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)
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