Interview of LEO MONTEIRO by Serge TREFEU (2010)
Serge TREFEU: Hello Leo how you go shape there. You are native of Brazil of Sao Paulo, one very big city, you grew in what district?
LEO MONTEIRO: I grew up in Peruche, north of Sao Paulo city. It’s a violent district, but I survived because I was always away from drugs. But lost most of my friends for drugs, police or jail.
Are you arising from a large family, have you brothers who also practise a combat sport?
My family is small, only my mom and one young brother. My brother started train capoeira, but he stopped after 2 years.
You began the combat sports with Capoeira, a very redoubtable Brazilian martial art. Sao Paulo is a megalopolis with certain dangerous district, what is that you learnt this art to defend yourself or simply by passion for this discipline?
No I didn’t start for self-defense. I decided to train when I first watch UFC. I did see Marco Ruas throwing some low kicks, also Maurice Smith. That time I didn’t like jiu-jitsu and tried find a muay thai school, but I was not able. Then I start with capoeira when I was 16 years old, but I admit, before that I fight too much on the streets and school because I always was the shortest.
You practised this Brazilian martial art during of numerous years, then you began Muay Thai, who attracted you in this new Martial art that is Muay Thai?
Capoeira was my life for many years, but one of my instructors, Eduardo Pamplona, started with muay thai. Some years later he opened his school and invited me for try one class in 2003-2004. I tried and love it.
What was your first gym of Thai boxing in Brazil, with which trainer you began?
Eduardo Pamplona was student of Moises “Gibi” de Sousa, and the team was Gibi Thai. I only train with Pamplona, and he taught me everything before Thailand. His trademark is make “tough fighters”. Sometimes not good skills, but always good heart, otherwise Pamplona don’t allow you to fight under his name.
The Thai boxing is developed well in Brazil, is what there are often events of organized in the country?
No. There’s only some K-1 rules shows, amateur kickboxing tournaments, but not good money for the fighters. Full Thai rules are none, unfortunately. Nowadays there’s 3-4 big in all year. MMA is a lot bigger now. Everybody is learning jiu-jitsu and going to the cage. Also because they pay 5 times more.
Brazilians like the combat sports and with legends as Royce Gracie and Rickson Gracie, Brazil is considered as having great fighters in Ju-Jitsu and MMA, you think that in the future Brazilians are also going to like Muay Thai and have the known champions worldwide as the Gracie brother’s?
For get this level, we need Thaïs teaching in Brazil, or Brazilians with experience in Thailand. And after, competitions for these students fight. That’s the only way. There’s only one small show where they’re training like in Thailand, and they almost have “Thai rules”. At least one guy is trying, hope success for him.
How much you have make of fights in Brazil in Thai boxing?
I made 4 amateur, and 8 professional K1 rules fights back home.
In 2007 you leave for Thailand, it is the first time when you went in this country, tell us your first impressions when you arrived to the country of Muay Thai?
HOT! When the airport door opened, and I felt the weather I was only thinking how to train on that weather. But after, I realized this place is very similar to Brazil, the food is awesome, and I fell at home here.
In what camp you went you training the first time and how it is crossed your first stay?
I came with Cosmo, our girlfriends, and Cosmo’s former coach, Sandro. We don’t have gym, hotel, or somebody for pick us up in the airport. We took a taxi and he left us at Kaosan Road. But back in Brazil, for 6 months we had a Thai coach, and Sandro had a picture with him. After some days Sandro went to Lumpinee, and start to show the picture and somebody took the phone and call Pailotnoi, head trainer at Rompsithong gym. Next day we move to Samutsakhon and start to train there. Was like a dream, and we really got fun there.
Then you come back in Thailand and you stay one year, where you were training and what fighters you met during this year?
I came in 2007, and since that I’m here. I only came back to Brazil in september 2008 for 1 month holidays. I trained at Rompsithong in Samutsakon, Chay Yai Gym in Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui for over 1 year, and since April 2009 I’m in Bangkok. I met a lot of Thaïs, and some foreigners like Zig Zach, Andrei Kulebin, and Benny Ritter.
Today you are definitively installed in Thailand, in what camp you train and how it takes place with whom you train, who is your coach?
I’m at Kiatpetch gym and Chiap is my trainer. My main training partners are Saketdao, Tukkatatong, Sittisak, Fahmai and Chockchai, because we all have almost the same weight and it’s very good. Everyday I can learn something.
Tell us your typical day of training, and then, what you make after the training, your daily activities in Thailand?
In the morning we run 10km, shadow boxing, pads, clinch, and exercises. Some days we run 14km, 600 knees on the bag and exercises. Afternoon is the same, but we only run for 20 min. Sometimes sparring, more rounds in the pads, clinch, and sometimes sprint. No extra activities when I’m training for fight, I can only eat and sleep.
You like the Thai culture?
Very different from Brazilian culture, but I love it. The respect, freedom and the Buddhist way of life.
What you like most in Thailand?
Issan food. That’s a problems and I always get fat after fights.
How long you think of staying in Thailand, what is that you have a precise objective, would like you to be made a name over there as fighter?
I really don’t know. I’m very happy here, I have my girlfriend, and everything, talking about fights, is easier and closer than Brazil. I can fight a lot, and make muay thai my only job. Here I can only train and fight. My main focus is build my name like many other foreigners, and of course make some money. And when you insist and believe, you can get whatever you want.
Since you are installed in Thailand what is what it happened that to you some thing of unusual, strange, in relation with the training or with a fight which you could tell us?
There’s a lot of crazy histories, but I’ll tell the first history. After 2 weeks in Thailand, Cosmo was invited for make his first fight. He did everything good, and we went to the place. A small fair close to Samutsakhon. We were the only falangs (foreign) in the place, but arrived another one. Cosmo’s opponent. The fight was supposed to be 75kg, but Cosmo is a big fell for that weight, and the boy, and his coach, got scared.
– No, he’s too big, but we can fight the small one.
The small one was me, 10kg smaller, and Pailotnoi said:
– Youuuu! Wrap hands and massage!
– What? I didn’t come for fight, I came for watch!
– Leu! (quick!)
I borrow everything from Cosmo, even his mouthpiece, fought, and I win.
In what category you fight in Thailand?
135 to 140lb
What are the known boxers that you faced over there?
Andrei Kulebin, Benny Ritter, Zig Zach, Ahmed Saadi, Kurt Finlayson, Eikkasit Sitkorkrai, Petchmai PetchJaopraya.
How much you have make of fights in Thailand?
Around 30 fights
Until today in your career you add up how many fights, victories and defeats?
46 fights, 29 wins, 1 draw
You gained many fights by KO?
What are your strong points?
Knees. I like to pressure and make my opponents tired.
And your weak points which you would more like to work?
My boxing. Need to improve it as soon as possible.
There is a particular technique which you like making in fight?
The clinch. For me this is the muay thai secret, and when you learn it, you can fight everyone
You fought in what stadium of the country?
Bangla in Phuket, Tapae in Chiang Mai, Petchbuncha and Chaweng in Koh Samui, Rajadamnern in Bangkok
In what stadium you had most sensation?
For sure Rajadamnern
Have you already fought on the King’s Birthday?
Yes, I fought in 2008 against Federico Paccini from Italy, and won on points.
What are the titles which you gained and against whom?
WMC MAD against for thet Zig Zach, and Chaweng Stadium belt against Benny Ritter.
Who are for you the best fighters in Thailand in your category?
Saketdao, Duangsonpong, Orono, Panpet.
You think of meeting them soon?
Big challenge for me now, but if my promoter invite me, is because I’m ready and can win.
And at the world level what are the fighters whom you would like to face, why?
I want to test myself against the best around 62kg. There are a lot of good names like Fabio Pinca, Liam Harrison, Flip Street, Nakamura, Mosab Amrani, Wanmario Kaewsamrit, and any of them, for sure, will be a good test for me.
So far what was your hardest fight?
Was against Anderson Coelho in Brazil. I was in my 6th fight and he has a lot more experience than me. I lose the fight on points, but he studied my game and I have no distance for kicks or knees. He punched me for 3 rounds, and I couldn’t do anything, but I learned a lot from that fight.
Have you already had a fight or you lost in points and finally you return the situation for win?
There’s a lot, but my last fight was like this. Round 1 he hit me some punches and dropped me twice, but I raised quick, and the referee didn’t open 8 counts. I was a lot behind, but R3 I came back and change the odds. But the judges give me a draw.
Your best memory of boxing until today?
My first international belt against Zig Zach.
And the worst?
Two losses to Andrei Kulebin.
Do you make a good living thanks to Muay Thai, you have of good purse in Thailand?
In Thailand is getting better because now I start to fight in Thai circuit, but overseas it’s ok. I can pay my bills and save some coins.
On February 26th in Lumpinee two French are going to fight for a belt of Lumpinee, what is that you too would like to have the opportunity to fight for this prestigious belt?
I did read about it. For Kamel will be harder. The Lumpinee champion 135lb is Saketdao Petpayathai, fighter of the year 2009, strong, and very tall. Tanongdetch Petpayathai the champion 147lb, and also WPMF 154lb, but is not active like Saketdao. Farid is bigger, but I want to see how Farid going to make this weight in the morning of fight. I need to prove a lot before deserve this kind of chance. I only feel sad because some Thaïs fought all their life’s and didn’t get a chance like this.
Do you know French champions and of what do you think of French fighters?
I know a lot of French fighters, and for me, the best all the time was JC Skarbowski. France, together with Australia, have the best tradition in muay thai, after Thailand of course. Strong punches and forward style. Nowadays, the best French fighter pound for pound is Fabio Pinca. Met him in Thailand last year, and his fight against Danthai was impressive.
Would you like to come to fight in France challenged one of our champions?
Of course, will be a pleasure fight in France under full thai rules. My weight is 62-63,5kg and I’m ready.
What are your next dates of fight and against whom?
After the last fight at Rajadamnern some people tell me about a rematch at Channel 7 in February, but not sure yet. 100% is Abbas Ahmadi in Malaysia on March 27th.
What is your objective for 2010?
Make a good fights, beat some good names, and push my price up. I’m training hard for it, and the first challenge will be at Z1 finals in Malaysia.
You want to add anything?
Thanks to Mr. Chun for the gym, Chiap and Petchpayao for teach me in Thailand, Eduardo Pamplona, and all my fans.
A last question compulsory to ask you for a Brazilian, who sees you victorious for the football World Cup 2010 in South Africa in final?
I check the groups and I can see Brazil being champion over Argentina in the final.
Thank you for this interview and CHOOKDEE for your fights
Merci Serge, that’s my pleasure, and thanks for the space
Number of fight: 46 fights, 29 wins, 1 draw, 15 KO’s
Title: WMC MAD Champion, Chaweng Stadium, Sao Paulo Champion
Gym: Kiatpetch Gym