Captain Hook.” Jones is the only boxer in history to start his career as a junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight title. “I was Roy’s local point person. I managed all of his marketing and promotional needs while promoting two fights in Biloxi; the first at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, and the second at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Roy’s manager, Magee Wright and I worked side by side. I learned more about promoting sporting events, but on a much grander scale,” Glenn said. The three gentlemen are still friends to this day, and look forward to working together again to organize charitable events on the Coast. “It was such an honor to work with Roy Jones Jr. He is one of the greatest boxers and world champions of all time,” Glenn added.
Mattina has always loved kids and has a special place in his heart for children’s charity events. In November of 2002, Glenn joined forces with “The Young Business Leaders Association.” The group consisted of Coast businessmen; Windy Swetman lll, Thom Newman, Michael Janus, Fred Lusk Jr, Jay Foster, and Jamie Creel, to name a few. “We organized the first ever, ‘3 Doors Down and Friends’ fundraiser at the Upstairs Downstairs. Brad Arnold, Todd Harrell, and Chris Henderson from 3DD attended the event and even jammed with the local band during the night as an extra treat for all who attended. The event raised over $10,000,” Glenn said. The following year, thanks to John Furucci, who was the General Manager of Casino Magic Biloxi at the time, the “3 Doors Down and Friends” charity event was moved to the Casino Magic property. The grand total raised for the second event was over $20,000. All the proceeds went to help build soccer fields in Jackson County.
Glenn Mattina has always had a passion for Baseball, and he loves coaching. Last year, at this time, he was coaching the Biloxi Bombers. It was the same group of boys that Glenn had coached when they were 8 years old, and now they were 11. The team was a USSSA Baseball Travel Team and they planned to go to Omaha, Nebraska to play in a national tournament…it was going to be a very expensive trip. Glenn partnered with the team parents and some friends to help with the travel costs. Together, they organized a charity event at the Beau Rivage calling it “The Road To Omaha.” It was so successful that over $30,000 was raised for the Bombers! “I am and always will be, eager and willing to put together fund raisers for children’s charities and special functions,” Glenn said.
Mississippi Media Broadcasting supports Mattina’s projects and business ventures without reservation. “My employer supports me in all that I do, as long as I continue to produce for them. I am very thankful for that. Being a promoter is what landed me my position with them in the first place, there were never any secrets about my passion to promote events. I certainly understand how it all works…in order to get something, you first have to give something back. Mississippi Media is my first responsibility day in and day out,” Glenn said.
The man seems to work around the clock, but he thrives on pressure. He gives 110% to every project and every event. He shines his brightest when things are at a fevered pitch; the wheels are always turning and he loves a challenge.”Everything begins with my career in radio, and I am relentless in my pursuit of excellence for the company…nothing comes before that. It is a wonderful arrangement because I am a client to Mississippi Media, as well as an employee! I work extremely hard but I love what I do, so it’s not like working at all,” Glenn said. He is his happiest, and has more fun when he is thriving and competing in business. Having many projects going on all at the same time provides him with great challenges. Glenn continued, “I intend to win while I am having fun!”
Mattina’s partner in life and in business is his beautiful wife, Dawn. Together they are the driving force behind Go To Places Monthly and most recently, Atlas Fights. “If I had not made the wrong choices or the mistakes in my life…I would never have met Dawn. This is yet another reason why I wouldn’t take anything back that has happened to me through the years. She is everything to me…my partner, lover, and best friend…she is also a very smart and savvy lady,” Glenn said. Dawn has run a multi million dollar company, and she has known great financial success in business. He continued, “She can do anything on her own and I trust her instincts completely, but I am so thankful we do our business ventures together.”
The relationship with Roy Jones Jr. lead to a meeting with the currently Memphis based promoter, Tyler Sory, and current Atlas Fights Matchmaker, Paul Andres Domenech. Sory’s and Domenech’s niche was Mixed Martial Arts, which is the fastest growing sport in the world today, just behind NASCAR. Glenn was asked to be the Point Man with marketing and promoting fights for Sory in Destin, Florida. He immediately went to work in the Destin/Ft. Walton Beach market. Mattina met with all representatives in print, television, radio media, and the potential sponsors. He developed a compete marketing advertising and promotional campaign for the MMA events in Florida.
As he attended the fights at the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Destin, Mattina became a huge fan of the sport, He was also very excited about the Florida based business opportunity. Glenn spent more and more time working with Sory and Domenech, and couldn’t get enough of this new genre of entertainment. “These fighters were all pros and they were phenomenal athletes. When I saw the level of professionalism and talent, as well as the organization of the event…I knew that I had to bring it to a Biloxi casino,” he said.
Soon after, during a dinner engagement with his wife, a conversation ensued between them about the excitement of this new MMA opportunity. The conversation was overheard by IP executives, Brad Rhines and John Lucas, as they all dined at the beautiful “thirty two” restaurant within the IP property. Rhines stopped Mattina and said, “Why go to Florida? Why promote an MMA fight there? Promote a fight HERE! You need to bring those fights here to the Coast, and if you do, you can count on my full support!” It was a match made in heaven. Glenn began promoting MMA Cage Fights with no intention of it becoming a day to day business, but it truly took on a life of it’s own. “It has been one great opportunity after another, and here we are 3 years later. We have promoted 16 fights in 31 months, that is why we are the regions premiere MMA fight company. Atlas Fights is the most productive MMA company in the region! WOW,” said Mattina.
When he had everything (organized expenses, potential fight card, and marketing plan) in place, Glenn contacted Mr, Rhines for a meeting to work on finalizing the deal. The partnership was completed with Tyler Sory and Paul Domenech, who is one of America’s top Matchmakers. The Matchmaker is the Point person who selects the fighters pool for the promoter to review and research each fighter. Then together, they create the most well balanced fight card that the budget will allow. “I truly believe if we surround ourselves with the most competent people, that have the share the same passion, good things will come from your circle of trusted and tested Point people…you must also pay them what they are worth. This is why I believe I am able to balance all of my business pursuits…this is why I can do what I do,” Glenn said.
Glenn Mattina is a fierce competitor. He loves to spar in business with a good, fair fight and expects the same in return,. Unfortunately, things did not work out between Glenn and Sory, and they eventually parted ways. “Tyler is a great guy but I needed to run faster and he was happy just to walk. He introduced me to one of the country’s best Matchmakers in the MMA business, as well as helping get Atlas off the ground here on the Coast. I will always be grateful for that,” said Glenn.
In the beginning, although all the fights were well matched, it was necessary to fine tune the overall fight night experience for the fans. When it was clear that there was a substantial audience for the sport of MMA on the Coast, Glenn went back to the drawing board in order to create a brand for Atlas Fights and to heighten the interest even further. The brand and the product was now called, “Cage Rage.” An advertising, marketing, and promotional campaign went into full throttle. In 2009, Atlas Fights hosted 3 unsecured individual fights; USA vs Brazil was the first in February. The two “Cage Rage fights at the IP Casino Resort Spa, brought in very satisfactory results for Atlas and the IP. The interest in MMA Cage Fighting at the IP Casino had intensified. Brad Rhines called a meeting with Glenn Mattina and offered Atlas Fights three fight dates for the year 2010. “After that offer from Brad Rhines, I knew that we had stumbled on a great opportunity with Atlas Fights – BAM! We were really in business! I know that the IP Casino Resort Spa, as well as most casinos, only attach themselves to the very best. For them to enter into a three fight contract with Atlas Fights spoke volumes…now I knew we had really arrived,” Glenn said.
Dawn Mattina is the ever present source of strength and confidence behind the man. She oversees all the administration and financial aspects of Atlas Fights. The accounting, bookkeeping, and all administrative responsibilities are hers. She never misses attending an Atlas event, while also handling ticket sales through all fighters, the VIP intricacies, and making sure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed. “We are a great team. I know that Dawn always has everything under control which allows me to excel even further. I could not do what I do without her. My wife is a winner,” said Glenn.
Years ago, Glenn Mattina formulated “Casino Action,” which was the first local publication that focused exclusively on gaming and the local casinos. At the time, there were only four operating casinos but the market was steadily growing…the paper was a huge hit. Glenn partnered with Mark Wright and Steve Singleterry of Knight-Abbey Commercial Printers. “Casino Action” was available for all casino employees to enjoy in the break rooms, and was also distributed to the general public. Glenn explained, “Unfortunately, we didn’t stay focused and let a golden opportunity slip away…I still think about what could have been. The experience was invaluable however and it laid the groundwork for Go To Places Monthly. GTP is unique and diverse. We made sure we were not duplicating or in competition with any other local publication. We also follow our own brand, design, and concept. This is our 4th year in distribution. We have been very blessed to have survived and succeeded during today’s hard economic times.”
During October of last year, Glenn Mattina Sr, became ill. He was no longer capable of running the Upstairs Downstairs. Despite all the other business ventures and enormous responsibilities that Glenn and Dawn had already been managing, they decided to take over operations of the legendary, downtown Biloxi night club. A family meeting was held at the club, and the business was offered to any family member that wanted to try and make a go of it…no one was interested. “Dawn and I got the business by default. The family told me that since I was the oldest, I should take it over. I really did not want it because I had been out of that kind of business for a very long time. The night club/restaurant business…you don’t run it…it runs you and requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication. We were already spread rather thin, but someone had to step up…so Dawn and I did,” Glenn said.
A well seasoned club manager by the name of Greg Miller accepted the job offer of General Manager. Miller has been in the business for years and ran the now defunct Guitars and Cadillacs, which was the biggest night club, dance club, and live entertainment venue anywhere in the South. Glenn had worked with Greg Miller on several promotions at Guitars and Cadillacs before. He knew the man could hire a staff and handle anything that came along. With Greg at the helm, Glenn was able to focus more clearly on other matters.
In the meantime, the couple made daily visits to the hospital to visit Glenn’s father, as they began taking over operations at the Stairs. In addition, they somehow continued to manage Atlas Fights, Go To Places Monthly, and Glenn also worked every day maintaining at Mississippi Media. When Dawn and Glenn took over management of the Stairs, they decided that in order to re-establish the brand and the image after the 33 years in business, it was time to remodel the existing property.
They spent seven days a week at the site, overseeing the entire process. They were exhausted and the stress was becoming overwhelming. Most mornings Glenn woke up feeling very ill. He was worried about his father’s health, and also fearful about the new venture. He began to question the decisions he had made in regard to the Stairs, and prayed daily that everything would turn out alright. “Believe it or not, I am a very devout man. Prayer has always been a very important part of my life. I keep my faith strong. I felt that regardless of the stress, this was something I had to do for my father, my family, and even for all the people that supported the Upstairs Downstairs for all those 33 years. I also believed that God knew I could handle it at this stage of my life, but years ago? Probably not,” Glenn said.
When the club reopened, it looked absolutely beautiful. The grand opening was a huge success. Glenn had begun to breathe a little easier, and felt more secure as he watched people stream in and out of the club that first night. Friends, old and new came to show their support…it was a very exciting time. However, those positive vibes were short lived because when morning came, Glenn was struck with more uncertainty. Now, he and Dawn had to make this work and they were pretty much on their own. “We were very proud of the end results of the remodel and renovations, but the addition of this business with everything else already on the plate…it was almost too much for us. Dawn and I held on tight to one another and continued to believe that the club would be revived…and miraculously…it was,” Glenn said.
The unthinkable happened two weeks later. A fire broke out in a neighboring property in the View Marche, and the flames also engulfed the all new Upstairs Downstairs. The Mattina’s awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a police officer banging on the front door. He told Glenn that Adventures Bar and Grill was on fire and it did not look good for the Stairs because it was spreading so fast. The couple made their way to the View Marche to see for themselves…when the arrived, all they could do was watch in horror as the blood, sweat and tears that they had invested in the property went up in flames. Mayor Holloway stood by Dawn and Glenn watching the thousands of gallons of water pour into the newly remodeled club, as the fire fighters desperately tried to extinguish the inferno. In the next 48 hours, the property was completely gutted and whatever could be salvaged was cleaned and put into storage.
Twenty years ago, the Upstairs Downstairs was heavily damaged by fire. Glenn remembered what needed to be done, having lived through that first experience. The couple was functioning on “automatic pilot” as the trauma of the fire was an overwhelming shock to the system. A week or so later, when things started to settle down, the realization hit hard. Friends, family and the Stairs staff surrounded the Mattina’s with love and support. The Stairs will eventually be rebuilt on the original property, but Adventures will not return. Dawn, Glenn, and Glenn Sr. are all looking forward to starting again. They see this as a wonderful opportunity for Glenn’s father, family, and even the patrons of the well known Coast establishment. The Stairs will have a completely new look and atmosphere that will compliment the charm and beauty of downtown Biloxi. Mattina said, “The new Stairs will be a very special place, and we will entertain guests for another 30 years plus!”
The life and times of Glenn Mattina Jr have been a whirlwind of incredible experiences. He has truly made a difference here. Thanks to his drive, dedication and imagination, we continue to enjoy the very best in all forms of entertainment and “over the top” events. This enterprising Coast native is one of a kind.