April 22, 2011 – When it comes to the candidates on the list to fight former power ranger Jason David Frank. Few are more imposing than Jermaine Anugwom.
At 6’1″ and over 230 pounds, Anugwom is a dedicated lifelong martial artist. In fact, he even runs a school, Windy Sport and Fitness, in College Station where he passes his lifelong passion to others.
Set to make his professional debut at the XFL “Battle at Buffalo Run” card in Oklahoma on may 21st against Alfredo Leija in addition to vying to be the one to fight Jason David Frank at Legacy FC and preparing for the Muay Thai Champion Classic in Iowa in June, this promising fighter looks like he has a busy future in front of him.
I recently caught up to Anugwom to get his perspective on the future and some background on his martial arts history as he prepares for his initial foray into professional Mixed Martial Arts.
What were you doing before martial arts? Can you tell us a little bit about your history growing up?
I’m originally from Southeast Houston. I grew up doing what most kids were doing. I was on the swim team, I played football (I sucked at that), ran track, tried out for basketball. None of that really worked besides swimming.
Tell me about your history in martial arts – what styles have you practiced, when did you start, and why did you begin in the first place?
I started out in martial arts in 1994, back when I was nine years old. Chuck Norris was doing his whole “Kick Drugs Out of America” program and my mom put me in there (karate) every day right after school.
Starting off so young and still doing it, what kind of effect do you think being involved with martial arts has on a person’s life?
Aw man, it gives kids discipline and respect beyond belief. It teaches them etiquette along with that to help them succeed. I think it also allows a person to feel a certain type of empowerment – so they can be confident outside the gym, at school, and everywhere they go.
I know you are famous around these parts for your background in Capoeira. Tell us a little bit about that.
I started capoeira when I was twelve years old. It began when I watched a movie called ‘Only the Strong’ on HBO. After watching that, I started jumping around and imitating the moves with my friends. Shortly after that, I was at this camp I used to go to every summer, Camp Cullen. It just so happened that I met some counselors there who also happened to be caporistas. After I met them, I was up all night trying to learn the moves and that’s been it since then.
It’s funny because I recently heard on the radio that Jonathan Mack was doing capoeira with Kung-Fu Chris or some craziness like that. <laughs> but I consider myself a true caporista.
I consider this art to be just as important for Brazil as jiu-jitsu has been. I’ve been practicing for over fourteen years now and I’m just now considered a professor at it, which is equivalent to a brown belt in BJJ. I definitely try to incorporate the combat aspect of it into my muay-thai with the high kicks, the axe kicks, etc.
Why did you decide to transition from something like capoeira to MMA?
Actually, at first, my ultimate goal was to compete in standup / kickboxing and try to get into leagues like Chuck Norris’ WCL. With MMA really hitting around ’96, the kickboxing and Muay Thai leagues started dwindling down as far popularity and MMA took over so it was a natural progression. I’ve to learn more about the other aspects, like ground, etc. but I like it.
Tell us a little bit about your amateur career. What did you learn from those fights?
My first fight was in 2009 for Gil Guillory’s USAMMA in Louisiana. It ended up being something like a 30-second knockout via head kick. I remember there being something like 5,000 spectators there since it was a huge card. I heard them cheer and I was hooked after that.
I actually started fighting as an amateur with a lot of the guys that are pros now – like Alex Black, Artenas Young, etc. While they kept fighting, I decided to open up a gym. Now that’s good, I think the time is ripe to make a go as a pro.
Also, when I was an amateur, I was very green. My kicks were good but I’d just throw big wild looping punches. I’ve gotten a chance to get a lot more technical as far as that is concerned and I’ve also worked on other aspects, like the ground game, along with some other things like meditation to improve my focus.
How did you get involved with Brett Boyce and Made to Win?
Brett’s a good guy. I was training at Hoger’s about two months ago, working with Kru Ali for my Muay Thai and doing drills to help Chico get him ready for his Jonathan Mack fight. After that session, I asked Chico who managed him since he’s getting sponsors and having a lot of success marketing. He answered with nothing but good things to say about Brett. From there, he (Boyce) just started asking around about me, we started talking, and a week later I was signed.
Now your name got thrown into the hat along with others for the contest to fight JDF. How did that come about? Why do you want to fight him?
Well at first, we offered to fight JDF when I first signed with Made to Win. Me and JDF actually have history, not bad history but good history. I never trained with him but we know each other through a mutual friend. Brett asked me if I want to fight him specifically. To me, a fight’s a fight, it’s nothing personal like a lot of these guys seem like they have a personal vendetta against JDF. I have nothing against the guy but, like I said, to me a fight’s a fight and that seems like a good one. So yeah, we offered the fight to him. He said no because he was going to be doing something with Strikeforce at the time. So once this contest came up, they sent over the contract and I signed it, and that’s where are now.
What do you think of the accusations that he’s not taking MMA seriously and maybe even fighting teammates in fixed fights. What’s your opinion on that stuff?
I can’t say personally if his fights were fixed or if he takes it (MMA) seriously because I’ve never sat down and talked to the guy or became friends with him on a personal level. What everybody else is saying, more power to them but I don’t have much to say just because I don’t know.
As far as fighting me, I’d definitely be a step up in competition no matter who he’s faced thus far. A lot of people think I’m just a striker but I’ve trained in Sambo for four years so my grappling is pretty good. It would be a great matchup. My striking is excellent and he’s also said he’s trained with Master Toddy and all this other stuff. I’ve trained with a lot of Kru’s myself and things like that so I think it would be a standup war. We could see who has the better Thai, the better striking…
The fact that he didn’t want the fight the first time we offered it, for whatever reason, gives me motivation to want to test his striking ability. I know he’s been working with Tony at Silverback. They have a bunch of good guys over there but this fight will come down to who has the better striking between me and him.
What do you think about the other candidates on the list to be considered to fight JDF?
Shawn Machado, he’s my teammate as well and he has that image, you know what I mean, with the muscles and everything like that. JDF has an image as well so in pictures, that looks like a good fight but if you want to see a real fight, then me versus JDF would be where that’s going to be.
As far as the other guys, I know Edgar, who’s over at SBA, but I don’t know those other two guys.
Why should people choose you to get this opportunity?
If they want to see a knockout, crazy kicks being thrown, strikes coming from everywhere, then they should vote for me. I walk around at 230-240 so I’m probably the biggest challenge out of that list.
How would a fight between you and Frank go? What do you see in your head?
JDF likes to come out strong and I’m going to pace it and put him away with a head kick or left hook.
What do you see a win over Frank doing for your career?
People always say he’s in a lose-lose situation but for anyone who fights him, I think it’d help get my name out there but it is just another fight, really. If you want to see a war and craziness, then go out there and vote.
Any last words?
I want to thank Brett Boyce of Made to Win, who’s my manager. Of course, I want to thank Mike “The Truth” Jackson. Andre Saad with White Boi TV. Chico, he’s been really inspirational, Windy Sport Fitness, Team Bailout MMA, my whole family here with Bobby Powers, etc. Just thanks to those guys and thanks to everybody!