MMA school offers close-knit community

David Martucci is the owner and top instructor of an American Top Team facility in Whitestone. He wrote a book about finding authentic mixed-martial arts schools, which he says he hands out to prospective students. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

A new school for mixed-martial arts, American Top Team, held its grand opening in Whitestone last month.

And although the facility bears a striking resemblance to a gym — with instructors leading students in exercises and equipment such as boxing bags lining the walls — the school’s owner and top instructor cautioned against using the term.

“It’s not a gym, this place. It’s a team,” said David Martucci, who owns the Whitestone facility, at 13-15 131st St., and another in Jackson Square, L.I.

He explained that instead of students being identified by numbers on their gym membership cards, his style was to provide a place where everyone knew everyone else by name. It was so close-knit, he said, that instructors would call students who missed a class to see if they were OK.

And, indeed, as Martucci spoke, he often had to pause in mid-sentence to greet a student who came over to say hello or give a high-five.

Martucci said this approach helps clients get results, and he expects the Queens facility to have the same friendly atmosphere as the one on Long Island.

“It’s going to be a great thing for the community,” he said.

David Martucci grew up in Whitestone and said he took his first martial arts class in Flushing when he was 13. Since then, he has gone on to train in multiple martial arts and other disciplines around the world, including boxing in Cuba, jiujitsu in Brazil and kickboxing in Thailand.

He said he brought the American Top Team school to the borough because he saw a huge demand. Some of his students in the Long Island school were coming out from Queens, he said, and he said he went straight to Whitestone to try to find a space.

“I knew I wanted Whitestone because I knew the demographic because I grew up here,” he said.

The school is on the second floor of a nondescript building surrounded by a mix of warehouses, garages and detached houses, and Martucci described it as having a “raw” look to it.

Inside, the training area is one large room, with separate areas set up for different disciplines. It boasts a 22-foot competition boxing cage and premium bags, a full CrossFit section with finished wood lanes, high-quality zebra floor mats for martial arts training and even a section outside for workouts.

Martucci said he was happy with how the grand opening was going, with many newcomers coming out as well as several of his students from the Long Island school.

“My students are so loyal,” he said. “I’m a very blessed guy.”

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Posted 8:53 pm, March 7, 2013
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Mike from Queens says:
He owns the other school in Franklin Square Long Island not Jackson Square
March 19, 2013, 9:09 pm
Vicky from Whitestone says:
Sounds like a nightclub or bar and by the way, it's in College Point. They just say Whitestone for every business there and in Flushing because it sounds better and fancier and because many people know that Whitestone is a classier neighborhood.
March 20, 2013, 10:42 pm
Joey from whitestone says:
WHO cares what the exact zip code ATT is in? this place is AMAZING and everyone should try their 30-day FREE trial!!!

April 10, 2013, 12:38 pm
Bobby from bayside says:
@ Vicky, if it was a nightclub or bar it would be the best one in that area!! LOLOL
April 10, 2013, 12:44 pm
NJ the Victorious 1 Mac from Long Island says:
@Vicky I'm one of the consultants for ATT and you seem to have a sour taste about my Team so how about I set you up for a free consultation and see if we can change that, please give me a call 516 775 7778 just ask for Nj............
April 10, 2013, 12:56 pm
Jeremy from flushing says:
Do they teach UFC?
April 10, 2013, 1:34 pm
chris from queens village says:
Just joined about a month ago, this gym is a huge improvement from the one I trained at previously, the facility is amazing! The coaches are really informative, and very helpful, and the classes are so intense! I am currently in the intro program but dying to get in the combat athlete program so I can really pick my training up! Osss
April 10, 2013, 1:38 pm
Coach mike from Franklin square says:
I've been with master David's program for 8 years now I'm a black belt under him and a coach results mean everything to me and that's all I get from my team
And like NJ you get a 30 day free trial there's nothing to lose
April 10, 2013, 5:05 pm
kelly from nyc says:
be careful signing a contract anywhere. read it first to see how long it is
Nov. 23, 2014, 2:17 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!