MMA now has a worldwide system of super gyms and management powerhouses. The super gyms have antecedents like the Gracie family, The Lion's Den, and Chute Boxe. But major management in MMA starts with Monte Cox. Among the countless fighters he managed was Tom "Tommy Trauma" Sauer, who passed away this week.
In a recent message on his social network. Cox remembers his client and friend:
I was sick to my stomach when I woke up Tuesday morning to learn my friend Tom Sauer had passed overnight.
Tom was one of the good guys you feel fortunate to have spent time with. We traveled extensively while I managed his fighting career for almost 13 years. We spent time at each others homes and tried to stay in contact.
I had spoken with Tom less than a month ago while doing research for an upcoming book. We talked and laughed for over two hours. I'm pleased I was able to spend that time with him, and sad it won't happen again.
My condolences to his family and want you to know that Tom was a special person. I know you know that, but there are so many people Tom influenced ... more than you even know.
Rather than ramble on, I am putting in some of what I wrote about Tom in my book. It includes some swearing, but how can I write about Tom without it.
Here we go...
It was obvious to see Tom was a trained fighter with all-around skills. At first, his noises during rules meetings were a slight distraction. Once I got to know him, I tried to make jokes at his outbursts during meetings to make everybody more at ease. According to Google, Tourette Syndrome involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can't be easily controlled. For instance, repeatedly blinking eyes, shrugging shoulders or blurting out unusual sounds or offensive words. Tom definitely struggled with the latter.
Nicknamed “Tommy Trauma,” he started his MMA career with an 8-1 record and signed with me in 2000. He had 39 professional fights, winning 25, and competed in Japan, Russia and Holland. Born in Cleveland, Tom moved to Ocala, Fla. at the age of 11. In addition to fighting, he worked as a paramedic for the fire department.
In all, he fought under my management 30 times and competed in events I promoted 11 times in a career that spanned 14 years.
While at “Rings Holland: One Moment in Time” on Dec. 1, 2002, Tom suffered a long and deep cut over his right eye while fighting the main event against Rodney Glunder. There were plenty of doctors ringside, but because he was the last fight of the night, all of them had left before we could get one of them to stitch up his cut. After I told him there was no way I could do it, he got out his own suture kit and proceeded to stitch himself up while looking in a mirror. It was like a scene from the movie “Rambo.”
Tom and his childhood friend, Chris Hickman, trained together and were both firemen.
Chris: Tom was a unique individual. He cared about everybody and was a great father. Can you imagine this huge fighter sitting down and having a tea party with his girls? He went out of his way to not offend people. Once, on a flight to Japan, Tommy got up right after the stewardess gave her safety speech and gave a Tourette's speech, explaining to everybody what Tourette’s was and how he was going to be an “equal opportunity offender.”
Monte: After he defeated Jeff Monson at “Extreme Challenge 20” in Davenport, Iowa, Tom sat next to me at a long table of fighters and cornermen at “Halftime Sports Bar.” I had an account at the business as a sponsorship and I treated the fighters to a meal after the event. Tom sat to my right and somebody to his right was irritating everybody. Tom nudged me and winked. He turned to the guy and screamed: “Stupid Mother Fucker!!!” then added, “Sorry, I have Tourette’s” and looked at me with a big grin on his face.
Tom had a successful career with quality wins over Monson, Valentijn Overeem, Enson Inoue and Cliffton Wallace. He retired from fighting in 2012.
After retiring from the fire department in 2018, Tom bought out a partner to become the sole owner of “Sauer & Sons Construction.” It was that year he fell backwards while unhitching a trailer and the back of his head struck the ball of the hitch. After seeing a couple doctors it was determined he had a brain injury that would cause his blood pressure to spike without warning. He controlled things with medicine, but still endured headaches and blood pressure issues.
Tom died in his sleep on March 24, 2020 at the age of 49.
Chris: Tommy actually lived at least a couple lives. He was hit head-on by a police car when he was on his motorcycle. He jumped right before impact and flew over the car. He broke pretty much everything below the waist and needed steel plates and screws to be put back together.
Monte: Tom is survived by his wife Sherrie and her two sons; ex-wife Janie along with her two daughters and a son; and ex-wife Lynn, with whom he had four children, three daughters, and a son.
Rest in Peace Tom Sauer, born 11/11/1970, died 3/24/2020.