Over the last few weeks we've been enjoying a lovely back and forth by E-mail with Thai based Iranian born fighter Mohamadreza Hamze (11-9-1, 3), who agreed to do an interview with our selves talking about his career, and letting us all know more about him.
For those unaware Hamze was one of the fighters who really made a mark on the Thai broadcasts when we started this site, and he quickly earned a place in our hearts as a man who always gave his all in the ring. He was not the most technically skilled, but he always came to fight and always left us wanting to see him in action again. So when he agreed to the interview we were incredibly happy. And then he blew us away with the depth and detail he went into as we managed to have one of our best, and our favourites interviews to date. Whether you've heard of him previous, or seen him in action, we really do recommend giving this a read and learning about Hamze, who is a truly unique figure in the world of professional boxing. Please enjoy:
“The Persian Slugger interview to challenge Tirachai”
A.B - We don't really hear about many Iranian boxers, so the obvious question is what actually attracted you to the sport of boxing in the first place?
M.H - "Great point I actually like the question which is saying that “How bad I want it and how important is for me to be the one” but not only one and I truly believe many great man and woman have the skills, talent, and heart, in other words, they got all it takes but due lack of Iran’s power in the boxing world and all the ongoing political reasons they can’t see any future. I took on an impossible mission like a solo traveler and my strength is my strong mindset, self-belief, and determination. I separated my way from anyone and stepped on a big road with tonnes of obstacles but nothing could stop me.
I’ve been in love with fighting sports from the first time I watched combat sports movie and started with kickboxing at the age of 8 and been fighting and living my dream to become K-1 MAX champion but those epic days lasted in 2010 and I eventually could leave Iran in 2011 and had to make new decisions for my fighting career. I moved to professional boxing 10 years ago and been fighting all possible big fights and never lost my faith up to these days."
A.B. - With that in mind, we also need to ask, why you ended up in Thailand of all places? We all know Thailand has a busy boxing scene, usually, but it does seem like it'll be an interesting story as to how you ended up boxing there?
M.H. - "I didn’t have many options with an Iranian passport that’s why I choose Thailand but unexpectedly I had a chance to go against one of the world’s all-time greats in my debut professional fight and ended up losing a 12 round decision to former 2 division WBC champion who’s record was 65-2 back in the day. I made history but who cares? I do and I decided to go all the way and chase greatness."
A.B. - It's probably fair to say that many international fans won't know too much about you, given your entire boxing career has been in Asia. So how would you describe yourself as a fighter?
M.H. - "I am #ThePersianSlugger representing my heritage Iran in each fight with my all heart and skills and I will become the first Iranian boxer to captures a legit world title and I want to show what I am made of. Trust me I don't face an opponent in the ring only I have to face the entire world alone in the first place to make it in the ring and when the bell rings I am there and willing to pay the price to win. I been down and out in the ring and life but I always got up and fought back, I am a warrior."
A.B. - We also really need to ask the obvious question. How did you end up fighting Sirimongkol Singwancha on debut? People talk about being thrown in at the deep end but that's an incredible fighter to face on debut! And then you faced him, again about 18 months later
M.H - "It is actually epic for me because when I was a kickboxer at the same time I was the only K-1 reporter and journalist in Iran and I even wrote and published an article about Sirimongkol 2 times world champion stopping Korean opponent in his K-1 MAX debut.
When I heard his name took the fight without a doubt. Sirimongkol has been jailed due to his own problems and with the help of his promoter he was fighting his way out of jail for freedom and already has 3 wins just before December 3rd, 2011 the day that #ThePersianSlugger and my new version was born. I was the guy with only amateur kickboxing experience with a broken leg in a new world and sport going against a legit world-class champion and Sirimongkol was coming out of the hell fighting for his family.
We both were in the fight but I gave him one of the toughest fights of his career. From round one I had moments and hurt him and didn’t show any respect but anyone thought it’s just a matter of time for Sirimongkol to decide when and how to finish me as well as the first round I’ve taken extreme punishment. The landscape changed from the beginning of round 8 when I realized he’s not only physically tired but mentally and then with different confidence I tried to push and win until the final bell but of course, wasn’t enough and he won a unanimous decision but I won the story of the fight I believe and even to today that’s the greatest fight of my life.
The second fight happened while I was about to leave Thailand for few months and waiting for my visa which was asked by a promoter from Panama who wanted to bring me there for fighting and living but he gave up and left me alone as he found out how my passport makes everything complicated and harder. By that time my record was 2-1 but due to lack of training last few weeks, I was overweight and had a hard time making weight as I got fever too. I almost killed myself to make weight and I couldn’t be 100% but don’t get me wrong I didn’t lose due only my condition I wasn’t good enough yet but in the second fight which ended in the 6th we both exchanged much more and it was a hell of the fight but I wasn't really in a condition to fight and he really beat me up badly. But don't get me wrong I am not using that as an excuse I'd rather admit that it wasn’t my time yet and Sirimongkol is a great champion and an amazing man."
A.B - Other than Sirimongkol, who has been the best opponent that you've faced in your career so far?
· I fought a young unbeaten Chalermporl who was a unbeaten knock out artist back in the day who was sending anyone to the hospital with broken jaw or ribs within a minute or less but I went 7 rounds so far in the biggest beatdown of my 25 years fighting career. I been asking and demanding rematch since 2014 which never took place.
· I fought kongjak-sor-tuantong the guy with plus 200 Muay Thai wins and Rajadamnerm stadium champion who weighted 5 kg (2 division) heavier than me in weight in unlike the contract as well as after the sixth and final referee informed me 2 more rounds to go and so they favored him with the score cards which been not even close unlike how the fight did go.
· Fought twice in Korea with an unbeaten guy who’s been well protected by his promoter once he got 8 rounds decision in a close match and second time very unfairly, he was awarded vacant WBF Asia and Pacific super welterweight after 10 rounds of clinching, holding and landing low blows. [ Ed's note – the fighter in question is Ki Hong Min 6-0 (2)]
· Btw I have a decision win in China as you all know how rare is to get decision over there and he shortly ranked no 1 in China’s middle weight ranking for some time.
· I defeat the rising star Suthat kalalek 3-1 with 3 Kos in row and a very back and force action fight and I got the decision live in Thai TV and today he’s fighting at heavy weights and not too long a go he fought 10 and 12 rounds for WBC and WBO Asia Light heavy weight and Cruiserweight as well as his loss to former K-1 GP -100 kg champion Kyotaro Fujimoto for OPBF Heavy weight title.
· There are few names that I defeat but none of those names are actually their real name for instance I dropped a guy with the record of one lose and just a while later saw him fighting in Top Rank Macau with a different name and his record was 7-1.
· Let’s be honest I don’t care about that part much as I can still understand how fighter’s lives are tough and how those numbers can affect someone’s career and future. However at least I got those wins added in my record anyway so no hard feelings and I wish anyone nothing but the best, thanks for sharing the ring with me."
A.B - Having not fought since 2019, we need to ask whether you're retired or not?
M.H. - "Great question and I must explain more than I’m asked.
Unfortunately, I have been involved in a motorbike accident in January 2016 and I suffered injuries that held me back from fighting and even training for few years and I went through all the depression, anxiety, and pressure and so I went through a very dark side of my life where I reached up to 104 kg. I even quit university and went back home in 2017 for few months.
Let’s move on from the sad story but I made a comeback just 3 days shy from my 30th birthday at 95 kg after winning a unanimous but close decision over a Muay Thai fighter and stopping an ordinary/average level Thai boxer in the first round at 90 kg.
2 days after I suffered a tremendous accident which caused huge damages in my body but I’ll just mention that was a born of benign tumor in my shoulder and I never knew as I did not have any money or support to go to the hospital and ask for treatments although the accident caused by an under-age Thai student without driving license Thai police did not want the guilty person or his family to pay anything for hospital fees, crashed motorbike or any meds for me. So, I been home for a while with a broken body, couldn’t move and couldn’t even afford living expenses and I hide the story for my all friends and family however 4 months later I made it to the ring and I weighed 79 kg in a really good 4kg heavier competitive fight with an experienced opponent scored a unanimous decision.
For the same reason as always for quite a long time I didn’t get any fights and was earning very small by freelancing jobs as things been rapidly changed over Thailand in the last few years so I couldn’t have a fine life to keep training the way I used to do in 2018. I didn’t know about the tumor yet.
Evolution Fight Series called me with only 4 days’ notice to fight at 75kg and I took it and killed myself to make 74.8kg and the other guy surprisingly weighed 80kg. Well planned and I just couldn’t walk away from a fight that was too close to happening although the purse was ridiculous for a guy like me with 20 fights and twice for the title. I started strong and better for a minute but as long as he catches me with his own type of Wilder punch. I have been dropped 3 times in the first, got up and fought back but and nothing was left on me seconds before the bell and I was stopped
No doubt by fight day we were easily up to 12 kg different. However, shook his hands, congratulated him, and moved on.
And Again, Evolution fight Series called me for a fight at 160 against a Brit dude with the record of 1-1, an ex-pat active boxer who we knew each other mutually and I even refed a few of his fights witnessing him taking naps while I wave him off during some of those ex-pat white-collar matches.
However, the guy who’s from the UK originally named Thomas Newton calls himself Tee Jay Chang over here and confused himself with Conor McGregor.
He’s been absolutely disrespectful toward my weight, look, record, etc. on social media acting with this excuse “he’s promoting the fight and trying to play mental games” but by that time I was working as a full-time high school English teacher and training ever day the situation that I could get totally 4-5 hours sleep at night and even not a moment in my daily life that I can just relax so I basically focused on work and training, therefore, I just made him unable to tag me in any post and he’s been deleted from my social media more than a year already.
3 weeks before the fight I eventually could get an MRI and so yes, I found out I have an unwanted guest in my shoulder now I know what the pain is for.
However, I took the fight and I even weighed 1 kg less than him and limit on the scale and during the fight, he’s been unable to do anything although he was aggressive and full of juice I didn’t have energy and I was so drained due to months of working training and no rest. He tried his best and been missing almost every punch just landed very few which didn’t effect but in the 4th he hurt me after bell and behind the head but the referee got it wrong and counted for me as well as I believe the stoppage was quite unnecessary and too soon in the 5th."
A.B - We all know boxing in Thailand is being massively affected by the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, which has caused shows to be cancelled, and the calendar is basically empty for the foreseeable future. Is there any idea, from living there, when fights will be back?
M.H. - "Well, much to say about life in Thailand but I’d rather talk about boxing life.
Tewa Kiram 46-1 AKA Tirachai who’s been title holder for ages since even before I turned pro in the same division has become light heavyweight WBA Asia and Pacific champion and had two fights on a good network without spectators’ vs legendary champions of Thailand who I fought 8 and 10 years ago while they were dominating boxing scene in South East Asia but now they are plus 40 years old, no longer on their consecutive winning/KO in row and fit. Of course, Tirachai has all the sponsors and a nation behind him, and obviously if he wants to fight, he can but he doesn't want a real challenge since he noticed me in 2011 with my debut and later on fighting all the Thailand's best as main events under Narit Singwancha well know Thai promoter who's been named promoter of the year by WBC Asia and been one of the most active Thai promoters ever."
A.B. - As an Iranian fighter in Thailand, did you feel like the fans, promoters and officials treat you the same way they treat the domestic fighters? Or do you think they treat you differently in some way?
M.H - "This is a hard and sensitive question to respond to because as we all know how the boxing business is and especially for the guy like me from Iran overseas, I had to understand that I am alone vs the entire world.
On the other hand, if we talk about Thai people and the boxing community I’ve earned my respect from great people over here and in other countries although nobody would really do anything for me and my career, there are many great champions, trainers and even promoters know me and remember me in big fights and all the underdog stories and some admire me to keep fighting and getting better and so far I’d like to thank Panya the man who helped me to get fight for 17 times and without him, I definitely wouldn’t have more than 100 rounds of professional boxing in my resume. He never lied about whom I’ll fight and there’s not such a case that I get paid less than contract as well as he thought me to not expect to get my hands raised if I haven’t stopped or dominated the opponents, Once again thank you Panya and #ThePersianSlugger career wouldn’t go this far without him."
A.B. - If any promoters are out there, is there anything you'd like to say to them?
M.H - "Yes, sir Mr. Eaung Laosuwanwat "The Fighter Boxing World" promoter who's currently promoting Tewa Kiram46-1 aka Tirachai.
All I demand is the fight I believe nobody deserves more than me as I waited since December 2020 for my trilogy vs Sirimongkol 97-5 for Asian WBC light heavy weight championship and then Tirachai side offered him a fight for WBA title defense and then Sirimongkol retired from boxing. I've seen interviews heading to his fights vs Chalermporl and Sirimongkol he said "I'm fighting Thai legends due to covid situation that opponents and us can’t travel overseas.
Bro I'm here for a decade and you know me, do you ever want to fight me? you are the last reason I'm still here otherwise I'd leave rather go back home or move elsewhere possibly.
Thailand owes me this fight and it has to happen let's be honest, please"
A.B - I know you've worked as a sports writer in Japan as well as a boxer in Thailand. Is there any other jobs you've done, or are doing now, that you'd like to tell fans about?
M.H. - "I’ve reported about K-1 in Iranian magazines since 2004, reported on Physique TV since 2012 and in 2017 I was head publisher of Kun Lun Fight for few months but now I’m jobless and going through absolute poverty for nearly a year and a half. However, I’ll create and publish live interviews and podcasts with successful athletes and personalities from my country and the rest of the world in English to educate people about real fighter’s lives as well as sharing inspiring stories very soon on my social media this week."
A.B. - On the subject of Japan, what is it that attracted you to the country?
M.H. - "Oh man, I admire and love Japanese as they are some of the most determined people, hard worker and extremely respectful as well is a big base for fighting sports as Karate, Judo, Sumo and of course K-1. Over decades I’ve watched K-1 and therefore I had a chance to learn about the culture and beauty of one of the greatest countries in the world in case of technology, culture, and manner in the entire world. Old school K-1 days are gone but once I have my belt Japan is my top 3 favorite countries to go and defend my belt and I won't be worried about the judges as they are fair but the samurai in front of me trying to knock off my head with his hands."
A.B. - Thank you so much for take the time to answer these questions, and once again I'm so sorry they took this long to send you
M.H. - "You guys are busy we all know I just want to say thank you for the time and hospitality
In the end I want to thank my parents for everything, my main coach and the only man who really built me up, and even to today I have not seen any better yet, I’d love to thank my internal brother Behzad Rafigh Doust who’s been everything for me over last 10 years overseas, huge thank to my only sponsor Self Omni Nutrition Swedish/Italian supplements since 2017 “You guys been my side when nobody believed in me when nobody did and helped me during the toughest stage of my life as well as quality supplements helped me a lot”
Arigato gozaimasu , Best regards"
Earlier this year we were lucky enough to catch up with Japanese boxer Caliente Koyasu (3-2, 1) who was happy to do a quick e-mail interview with us. The 29 year old fighter is one of the few Japanese boxers who speaks English and is happy to talk to fans in English and has carved out a small yet interesting career on the Japanese domestic scene. He fights out of the gym headed by Cassius Naito, a former OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion, and is a wonderfully engaging man outside of the ring, as well as an exciting between the ropes.
AB-Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions for us, to begin with what attracted you to boxing?
CK-Boxing is clearly win or lose sports that fighters have all the responsibility unlikely other team sports. That’s what makes me think I have to make an effort for myself.
AB-What are your goals in the sport?
CK-My goal so far is to be ranked in Japan ranking and have a dinghy in the US. (Place doesn’t matter.)
AB-Who's the most talented fighter you've shared the ring with? (can be an opponent, or someone you've sparred with)
CK-I cannot say he was the best but as far as I remember Fujita Yasutaka (Nagoya Ohashi Gym) being a good fighter
[Editors note - Fujita is 5-1 (5) as a professional and came runner up in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the year]
AB-Not many Japanese fighters speak English, but you seem fairly fluent in it. What's the background between you speaking the language so easily?
CK-I went to University in the US ( California state University, Northridge) that’s how I learned English.
AB-I remember following you when you'd give English language lessons to your followers, with the charming introduction of "What's up boys?" what was the reason for stopping those videos?
CK-I was working on making the videos on my own. I was able to do that because I didn’t have full time job at that time. I started to work full time now and I can barely make time for that. I wish I can start that if people want to see it!
AB-You train at the Cassius Gym, run by former OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Cassius Naito. What are the best things about training at the Gym and the other fighters there?
CK-The Cassius gym is a pretty small family owned gym. I've known Ricky since I was 15 so I’m familiar with his family too. The manager is Rickys mom and her hospitality and kindness is the key in this gym. Other fighters are pretty nice to each other. A lot of fighters are from same local city. So we are tight knit!
[Editor's note- Ricky is the son of the owner of the gym, Cassius Naito]
AB-Outside of boxing what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
CK-I love the nature and relaxing things so I go to hot springs and camping too.
AB-Have you any idea of when you'll be fighting again?
CK-I just lost the fight at the end of the year but I didn’t have heavy injury so hopefully ASAP.
[Editor's note - Caliente lost a technical decision on the under-card of Ryota Murata's bout with Steven Butler, those watching on some international feeds actually got the chance to watch this bout]
AB-And finally Is there any message you'd like to give to any fans?
CK-I can't say I’m young in this sports industry so I don’t know how long I can continue boxing until. However, I’m doing my best to improve my skills and become stronger every single day. I do my best to show my fans my best performance every single fight!
A huge thanks to Caliente for agreeing to this interview and for his answer's. We look forward to seeing him in the ring against in 2020!
(Image from the Cassius Gym)
Over the weekend we had the pleasure of catching up with unbeaten Japanese prospect Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8), from the Ohashi Gym. The 21 year old prospect is the current Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion and is regarded as one of many big hopes for the Japanese boxing scene in the years to come.
Asian Boxing-Hi Andy, thanks for being willing to answer a few questions.
Andy Hiraoka-Hi Scott, thank you for having me in mind.
AB-So firstly, what got you into boxing originally?
AH-My father got me into boxing at the age of four.
AB-You made your professional debut back in 2013, did you have any sort of an amateur career before that?
AH-Unfortunately no, but I was under fifteen champion at age of twelve. Then we decide to quit for some reasons.
AB-I believe you spent time taking part in some training in the US, what was the biggest lesson from that training? Does American training differ massively from that done in Japan?
AH-Yes, I spent several times in the U.S. training. Thinking of I can get a chance over there. The difference between Japan and U.S. is that you may have knowledge of boxers in the gym to spare with.
AB-Of course you're based in the Ohashi gym, whats that like? Given you get to train alongside elite fighters like Naoya Inoue, I guess that really helps you develop your skills
AH-I believe Ohashi gym is one of the best in Japan now. So I feel great being one of them. Yes, Mr. Naoya Inoue and Mr. Akira Yaegashi are more than inspiration to me.
AB-What's been your toughest bout so far?
AH-My toughest bout was the fight with Takahiko Kobayashi.
AB-I'm sure some of our readers will be aware you made it to the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but you were unable to fight in that final. How did it feel to miss out on the chance to be the Rookie of the Year?
AH-I did not fight rookie of the year the final duo to sickness, but I came back to fight the same opponent and won by K.O.
AB-On a bit of a lighter note, last year you claimed the Japanese Youth title at 140lbs, how did that feel?
AH-In the chances nothing too small so yes I was happy when claimed the Japan youth title but know body wants to challenge me for it.
AB-Whilst I'm sure a lot of fans will have heard your name, there's a chance not that many will have seen you in action. Could you explain your style for those who haven't had the chance to see you in action?
AH-My boxing style? I have more than one style.
AB-Looking towards the future, what are your plans for the rest of 2018? And longer term, where do you see your career?
AH-My time is coming, and I will give the fans the best they want.
AB-Finally, is there any message you'd like to send to fans looking to follow your career?
AH-Tell the boxing fans they should hold on for I have something special.
AB-Thanks Andy, this means a lot to us.
(Image courtesy of the Ohashi Gym)
On June 14th Japanese based Filipino fighter Warlito Parrenas Jr (26-7-1, 23) will battle against Ryuichi Funai for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. Ahead of that bout we caught up with the hard hitting former world title challenger, and asked him a few quick questions about his past, including his bout with Naoya Inoue, and his upcoming bout against Funai.
Asian Boxing- Good morning Warlito, thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for an interview at such a busy time.
Warlito Parrenas- Good day thank you for your interview.
AB-Firstly, what got you into boxing?
WP-Boxing is my life. Boxing helped me a lot because my life came from poor family and because of my talent as a boxer I managed to buy a house and a car and I have small business after my fight to inoya inoue. I also now have a stable job as a boxing trainer at Morioka boxing gym.
AB-What was your amateur career like?
WP-I travelled a lot and fought in in different countries. I recieved gold medals in different tournament and got the best boxer award in the Tammer cup tournament held in Finland and South East Asian championships held in Vietnam, and I had a lot of experiencec in amateur boxing before I turned professional.
(Ed's note - Warlito won the 51KG division at the 2005 Tammer Cup and the 2005 South East Asian Champions in Vietnam)
AB-Most fans, at least those in the western boxing world, will remember you best for your bout with Naoya Inoue. How would you describe facing the Monster?
WP-Naoya Inoue is a good fighter strong, fast and very talented boxer. He is so different to any other boxer that I've encountered. He is gifted
AB-Aside from Inoue you have faced other world class fighters, such as Marlon Tapales, Jonathan Taconing and David Carmona. Who did you enjoy facing the most? And which fight do you think taught you the most?
WP-Maybe Marlon Tapales. The fight that taught me most is my fight against Carmona it was a hard fight for me.
AB-Having been a professional for over a decade, what sort of advice would you give to an aspiring young professional?
WP-Don't under estimate your opponent, work hard, be determined and have self discipline.
AB-What would you regard as your biggest win, or best achievement, as a professional fighter?
WP-When i got my no.1 WBO Super Flyweight world ranking and my fight as a world championship challenger, against the tough boxer of the world like Naoya Inoue.
AB-You're currently a trainer at the Morioka gym right? The gym seems to have a real star in the making with Hinata Maruta, how far do you think Maruta can go in the future?
WP-Hinata Maruta is a good fighter, smart and strong boxer. He will be a world champion in the future
AB-Later this month you'll be facing Ryucihi Funai for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. What do you know about Funai?
WP-I saw his fight on youtube. He's strong and a good boxer, he has a tactical style. I study a lot of his boxing style and have prepared for that.
AB-Could you describe your style for fans who maybe haven't seen much of you?
WP-They will see the new Warlito Parrenas Jr. We have a good training program. i train hard they will see my improvement with the help of my boss Kazunori Morioka, at the Morioka boxing gym.
AB-Finally do you have any messages for fans following you?
WP-I will surprise you guys! i will do my best and god will do the rest. See you all this coming June 14th.
AB-Thank you so much for your time, and good luck on June 14th
(Image courtesy of Morioka Gym)
Boxing in Singapore has began to capture some attention in the last few years thanks to a number of shows featuring notable Uzbek prospects. Despite the rise in attention that the country has been having in the boxing world not many home grown fighters have began to get much traction or build a name for themselves. One man looking to change that is unbeaten prospect Hamzah Farouk (4-0, 2), who made his professional debut in February 2017. Earlier this week we were able to have a small interview with Hamzah, talking about his start in boxing and his future in the sport, ahead of his bout this coming weekend.
Asian Boxing - Firstly, professional boxing doesn't have too much of a history in Singapore, what made you pursue the sport as a professional fight?
Hamzah Farouk-Just love. I love boxing more than anything else. And of course, thanks to the few boxers who turned professional before me. They paved the way and showed that it's possible to make something out of being a professional fighter and leaving a mark on the world boxing scene, even though Singapore does not have much history in professional boxing. So I decided, why not try to achieve something in the sport that I love so much.
AB-On a similar theme, what, if any, amateur experience did you have before making your professional debut last year?
HF-I was fighting in the amateurs from 2005, right up to 2012. I was also 4 time national champion during that time. However, I never had the chance to go to the South East Asian games as the stars were never aligned. But I did represent the country in other regional and international competitions such as the King's Cup in Bangkok, and some invitational competitions in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, and Malaysia.
AB-Likewise what attracted you to boxing in the first place?
HF-My dad. He loved the sport, and he was always watching VCRs of his hero Muhammad Ali and some of the great fighters of his generation. I would watch along with him and I remember seeing Ali win the Heavyweight title for the first time against Sonny Liston, and they interviewed him after the fight. I remember him saying how he was a "bad man" and how he "shook up the world". Seeing his triumph gave me goosebumps even as a 5-year-old and I knew that was what I wanted to do. Oh and of course, the Rocky movies.
AB- Do you have any favourite fighters to watch, or anyone you were a big fan of?
HF-So many of them! Currently some of my favourite active fighters to watch include Jorge Linares, Vasyl Lomachenko, Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford, Dimitri Bivol, just to name a few.
As for favourite boxers of the past, there are too many to name. But notable ones I would always watch are Ricardo Lopez, Johnny Tapia, Oscar de la Hoya, and Juan Manual Marquez. Of course the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali.
AB-Could you describe your style for fans who haven't had the opportunity to see you in the ring? Is there anyone you'd maybe compared yourself to?
HF-Smooth boxing - that’s what I would call my style. Keeping it smooth, and in control. I can box from the outside, but I can also fight on the inside if I need to. A smooth puncher who uses his IQ more than his physical attributes.
Not anyone in particular. I study a lot of fighters and try to incorporate some of their moves into my game. I mix it all up, and create my own style.
AB-We know you're back in action on May 5th, what do you know about your opponent Samson Elnino?
HF-I've watched some of his fights on YouTube and I don't see anything he brings that could be a threat to me. However I do know he is experienced and he's got 16 professional victories, so I am not taking anything lightly this Saturday. I plan to box to my best ability and may God protect us both in the ring.
AB-Is there any plans for your next bout after the one with Samson?
HF-No plans at the moment as I’m staying focused for Saturday and not thinking ahead of that.
AB-Could you talk us through your team please?
HF-I am currently signed to Golden Glove Asia Promotions, who are promoting me and taking my career to the top.
I have my Strength and Conditioning (SnC) coach, Dzul, who was also the SnC coach for the Singapore Silat Federation.
I have my boxing coaches, Chouib Kabbab – who has been in boxing for his entire life – and Syakir Farouk – who is my brother and has been working with me since the start of my professional career.
Also, the good people at The Ring Boxing Community, led by founder Mr. Ruchdi Hajjar, who provided me a boxing home when I had nowhere to train
AB-What are your aspirations in boxing?
HF-I plan to win a regional title first and take it from there one step at a time. My ultimate end game is to perhaps fight in Las Vegas one day. I don't expect to headline any shows there but to have just 1 fight there would be a dream come true for me.
I hope to leave some kind of good impression on the world boxing scene and pave the way for other Singaporeans and maybe inspire them to do the same, just like how the ones before me have done so for me.
AB- Do you have any messages for the fans reading this?
HF-Do follow my career as we progress through the ranks, one fight at a time. I work hard everyday as I firmly believe hard work, sacrifice, and discipline pays off. I hope anyone reading this can give me your support as it would mean the world to my team and our cause.
I believe we are all fighting our own battles and have adversities to overcome. But keep the faith and continue working towards your goals and never give up no matter what happens, like a naive child untainted by limiting beliefs. Stay positive and believe in yourself that you can do it. I sincerely hope we all make something out of this life, and achieve what we set out to do. I look forward to seeing more of you at my fights, and keep a lookout for me to make a splash in boxing real soon!
AB-Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions
HF-Thanks very much
We'd like to wish Hamzah good luck for his up coming bout bout against Samson Elnino (16-17-3, 5), this coming Saturday from Singapore and thank him and his team for taking time out of their schedule to take part in this interview.
One of the most exciting aspects of Japanese boxing right now is the rise of the youngsters, which has helped to put Japanese boxing in to a Golden Age of sorts. Interestingly within that young group of Japanese fighters is a sub-group, and that's the rise of young Okinawan boxers. This has been lead by the brilliant Daigo Higa but also features the likes of Shuma Nakazato, Owan Ryuto and Shawn Oda.
This past week we managed to catch up with one of those fighters, 19 year old Lightweight prospect Shawn Oda (6-0, 6), who took time out of his schedule to answer a few of our questions.
Shawn came to the attention of many fight fans in Japan in 2016, when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Lightweight, and despite only fighting once in 2017 he looks set for a big 2018.
Asian Boxing-Firstly can we start with asking how did you get in to boxing, or what got you into the sport?
Shawn Oda-How I got into the sport was this one man that mom knew that happened to be Uehara Yasutsune brother Uehara Shouei. He told my mom since I was small that I should box and after trying lots of sports I tried boxing in the 5th grade and loved it!
AB-Although we had the pleasure of watching you winning the 2016 Rookie of the Year some fans reading this may not have seen you. Could you describe your style and in ring mentality for them?
SO-I would say a boxer fighter is the best way to describe my style. I go into the ring thinking of all the work I did for the fight knowing I am going to win. I know I only have 6 fights so far but you gotta have this type of mentality to fight!
AB-What are you dreams and goals in boxing? Did you exceed your expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year? Or even the way you did it, stopping all your opponents.
SO-I have not exceeded my expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year, I think this is just the beginning! My goal is to get to the top and get a world title belt but I know it ain’t gonna be easy and I gotta put the work in but I’m up for it! This is my life!
AB-You're one of the few Japanese fighters who speak English, do you see this as an advantage in your career and getting fights in the West, or is that not something that particularly bothers you?
SO-It is good Knowing that it will be easier to communicate with people in the West, but other than that I do not see an advantage because my gym handles all of the managing and setting my fights up.
AB-Is there any idea of when you'll be back in the ring?
SO-I actually have a fight coming up on February 4th! (Ed's note- Shawn will be fighting in the chief support bout of Daigo Higa's bout with Moises Fuentes)
AB-Over the last few years we've seen Okinawa really begin to have a resurgent boxing scene, what's it like to be part of that growth in the region?
SO-I’m happy the name of my home is gaining popularity again from boxing and I’m a part of it!
AB-Staying on the theme of Okinawa, who do you see as your best friends in boxing?
SO-I would say Yoshigai Ukyo, Hiranaka Nobuhiro, and everyone I train with right now in the Shirai•Gushiken Gym. Owan Ryuto, Kimura Yoshimitsu, Yamashita Kenya, Nagahama Riku, and Higa Daigo. (Ed's note – The Shirai Gushiken gym is run by Japanese boxing legend Yoko Gushiken, himself a former Okinawan fighter)
AB-What was it like training with the excellent Daigo Higa?
SO-I am blessed to have that amazing experience and able to train with all these great boxers all the time now!
AB-Who do you look up to as a boxing hero?
SO-I don’t really have a hero but I’ve always liked the way Ioka Kazuto fought since I started boxing.
AB-Outside of boxing I know you enjoy Skateboarding, is there any other notable hobbies or out of the ring interests you spend a lot of time doing?
SO-I spend a lot of time listening to music and skate mostly on my free time when I don’t have a fight coming up.
AB-Finally, is there any sort of message you want to send out to fans?
SO-Imma keep working everyday to reach my goal and get the next, hope to have a fight in the West sometime soon!
AB-Thanks for your time Shawn, it's much appreciated, and the best of luck for your fight in February.
(Image courtesy pof boxmob.jp)
Earlier this year former world champion Malcolm Klassen (33-6-2, 17) signed with Asian manager Alexander King Shah. After signing with Shah we were able to send some questions to Malcolm ahead of the next chapter in his career.
AB-What drew you into boxing?
MK-What drew me into boxing was the fact I was one of those kids who never backed down from a fight, I always stood my ground and never ran away from fights then my moms brother took me to a boxing gym because he saw what I could be, he is also the person that raised me.
AB-You made your debut almost 20 years ago, what advice would “old” you have for “young” you if you could speak to yourself before your debut?
MK-Normally I tell a lot of young fighters that boxing isn't a easy game nd if you are a fighter you need to train hard, if not if you and disrespect the game you can get knocked out badly.
AB-As you may be aware many fight fans around the world struggle to watch fights in African nations, and sadly they may not have seen many of your fights other than your 2009 fight with Robert Guerrero. Do you think this has hindered your career on an international basis with things like getting credit for your ability?
MK-On my site I never worried whether another fighter disrespect or undermine they see it in da ring who I really am and after fights they always confess how hard I punch and good I am.
AB-Staying on a similar theme, how would you describe your style to those who haven't seen you? And do you feel like your style has changed over the years?
MK-I can adapt to anyones fighting style I can fight on the back foot I can attack.
AB-Whilst Alexander Shah has been a great promoter in the Asian region your decision to sign with him seemed a little bit peculiar to some. What was it that drew you to Alex, especially so late in your career?
MK-Mr Alexander King. He is a good Promoter and manager and got connections in the industry and he looks after his fighters thanks to him we secured several big fights in 2017 and the first is against Mikhail Alexeev.
AB-At 35 years old you are around the age where most fighters consider retirement, yet you are currently on a solid 6 fight winning run with good wins against the likes of Justin Savi and Paulus Moses. Do you feel your body has a set number of fights left, or do you feel as young as ever?
MK-My age isnt a factor you only feel as old as you are, I mean I got good hand speed and I'm a accurate puncher.
AB-In your 41 fight career you have shared the ring with a real list of notable foes, like Jeffrey Mathebula, Mzonke Fana, Cassius Baloyi, Robert Guerrero, Will Tomlinson and Paulus Moses. Who would you say was the best fighter you've faced?
MK-The best fighter between Will Tomlinson and Paulus Moses I would say Paulus is a good fighter, I mean he is also a former World Champion my record speaks for it self.
AB-It's clear on twitter that you're trying to secure big bouts and you've called out numerous notable fighters. If you could hand select your next opponent, who would that be?
MK-If I would hand select any fighter to fight for now I would say I would wanna fight anyone....
AB-Finally, is there any idea of when we will be able to see you in the ring next? And what should fans be looking for when you do get back in there?
MK-My nxt fight will be in August in Russia on the 26th with me its fire works and good entertainment thats why im called "The Stone" I will fight Undefeated russian WBC champion (Ed's note - WBC Youth Super Featherweight champion) Mikhail Alexeev and hope I will get Lomachenko or Leo Santa Cruz soon to come. I also wanna say thanx to my Russian Promoter RCC Promotion Mr German Titov and my manager/promoter Mr Alexander King Shah for believing in me and in giving me the opportunity again.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
Over the last few years Alexander King Shah has been putting on some great shows in Asia, winning awards and creating a buzz for his fighters. Although his fighters are getting more and more attention he has mostly gone under-the-radar for fans who haven't followed the growth of boxing in, and around, Singapore and Malaysia.
Thankfully we were able to send some questions off to Mr Shah recently, and get to know him a bit better, whilst getting to learn not only about Mr Shah, but also drove him into boxing, and what he has in the pipeline as he looks to continue to build his reputation in the sport.
AB-Firstly Mr Shah, what drew you into being a boxing promoter, and manager?
AS-I grew up watching Ali and Tyson fights on TV , and also my interest to promote is wanting to be just like Don King during those times promoting big huge fights
AB-Building on that, boxing isn't particularly well linked with Singapore historically, is there any reason you've stuck to Singapore for most of your shows rather than spread into more well defined and established markets like Thailand, Japan and the Philippines?
AB-If you look deep in history of Singapore boxing Singapore actually do have more than 200 local pro boxers recorded by Boxrec, this was like 40 to 50 yeas ago and it was confirmed by many senior citizens in Singapore most of those have passed and some can't be found.they have kept themself at a low profile level .
Singapore was the Mecca of boxing in Asia this was also confirmed by many
That is why I am doing most of my promotions in Singapore to revive back the interest among the public but I'm not closing my doors I do have vision and would love to promote elsewhere too I did promote this Jan in JOHOR Malaysia
AB-As a promoter you've had a real mix of fighters on your card, and worked with some of the best prospects from Central Asia, which of those fighters would you say puts on the best fights for the fans?
AS-I've got alot of feedback from fight fans there are 3 fights tat gave them goosebumps
Qudratilo Vs Adonis cabalquinto
Azizbek Vs Martin Rios
Farkhan Vs Kaseba
AB-And staying on that note, which fighters do you work with? Is there quite a big stable of contracted fighters that you have or is it a case of working on a fight-by-fight basis with fighters?
AS-I have signned 2 fighters World Champion Malcolm Klassen from south Africa and former 2 times Wbc Asia champion Roman Zohailov from Uzbekistan, I just signed them exclusively and will be working closely with them , Malcolm klassen first comeback fight will be in Russia this august agaisnt Russian 10-0 undefeated super Featherweight Mikhail Alexeev
AB-Although your shows have been stacked with really interesting match ups I can't say I've been able to see streams of many of them, has there been problems getting TV coverage in Singapore for your shows? If so has there been thoughts of working with television companies like Boxnation in the UK to try and increase coverage of your fighters?
AS-Most local singapore TV stations don't pay for TV rights but I'm working on something we have been approach by a foreign TV stations and will looking into negotiating with them
AB-Outside of the fighters you manage, and as a fan, what is the one dream bout you wish you could make before the end of 2017? And likewise using a fighter you do work with, what fight would you like to make with one of those?
AS-My Dream is to promote the WBC world title and to make Malcolm Klassen a WBC World champion , there have been talks about lomachenko vs Klassen in the near future to come many fight fans wants to know about it what I can say that it might happen and if it does it will be a dream fight for me and Malcolm and the whole of Africa
As you know lomachenko is the best in the world nobody have yet to beat him* he was supposed to fight Gamboa but it didn't happen and klassen to was supposed to fight Gamboa and it didn't happen
But Lomachenko Vs Klassen I hope it will happen I know there are rumours about this matchup as for now we will concentrate fighting Mikhail in Russia we go one at a time
*(Ed's note- at 130lbs Lomachenko is unbeaten)
AB-Of course you won the 2016 Asian Boxing Promoter of the Year, would you regard that as your biggest honour in boxig so far?
AS-I was honoured and emotional all hard work paid off without the help of many like my partner's family and friends non of this would happen also the Singapore fans have been fantastic , this is th biggest award I received from WBC , the first award I received from WBC was when I promoted 4 Wbc Asia titles in a single nite breaking Brico Satig records , I laugh but we are friends
AB-Could you tell us anything about your future plans? Is there any more big shows coming up in 2017 from yourself or any other big signings on the horizon?
AS-Currently we are in talks for Farkhan Vs Manus boonchanung, the history Manus was an Olympic gold medallist and a Thai superstar ,Farkhan beat him in sea games that put Manus into retirement after that fight and now both are in the pro boxing and Manus wants a rematch but in a pro fight this fight will happen in Malaysia and it will be a Superfight I hope to get the fight on Live TV in Malaysia and Thailand
We are also looking to sign Female pro boxers we have been scouting and in talks with some of them hope it will happen soon
AB-I see you've left Cartel Promotions (Alex recently tweeted that he'd left), can I ask what the reason for the split was?
AS-I left Cartel International Promotions because I have other plans like signing and managing fighters also to build up my own branding e.g Alexander King Management although we split i am still In good terms with the board of directors
AB-Finally, any final words for our readers?
AS-2017 is still the begining winning the Wbc Asia promoter of the year award signing World champion Malcolm Klassen. I how fight fans around the world could give Singapore a chance watch and support fights here we have several other promoters promoting their own events and I hope they too get the most of support from fight fans around the world
AB-Thank you very much for your time Alexander, it's much appreciated and good luck in the future, especially with your two new signings.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
Over the weekend we had a chance to send an interview the way of Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart (8-5-1, 7). The Light Middleweight-come-Middleweight celebrates his 6th year as a professional fighter in 2017 and looks to continue on a career which has seen him share the ring with a world title challenger and reach the final of the All Japan Rookie of The Year. Although not a huge name Brandon has always been of interst to use as a foreign fighter making his way in Japan and really charmed us a little whilst back with an apearance in a Morioka Gym video promoting one of their shows
Like many fighters who fight away from their land of birth Brandon has had a great reaction from the fans in his new home and has really made himself a part of the local community, as you'll find out during the interview, which we really do want to say a huge public thank you for.
Asian Boxing-Hi Brandon, thanks for agreeing to this interview, it means a lot to us and our readers, especially given the language barrier a lot of Western fans have with Japanese boxing in general. That leads nicely into my first question, how hard was it to adapt to life in Japan as a "Gaijin" in the country? And what originally attracted you to Japan to in the first place?
Brandon Lockhart-In my opinion, moving to a foreign for anyone is a huge leap into the unknown. Small things we don't pay attention to or take for granted can become bigger things in other countries. My transition to the Japanese life style was smooth in my opinion. I previously studied abroad here for 4 months in college, so I had a feint idea about life here. Even though my time abroad here helped, there were many things I was not prepared for such as long periods of isolation, working in a different culture and system, and being totally independent. But I learned to adjust and had an open minded which I think is the most important thing to have living in a different culture.
I first came to Japan because I just wanted to experience something different. Up until that point I had never been abroad in my adult life. I just wanted to get away in a sense and have a story to tell.
AB-Along a similar line, what attracted you to boxing?
BL-Boxing has always been something I have been interested in. Growing up my family and friends would get together and watch matches on cable TV. Huge stars such as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe were from my city of Brooklyn, so it filled us with a sense of pride. At a young age basketball was a common and readily accessible sport so that's what I came to love. It wasn't until I came to Japan that I found a boxing gym near my house, so then I decided to give it a shot.
AB-Again staying with your early boxing, did you have much of an amateur career or not?
BL-In the beginning, it was just for fun and fitness but then I started to become serious. Without any experience I decided to become pro. So I learned along the way, which has been difficult but rewarding. I learned so much about myself in the ring. My fears, worries, strengths and ability to persevere after a hard lose. My biggest learning experience has been the lesson of controlled aggression. KOs are great but just brute strength is not enough in this sport. Thinking, adjusting, pacing and timing are keys to be great in this sport. Watching better fighters than myself and losing fights have taught me to be mentally strong as well as physically.
AB-During your career you've faced a few notable fighters, who would you say the toughest you've faced, and what about them made them tougher than the others?
BL-To date I think my hardest fight was the Fuchigami fight. Not so much that he was a better fighter than me, but because there were so many new things I wasn't accustomed to. Being a main event fighter, going to fight so far from home, him having so much more experience than me and having the pressure put on myself that I would lose on the score card if the fight went the distance. I was overwhelmed by the experience so when I knocked him down twice I kind of tightened up and went for the kill too early and ran out of gas. But because of this experience, I became a better fighter.
[Editors note - Makoto Fuchigami is a former Japanese an Oriental Middleweight champion best known for facing Gennady Golovkin in a world title bout. Brandon fought him in June 2016]
AB-Is there any idea when you'll be back in the ring? Or who your team are looking at get you in with next?
BL-Not too sure on my next opponent yet but hopefully soon there will be talks soon. I'm ready to get back in the ring.
AB-I know you're part of the Morioka gym, which also has Naoto Iwai and Hinata Maruta among others, what's the general feel of the gym?
BL-The gym is like family. I'm so proud and honored to be apart of Morioka gym. We support each from the small kids to the pros to the regular gym members. We all want to achieve the best for each other. We are taught not to be just good fighters but also good human beings. Greetings and how you conduct yourself are important points in life that are reinforced in the gym. It's something's difficult to fit in Japan being a foreigner, but I feel right at home in Morioka gym.
AB-Away from boxing I understand your a teacher, what was it about teaching that appealed so much?
BL-Well, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I lost my way in college and really didn't have a clue in what I wanted to do in life. So I came to Japan on a program called J.E.T. It's a program where native english speakers come to assist in schools around Japan. I enjoyed teaching but was put in a very limited role due to the emphasis of test based English rather than conversational English. So with the help of a friend, I run an English conversational school in my city. It has its up and downs but I enjoy it very much.
AB-And moving further away from boxing what do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
BL-In my down time I like to play video games, watch movies and enjoy time with my kids. I have 2 girls aged 10 and 8, and a boy who just turned 2. So I'm always doing something. Lol. It's great being a father.
AB-Also is there any messages you'd like to leave fans with? Any parting words?
BL-Just want to let everyone know that life is a strange and wonderful thing that we don't know where it will take us. Just enjoy the ride, give thanks and take it for what it is.
Again we'd like to say a huge thanks to Brandon for taking time out of his week to answer our questions and we wish him, and the rest of the Morioka gym, the best of luck in the future.
(Image of Brandon courtesy of the Morioka gym)
On July 2nd fight fans in Japan will Charles Bellamy (25-3-1, 17) return to the Yano Fitness Center in Zama, his third bout at the venue, for his first contest of 2016. That will see the Japanese based American, also known as "Charlie Ota", face Elfelos Vega (6-3, 4) in the co-main event. Ahead of that bout we managed to put some questions to Charlie, asking generally about his boxing career.
Asian Boxing- Firstly, what got you into boxing in the first place?
Charles Bellamy-I liked fighting. Growing up I enjoyed fighting more than playing sports actually. But people get confused on when a person says they enjoy fighting with a person who just bullies and picks on people. I could go somewhere agree to fight someone it ll be a good fight then go chill and hang out with them. So it was easy to get into all types of fighting sports Taekawondo, karate, wrestling etc. As I got older I needed to do something official cause only a very few people could enjoy fighting without taking it personal. Being a huge Roy Jones Jr fan there was a gym near the place I was staying so I started going and kept getting better so I wanted to see how far I could get.
AB-Presumably you had an amateur background, so could you perhaps tell us something about your days in the unpaid ranks?
CB-Well when I first started going to the gym I fought about 7 amateur matches and won them. Within those 7 wins I was able to win a pretty big amateur tournament out here in Japan. (Where I began boxing.) So I decided to start taking it more serious.
AB-Of course most fight fans will be aware that you're one of the more notable “gaijin” fighters, could you tell us what made you want to make a name for yourself in Japan rather than the US?
CB-I was in the Navy and was stationed out here in Japan. When I was getting out of the military honorable discharged I went back to my hometown in Maryland for a while. At that time the economy wasn't doing so well in the States plus other situations were not looking good. Before I left Japan I applied for a few jobs, one of them teaching/tutoring English. To my surprise at that time I got the job so I decided to stay in Japan after the military. I found it easier to live in Japan than in the U.S.
AB-Could you perhaps also tell us something about your team in Japan. Who are the key figures at the Hachioji Nakaya Boxing Gym?
CB-I was with Hachioji Nakaya Boxing gym for a long time. Little by little we didn't see eye to eye on things and separated. By chance I was able to start training at Teiken gym and that is who I am with now.
AB-Staying with your career in Japan, where you've fought 26 of your 29 professional bouts, what was the toughest bout in the country?
CB-Boxing takes a lot of energy as we all know. I had to start of fighting 6 rounds which was tough without much experience. Then soon I had to fight an 8 rounder against a fighter named Tsuyoshi Kamiishi. He was a swarmer type that threw a lot of punches. I just remember being dead tired and I have to keep fighting back while fatigue and soreness were setting in. They next day I was very sore. (Note- Charlie beat Kamiishi with a unanimous decision)
AB-How do you feel the Japanese fans, and officials, have treat you in the country since you began your career there almost 10 years ago?
CB-I would say I've been treated well by both. Of course at first it's hard not knowing many people but slowly I gained respect, put on some good fights and in general been a good dude so more people started to show appreciation.
AB-What fight do feel was your best performance?
CB-Hmmm it still hasn't come yet. A little more. But I felt I had good fights vs Shibata the second time (WTKO6), vs Marumoto (WTKO6) and vs Numata (WKO9).
AB-Fans in the US will of course remember your bout with Jermell Charlo (LUD12) from 2014. Whilst you lost that bout you did leave an impression on Charlo, dropping him in round 3, would you say he was your most well schooled opponent so far?
CB-Yes he is. The thing that really stood out to me about that fight was the teamwork his team displayed to prepare their fighter.
AB-On a little bit more of a personal level, who do you consider as your best friends in the sport?
CB-A few guys I hang with that make music out here in Japan known as The Bridge.
AB-If we remember correctly there was a close friendship between yourself and Nihito Arakawa, was he one of the key figures when you two were stable mates?
CB-Nihito is a good friend of mine. He also decided to part ways with Hachioji Nakaya Boxing gym a little before I did but we are still cool. He's doing very well for himself now. (Nihito recently won the Japanese Lightweight title)
AB-Also what are the plans for this year? Will you be making another run at a Japanese or OPBF title? Or maybe thinking of a change in weight class? Finally, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans?
CB-Well I was gone for a little while because I had to deal with some personal matters. Now I am back active I'm shooting straight up step by step. Get ranked, eliminator, title match. First I have to do it on the Domestic and Region area then be ready to step up to world class. Thank you to the people who always show True support. Always, I appreciate it.
AB-Thank you for your time Charlie and good luck on July 2nd
(Image courtesy of the excellent boxmob.jp)
Not sure this needs to be explained! But here are out interviews with fighters!