If JackalTV is a good way to kill an evening watching some videos, then I’ve now got stuff for you tonight that’ll kill some time reading. Fedor recently did an interview with a Russian website, and some hardcore fan from Sherdog.net named ‘stripthesoul’ translated the whole thing. So let that be a lesson to you that good things sometimes do come out of that den of idiocy.
Fedor’s normally a boring son of a bitch, but I think that’s just the case when the interviewer isn’t Russian. In this interview he talks all about the Sambo tournaments and fighters asking him not to hurt them, his brother Aleks and how they’re not very close, and his thoughts on shit talkers. No mention of the UFC or Dana White in there, but it’s not like we don’t already know his thoughts on that particular issue. Full interview is after the jump!
Fedor Interview March 21st 2008
The Best Fighter in the world in Chuck Norris version. (They mean Chuck Norris here as an org, like UFC. Doesn’t make much sense in English, I know; but they’re trying to make a joke in Russian).
We missed our Tula train – so Fedor Emelianenko had to wait for us near the Kursk station entrance. He was wearing worn out jeans and a funny hat – nobody recognized him. Legend of legends. One of the most mystical personalities in the sports world: in Mixed Martial Arts, Emelianenko, the first Russian world champion, doesn’t know defeat. And each fight, according to rumors, adds half a million dollars to his bank account.
No one recognizes you on the train?
– Nope, – laughs it off – , I sat down in the corner, pulled down my hat – and fell asleep.
His nickname in Japan is “Emperor”, and he knows what national worship is. He cannot even freely take a step in Seoul or Tokyo. That’s why he doesn’t want to lose a minute of having a calm mind – at least noone here bothers him, or whispers behind his back.
But he doesn’t even take of his hat in Moscos. We though he’s trying to hide from his followers. But it turned out to be much simpler:
– Sorry guys, I will keep the hat on. I got a flue after President’s Cup in Sambo. Doctors are asking to be careful. Honestly, I just came to my senses. Spent ten days in Pyatigorsk. Mineral baths, mud procedures…
So you’re better now – thank god. What did you do in Tula?
– I visited my wife and daughter, they live there for now. Vasilisa is just a tiny thing, was born on 29th of December. As soon as I finish building the house in Stary Oskol I will move them there, won’t take long.
Fedor, you probably read the Chuck Norris interview in new year’s issue of SE?
– I think I read it, but don’t remember the details
You don’t remember, how Chuck called you the best figher of all times and nations? And added: “There is noone in Martial Arts who could beat Emelianenko”
– That’s Chuck’s opinion, I don’t think of myself as that strong. I just train alot – so that’s why I am able to escape defeat so far. I’m trying to do everything, so that Russia takes first place in world ratings. But of course it’s very flattering that Chuck says such things.
Where did you meet him?
– In Las Vegas. There was an event – and before entering the arena Chuck came up to me and introduced himself.
He introduced himself? That’s funny…
– We didn’t really talk, just exchanged a few words
So when was he able to see, that you’re a man of an incredible soul? That is also one of his quotes
– Probably read my interviews. Also you can tell a person’s character from seeing him in the ring. Although, I sometimes read a fighter’s interview – and cannot believe my eyes. I know for sure that he is totally different in real life. Normal guy. Then I understand: he’s trying to get a stuck-up image through the newspapers. But I don’t do that.
Was there an interview that really made you mad?
– No. It’s all nonsense.
We remember the interview from Brazilian fighter – Nogueira. He tried so hard to talk smack about you.
– That’s nonsense as well. Why should I get upset?
Then why didn’t you chose to be silent? You answered each of his points?
– I wouldn’t initiate it myself. Friends asked me to answer his comments. So I told everyone how it is in reality. But didn’t have any anger inside. I beath Nogueira twice at that point, why should I get angry? Let him get angry at those defeats. Instead he spits garbage, so that he can get another fight with me. He’s trying to get a new fight, tries to prove something.
Before you appeared in Mixed Martial Arts, Nogueira was considered unbeatable. What is your technical advantage above the hero of yesterday?
– We studied Brazilian Jiu-Jiutsu very closely. We knew all of their minuses – for example, these fighters have a weak throwing technique. Plus I have better speed than Nogueira. So that’s how I built that fight.
Fedor Emelianenko’s fights is a sight to behold. His height is not the greatest compared to other fighters – 183 centimeters. Weight – barely over a hundred. The fighters he fights are really huge, much higher and wider in the shoulders.
His fights against Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera five years ago can be viewed as a thriller. Emelianenko beat him by decision and took his title. A year and a half later the fight hapenned again, and Emelianenko got a cut. If it was due to a punch or kick – the championship title would be given back to the Brazilian. But they clashed their hads and instead the fight was stopped, and Fedor kept his title. Noguiera didn’t like that. But in the third bout our warrior won by decision once again – and the Brazilian didn’t say anything after that.
Which stars besides Chuck Norris did you meet?
– I’m friends with Jean Claude
– Yes. Many stars atten Mixed Martial Arts events – I saw George Clooney, Bruce Willis… I know that they follow my fights, want to meet. But so far I didn’t have a chance.
Did you have any offers to be in movies?
– More than once. Even Van Damme wanted me to be in the sequel to Blood Sport, but something didn’t work out with finances, and the project was postponed. I turn down other offers, because filming would take tons of my time, and I wouldn’t get a chance to fully commit myself to training.
Would you want to try it later?
– Probably. It’s interesting to me.
Do you talk with other Russian actors?
– I have a good relationship with Oleg Taktarov. I heard that many actors, ours and from Hollywood, like my fights. I know Aleksander Revoy from “Comedy Club”, funny guy…
How did you meet?
– Him and I were part of support group, when Sochi was chosen to be the next olympic location.
In Japan and America you don’t need to explain who is Emelianenko. In Russia it’s harder. Some people, when hearing the name, may clap their hands in excitements. Others will look with confusion: who is Emelianenko? For those we are reporting: Fedor – a legend not only in Mixed Martial Arts, but in Sambo as well. Won Europian championships many times. You cannot count his titles.
In all of his victories he did not forget his first training session. He remembers with a smile, how he was walking down into the basement, which was used previously as a bomb shelter. How he started to train in his work clothes instead of traditional Sambo gi. And how nobody saw a future star in him, during his young years.
Fans want to know more about Emelianenko. They ask him humorous questions, like “Dear Fedor, how many teeth did your opponents knocked out of you?” Emelianenko doesn’t even get serious when answering “Not one. I lost my teeth in the army. They have horrible water, and no dentists”.
He talks about things, that most people would rather erase from their memory. How he could not pull out the title of Master of Sport before joining the army. That’s why he ended up in the regular barracks, not in sport section. He mentions: “In Judo and Sambo money and judges decide everything. I was always judged against.”
But he did not waste time in the army. There were always cross running and a barbell.
In the rest of the article, Fedor talks about his brother (not too many good things to say), and other interesting bits
So why did many counted you as a fighter without a bright future?
– I really did not stand out. Trainers look at talent above everything else. They look at how many fights a boy wins. They bet only on those fighters, who can produce results, even with young fighters.
You were not that fighter?
– I had more defeats than victories. It all changed after many hard years of training. I became a new person after the army. Army made a man out of me. I really gained physical strength there. And then the victories came. I got into the Russian team – in both Judo and Sambo.
You served in a fire-fighter unit?
I spent a year in a fire-fighter unti, then went into the tank division. Actually, that’s where I had to use my physical strength outside the ring.
Your fellow soldiers didn’t like you?
– I came in March right in time for the Fall draft. Those who were there before me, wanted to prove who’s the boss in the place, tried to everyone else down. I had to use my fists.
– No, there were a few times. But respect came quickly to me, and to the guys who were alongside me.
Did you have to use your fists in bars?
– No. Hope, I won’t have to be in those kind of circumstances. I’m shy: I sit somewhere in the corner, so that noone would notice me.
Your first fight in Mixed Martial Arts against Levan Lobelav was saved on a tape?
– It exists somewhere. I saw it long time ago. When I watch my old fights, I understand how I grew. The mistakes are so apparent. But you can see in those fights that I was moving in the right direction.
Do you remember a moment of intense physical pain in your life?
– Probably when I was a kid. Although a few years ago I was knocked down – very unpleasant feeling. That was my first fight as a world champion with a Japanese fighter Fujita. But I won anyway.
Where did he strike you?
– In the temple. It was not even pain, it was something else. I didn’t even understand what hapenned.
Can you read fear in your opponent’s eyes when they face you before the fight?
– I never look in the eyes of my opponent
– I don’t know. It just how it always was. If I do look, nothing will change.
What is the secret in your unbeatability?
– In my work. I’m always training hard – wrestle, box, run. Neverending preparational exercises. Rope jumping, dip bars.
Your opponents also do not sit with their arms bent.
– I work with my head. Everything I do needs to be received by my body. You cannot gorge yourself and then sit on a toilet for half a day. You need to eat a certain way so that your body accepts it the right way. And I train the same way: so that the work would produce results. Besides, I don’t have a problem with conditioning.
Did you ever meet a fighter that works more during training?
– It’s possible, youth today works even harder. But the time spent in the gym is not the most important. What important, is how a person can use the skills and techniques.
At some point you stopped including weights altogether in your training. Why?
– It was excessive. I have my own methods.
Which fight took you the most time to train for?
– Preparation for each fight takes about two months. Except for the fight with Mirko Crocop, I spent more time. I went to Holland to study Thai Boxing. To hang in the fight, I needed to become a more universal fighter in a short time.
Mirko really deserves an exclusive approach?
– Definitely! This fighter was second and third in the world rating, appeared in the finals of K-1 Gran Pri.
What’s his strength?
– He can hammer you with his left kick so hard that any opponent will be knocked out cold. His hands are also in order, moves around the ring perfectly. But the most important thing was to find an antidote to his kicks.
So you learned Thai Boxing. Did you study any other martial arts?
– Regular boxing. All the other martial arts I learned before Mirko’s fight.
Coach of CSKA Basketball team – Ettore Messina once said: “I physically have a sense of fear of losing – I even lose my breath…” Do you experience this?
– No. Before my fight, I don’t think at all about a victory or defeat. I just come out and try to outwork my opponent. Outwit him.
Were there fights that you won by luck?
– It was hard during President’s cup in St Petersburg. During the beginning of the fight I was cut. It would’ve been sad to lose because of this. Especially before President Putin, who just entered the arena. But everything turned out OK.
– By submission.
In November in Prague Emelianenko became a World Champion in Sambo for the fourth time. In fact he only spent over a minute to do so. Uzbek Rustamov, after learning that he will face Fedor in quarter finals quit the competition. The same happenned with Ukrainian Begeza. Only Bulgarian Dimitrov did not fear Emelianenko. But only lasted 40 seconds in semifinal. Fedor did not hide his surprise: “For the first time I was met with the total refusal by my opponents to come out on the mat”.
Do you feel like your opponents are afraid of you?
– Afraid? No. But everyone respects me.
And this is the answer from a person who’s opponents refuse to enter the ring…
– They were only refusing to fight me in combat sambo. The level of fighters there is much lower, than in Mixed Martial Arts. And some fighters from other countries, who don’t want to get injured, sometimes quit the competition.
In the old days opponents of Karelin would say to him before the fight: “Just don’t do the “reverse belt”(Have no idea what this means). Do they approach you too?
– Quite often. They ask, that I would hit softer to the head.
How do you react?
– If I see that the opponent is in fact much weaker, I try not to offend him.
What do you mean “not to affend”?
– Not to injure him. When we fight in Russia, sometimes their friends come up, that’s understandable. When I fight in another country some unkown fighter tries to come up to you, and that’s a little suspicious. You’re thinking that he’s trying to trick you. You always have to be suspicious.
Feels like you had a sad experience.
– Last time there was an unpleasant situation with a Korean fighter on the President’s Cup. He trained in our team, we taught him a bit. Before the fight he came up to my coach. Asked that I don’t hit him too hard. But then came out for a fight and started to swing his arms wildly right away – with a clear goal to knock me out. I’m not gonna lie, it was very unpleasant. But still I did not start to hit this Korean very hard. I just made one move, held him down with my hands. Collected the needed amount of points and finished the fight before the time ran out.
Did you get burned in life as well by someone?
– Who doesn’t get burned? At first I had a situation with my manager, who tried to fool me and my brother. Even turned into threats. And recently I parted ways with one of my trainers. As it turned out he was a one of a kind con-artist.
What did he do?
– He lied to young fighters. Took a bigger percentage.
Your very good friend, Mike Tyson, almost beat up his manager, who tried to fool him.
– I didn’t try to beat the manager nor the trainer. I just wanted to cross out these people from my life as soon as possible. The manager also threatened to expel my younger brother from the team. But luckly it wasn’t up to him. My brother won the Russian championship, which automatically insured his seed in the Europian championship.
You mentioned that Aleksander Emelianenko, is the world sambo champion, and that he is far more talented than you are. Do you exagerate?
– Not at all. I’m not a genius athlete, like many people think. My brother has a phenomenal talent. But he lacks in work ethic. That’s why I’m higher in the ratings. My brother keeps going in and out of the top 10.
Do you two spar?
– No. We live in different cities. I live in Stary Oskol, and travel all over the world. Brother settled down in Petersburg. We rarely see each other.
They say Aleksander was even in prison?
– It’s true. They gave him five years, but released him before that. Three and a half years.
He was charged with a robbery?
– There were many episodes. Don’t want to bring up the past.
Is it an accomplishment to lose 3 years and be able to return to the ring?
– No. In his case it’s far from an accomplishment. Even though 3 and a half years really held back his growth as an athlete. And in the social life Aleksander became different. Prison really made its imprint. His outlook on life has changed, and it seems, not in a good way.
You and him are totally different?
– Yes. I’m sure those things could not have hapenned to me. During the time when Aleksander was looking for adventures on his rear end, I killed myself training. I had a goal – to reach something in sport.
If Fedor Emelianenko is very pleasant to speak to, his brother has a scary image. You can’t just come up to him. And even Fedor, who’s related to the man calls him only “Aleksander” In Russian Aleksander is an official name, and you usually wouldn’t call your brother like that. Sasha, or some other nickname is usually used to call someone close.
One time, Emelianenko junior shed the light on his tattoos in an interview, most of which he got as a reminder of places not so far away.
– Every tattoo has a place – he said – On my right arm I have a Church with 5 bells. Each bell is for a year of incarceration. Stars on the shoulders mean that the man lives according to his own principles. Stars on the knees say “I will never kneel”. Another tatto, pirate, stands for article 167 of criminal law – robbery. I have many more tattos on my body: Writing in Latin reads “Luck looks upon the Brave”, and in German “God with us”. Below the elbow – a head, half cat half human skull. It means: A man is a wolf to another man. This phrase is one of my principles. A web on the shoulder. God’s Mother on my back, aphorisms on my feet.
Fedor doesn’t have tattoos at all. And he lives by different principles. A man is not a wolf for him. An opponent in the ring is just an opponent. Nothing more.
Famous hockey fighter, Andrey Nazarov said: “There is no friendship or talking between tough guys. How would I hit him if we’re friends?” Does it apply to you?
– No, it doesn’t. I don’t fight with friends. And if I face a good friend in the ring – it’s a normal fight for me. It’s not a dog fight. I know that boxers are friends on the team, it doesn’t bother to walk out in the ring.
You said that a fight with Tyson would end up with your quick victory – with taking the fight to the ground and submitting him. Where did you get such idea?
– I didn’t say that the fight will end with my quick victory. It seems like journalists tried to spin it that way. The question was: If you ever fought Tyson, which strategy would you choose? I started thinking. Of course, I wouldn’t start getting into exchanging punches, and would like to play it on my turf. Meaning I would take him to the ground, where obviously this is not one of Tyson’s strengths, after which would try to go for submission.
Once you mentioned that weight lifter Yuri Vlasov is one of your idols. But this man is from completely different generation
– So what? I read alot about him. Mindblowing personality.
After President’s Cup you were officially recognized as best Sambo practitioner in Eurasia and gave you a velvet robe knit with a golden thread. Did you have any other unusual gifts in your life?
– There were many, but I don’t think anything of them. For me, the biggest gift is a chance to meet talented people. I can appreciate that.
Who would you especially like to meet?
– Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis. Interesting people. My circle of friends are athletes. Recently I met figure skater Aleksei Tikhonov. Was pleasantly surprised, how shy, intelegint he is.
Where do you keep your championship belts?
– One in Petersburg, the other in Stary Oskol. They’re displayed in sport schools. By the way, we’re planning to open a school in St Petersburg. And later in Belgorod.
You won’t mention anything about your payroll?
– Of course not. Commercial secret. I can say that right now I feel like I’m taken care of. About a year ago I started getting good money. I can even support my family now, and help out relatives. I like to have some backbone, you know?
Your drawings are not too bad. Who do you give your pictures to?
– To my older daughter, that’s all. It’s kind of sad – because I like them as well, and I put alot of effort into them. Accidentaly found an artist talent in myself. Brother asked to sketch something on paper – and it came out beatiful. So that’s how it started. I draw with a pencil, usually during competition. But don’t think that my drawings have anything to do with visual art. It’s just an amateur level.
Drawing is your way to prepare for a fight?
– No; not at all. Before a fight, me and my coaches play cards. Try to create a free atmosphere. Only jokes and laughs.
In all your travels, which places really made an impression on you?
– Louvre, Paris Cathedral. After I started drawing I got interested in painting. Visit museums and Picture Galleries with great delight.
Do you have a dream?
– Yes, to build a house in Stary Oskol with a big gym.
You go around the biggest cities in the world. And still don’t want to leave Stary Oskol?
– Oskol – best city in the universe. Although, it’s not important where to live for me, but with whom and how.
Someone from foreign journalists visited you in Oskol and was shocked to see the might Fedor Emelianenko drive around on old “Zhiguli”
– Let them come again, they’ll see that everything changed. Three years ago, I did ride on a “ten”, but the governor gave me a Toyota Land Cruiser as a gift. Wonderful car. It suits me fine. And actually I’m not too picky when it comes to cars.
You’re 32. How long do you have in the ring?
– I have no idea
Wife doesn’t tell you to finish up with fighting?
– Never. Even though I could have grown tired of all these rings and gyms. I sometimes slept in the gyms. When I worked as a guard before the army.
Which qualities should a woman have, so that she can be with a man like you?
Is sense of fear familiar to you?
– Like every normal person I’m afraid to lose the ones close to me. I don’t have any other fears.
You’re not even afraid of a toothache?
– No. And not afraid of needles either – from time to time I make injections myself (WTF???)
So then, even rollercoasters were made for you?
– I love that stuff! Whenever I get a chance to go outside the country – always go there, to theme parks. Want to go mountain skiing, but can never find time. Too busy.
Do you like soccer?
So so. I just know that Victor Budyanski came out of Stary Oskol. Although we don’t know each other.
Fedor looked at his watch and whispered
– Excuse me, I gotta go. Otherwise I’ll be late for a plane.
Behind the window the noise from Garden circle made Emelianenko to hold his gaze for a second.
– You know, I’m getting used to Moscow. Before I used to get tired of it, and now it’s different. One country I can’t get used to is Japan. You spend a week there and want to get home – to Oskol.
…some closing BS…
Yuri Golyshak Aleksander Kruzhkov Elena Renzhina