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Woo Interviews MMA Fighter John Lewis

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Apr/23/2009
John Lewis

John Lewis is a guy that's been involved with Mixed Martial Arts before it was even legal.  We discuss everything from his fighting career to his different successful business ventures including his own MMA fighting school in Las Vegas. 

JENNY:  What do you think is the biggest difference between when you had started fighting and today?  As you started in 1995 - correct?  And are you surprised how big the sport has gotten?

JOHN:  Actually I started years before that but 1995 was my first fight on national TV and was an important fight because it was for a title against a Gracie.  At the time the Gracie family was considered unbeatable.  Until after that fight.  As to your question, back then the sport was illegal in most states so there were a lot less people in the audience.  There were no judges so to win you had to knock out or submit your opponent or no matter how much you beat them up, it would be considered a draw.  I have draws again great fighters like Gracie, Johil De Oliveira, and Rumina Sato that I dominated.  We also fought with no gloves in those days.  We were only allowed to tape our wrists.  Of coarse the money was much less.  I fought that Gracie fight for $0 if I lose and only $4,000 if I win and that was a main event.  Another thing is that there were no rounds.  The fight we are talking about was one, 30 min round.  Much less rules then.  Actually, I am the one that inspired the no elbows to the back of the head rules.  As we would do things that were too dangerous in those days, new rules would be added to the sport.  Over all...good times.

JENNY:  Do you see more diversity today with the fighting technique and the fighters?

JOHN:  Of course.  Evolution is inevitable in all things.  I think that I was one of the first fighters that were trained in multiple martial arts.  In those days most of the fighters were great at one aspect of the game.  Fighters now days are truly mixed martial artists although MOST of them are good at everything but not great at one thing.  There are some exceptions obviously.

JENNY:  Is there a specific fighter out there today that you see standing out?

JOHN:  Anderson Silva is a very special fighter.  St. Pierre is pretty good too.  I like his consistency.  I think now that Gilbert Yvel has moved here to the states, he will make a huge mark in the sport. An old school legend, Vitor Belfort is now better and more focused than he has ever been.

JENNY:  What's the biggest advice that you can give to someone just getting started in the industry?

JOHN:  Don't rush.  Your record is everything in the beginning.  If you find yourself having to scramble from position to position no matter how well you do, you are not ready.  Once you get into the big shows, things move very quickly.  Say you get thrown in early in some smaller shows with mediocre fighters, and you win.  After a few fights you get noticed...cool.  Then you go from there, you get into the UFC or Affliction.  Now there is no turning back.  Most likely you will win and lose and have a non-stellar fighting career.  Even worse, the non-impressive fight record you build will ensure that you won't make the real money.  Protect your record by training and being able to answer any situation in a match intelligently and technically.  That is the big picture if you are serious about making MMA your career.

JENNY:  What's the worst injury you've ever gotten or ever given someone fighting?

JOHN:  Probably the broken jaw from Pulver.  Wired shut for six weeks.  Wasn't fun.

JENNY:  What key info can you give someone like me that doesn't know much about the sport?

JOHN:  Well that would depend on what your goals are.

JENNY:  You have a school in Vegas - J-Sect Jiu Jitsu.  Are you currently fighting now or have you been getting more into training others?

JOHN:  Throughout my 11 year fighting career I have also trained great fighters such as Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Matt Lindland, BJ Penn, Gilbert Yvel, Maurice Smith, and Frank Trigg just to name a few.  I have had my school for 13 years and the first MMA School in Las Vegas.  I still teach every morning for the most part and love my students and teaching. 

JENNY:  Moving on to your entertainment group - what does John Lewis Entertainment Group offer?  Because on the Myspace page it looks like you guys offer a lot of fun

JOHN:  JLEG is the biggest celebrity based special events company in the US today.  We represent today's biggest Hollywood celebrities and work with over 300 nightclubs through out the US.  If you have ever seen those events like Paris Hilton hosts a fashion show at a nightclub, we would be the company that brought her to the venue, brokered and ran the event.  We build brands by getting them press through celebs and nightlife demographics. 

JENNY:  You're a musician as well.  Where do you see your career as a musician in the future?  And do you write your own music?

JOHN:  I love music.  I love writing and being in the spot light.  On the other hand, I own a booming clothing line called Kings Reign, my entertainment company, a fighters management company with partner Brian Schall called The Fight Agency, and about three other successful companies.  So I am a pretty busy guy these days.  Music is a very important part of my life.  Let's just see where it all takes me.

JENNY:  You seem to do it all.  What do you think consumes most of your time - your school, your music or John Lewis Entertainment Group?

JOHN:  My awesome 6-month-old son.  He whoops my butt.  My time is carefully spent (not wasted) on all of the above.  I have employees and am very skilled in walking and chewing gum.

JENNY:  Thanks John for taking some time out of your busy schedule to sit down with me.

Jenny Woo, Gambling911.com Senior International Correspondent

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