OTM Reporter and Voice of MMA EuropeSpenna: How does it feel to have your first interview?
Carl Fisher : Rather strange as I`m the one that`s normally asking the questions (laughs)
When did you first start in Martial arts?
Carl Fisher : Back in 1988, aged 18, after receiving the beating of my life in the local taxi rank, courtesy of 3 meat heads much bigger than I was; two guys pinned me against the wall whilst the other went from top to toe with his fists and feet; I was off work for a week.
What styles have you trained in?
Carl Fisher : I started in Wado Ryu karate, after my mate Jason Fenemore from Bolton took one look at my bruises after the beating and told me to join the karate club where he trained. The teacher was Steven Costello and I trained there for about 4-5 years and got my black belt; however, I was starting to experiment in ju jitsu with Trevor Roberts in Bolton and found I was missing about 50 per cent of the jigsaw, as I was only competent in the striking and blocking aspects of karate. This was before the term cross training was in vogue and I felt that practicing both styles complemented each other; this opinion and attitude was not held by my teacher and both my brother and I were kicked out of the karate club for â€˜political` reasons and I carried on training with Trevor and have been with Trev since `94 and hold a 2nd Dan in Applied Ju Jistu. I`ve never looked back since, really, it was the best thing that happened to me being kicked out of the karate club, as Trevor opened my eyes to a much wider aspect of training, travelling and competing as well pointing out all the cowboy instructors that thrive out there. I`ve dabbled in Thai boxing but I can`t take the shin blocks (laughs) and also train in Sambo with Alan Carlisle, Trevor and Matt Clempner in Manchester, as well as having a go at Judo throughout the years and now I`m bitten by the BJJ bug.
When was the first time you trained in BJJ?
Carl Fisher : Back in `99; I attended a Machado seminar at Andy Norman`s gym in Hull and from that visit I went out to LA a few months later; after travelling all over the place I am now with Gracie Barra UK.
When did you first compete?
Carl Fisher : Way back in 1995, I took Bronze in the UK championships run by Martin Clarke, there were only 3 of us (laughs) John Clarke was in my group, a fucking monster and the guy that won was a World Champion, so I was in good company. We only had 3 weeks notice from Martin, which wasn`t a surprise, but we took a team down and came away with a healthy haul of medals and hangovers. I next competed in 97 at the KSBO which was my first taste of amateur VT; I nearly bottled the event but I`d hired a 57 seater coach with all my mates for support, so I had no choice to fight (laughs) I won two and lost two and my mates screamed the fucking place down and we all had a good day of fighting and drinking. Since then I have entered loads of comps, BJJ, VT SW all over the UK and the SW comps in Finland and Norway, where I have a 0-11 record of which I`m proud of (laughs). They`re a tough bunch out there and many of the guys are State champs in Greco or freestyle; in one comp in Oslo I was belly to back suplexed three times by a guy who was 68K and a State champion, but I scored a takedown on him, so it wasn`t all that bad. I`ve probably lost more matches than I`ve won but at the end of the day it`s all about getting out there and conquering your fears and if you win you win and you lose you lose no big deal.
Tell us about your time in LA?
Carl Fisher : That was after the Machado seminar in 99; I spoke to John Machado after the class and he invited me out to LA to train, so I worked the doors 5 nights a week plus my day job. sold my car, CD`s videos, everything I had and moved out there for four and half months. It was the best thing I ever did and the reason I`m probably here today writing and reporting; it really opened my eyes to what training was all about. I stayed at the infamous Surf City Hostel where every night was Saturday night packed out with fellow BJJ`ers and loads of young girls en route to the Summer Camps â€” heaven. I met Scott Goddard out there and we roomed together and he battered me every day on the mats and Chris Haueter looked after the two of us as well, he taught me a lot. I also trained with Erik Paulson, Jean Jacques came over shortly after winning the ADCC tournament and I got to hang out with the Dog Brothers and Dan Inosanto every day at the morning sessions. One of my best memories was waiting for the gym to open and Dan arrived and he just sat down next to me, passed me a Gatorade and asked me where I was from and talked about the UK guys he knew and the guys that I knew and I`m thinking â€˜fucking hell, this is the bollocks`. Dan the man talking to me, a nobody from Bolton Lancashire, it blew my mind (laughs). I also rolled trained with Ricco Rodriguez when he was a purple belt and black belts Dave Meyer, Bob Bass, Vasconcles and a host of other blues, browns and blacks from all over the place and I also met Todd Hester from Grappling magazine; I also competed there in a Machado comp in the white belt division and lost two but more importantly won one via kimura, that was my first international win (laughs). That trip was a make or break situation for me; I first arrived there on Labour Day, a public holiday, so nothing was open, I had no idea where the academy was and the academy was shut when I got there. It was three days before I got to train and I knew nobody and I found myself on a bench on the beach thinking â€˜what the fuck am I doing out here, all on my own, thousands of miles away from home` and that day I nearly bottled it and came home. I was going to say I got mugged, but then I thought of all the hard work and sacrifices I`d made to get there and saw there were people there much younger than I was, so I carried on and eventually I made it to the academy and John immediately recognized me and made a fuss over me, so I stayed and I knew I`d made the right choice. To anyone out there reading this, if you ever get the chance to train abroad, do it, it will change your life forever and for the better.
You have just got your Blue Belt, how does it feel?
Carl Fisher : It still hasn`t sunk in as I tend to have a low opinion of my talents, probably due to the fact that I`ve rolled with so many top guys in Europe over the years; Mauricao gave me the belt in Jersey the other week, right out of the blue, no pun intended, he asked me where I was training and I said Birmingham and then he said â€˜next time wear a blue belt`. I thought â€˜fucking hell, no way` I was shaking all over and had a daft grin on my face all weekend after that.
You`re well known for your â€˜have gi will travel` approach; how did this come about?
Carl Fisher : There`s not many good places to train Bolton for BJJ or VT, so I used to train in Atherton with Shane Rigby and Darren Morris, but the guys there are too big for me and I was always getting injured; since then I`ve trained with Tom Blackledge, Danny Wallace, Mike Gregory, Karl Tanswell, Alan Carlisle, Matt Clempner, Darren Currie, Darren Good, Les Allen, Gracie Barra all on a regular basis. In the last year I`ve concentrated on Danny and Mike`s classes in the week and Darren Currie and the Gracie guys at the weekend.You`ve rolled with some of the best in the world; who are your favourites?
Carl Fisher : Good question; Remco Pardoel is a fucking steamroller (laughs); all the Machados in the States; Mauricao`s knee ride defies description; too many to list really.
Tell us about your up coming trip?
Carl Fisher : I`m off to Sweden on 15th April to train with Richard Bohlenius at his gym in Stockholm; their chief instructor is also over that month, Marcelo Yogui and we`ll be sharing room at the academy so great timing; I`ll also be training with August Wallen in Gothenburg, Rickard Anderssen and Omar Bouiche in Stockholm and I`ll be out in Turku to train at the Finnfighters Gym. I`ll also be reporting and competing whilst I`m there and I hope to stay there for the summer, where it hits 30-35C all summer.
Why do you like Scandinavia so much?
Carl Fisher : It`s all so clean out there; the UK`s a f*cking dump at the minute, the whole`s society is going down the fucking tubes, it depresses me a lot being here. The guys really look after me out there and the training is second to none, they`re very technical and strong and they make me feel very welcome. I met the main guys at ADCC 2001 and I`ve done a lot of work to promote Scandinavian MMA, so they return the favour whenever I go out there.
Where are the best clubs to train out there?
Carl Fisher : Richard`s place; Rickard`s Hilti academy, he`s a brown belt with Bustamante. Omar`s academy, he`s fucking frightening, trained a lot with Erik Paulson and August Wallen`s a great coach and very technical and fun to train with. Then you have Jon Olav Einemo, Joachim Hansen in Oslo and Marko Leisten`s guys in Finland.
What are your plans when you return to the UK; open a club perhaps?
Carl Fisher : It all depends if I come back really (laughs) I`d like to open a BJJ club but Gracie Barra Bolton doesn`t have a good ring to it does it (laugh).
What motivates you to keep on travelling all over the UK and Europe?
Carl Fisher : The fact that MMA is slowly starting to gather momentum and I want to continue to play a small part in making MMA a mainstream sport and to educate the world about European MMA
Do you think you`ll ever pack it all in?
Carl Fisher : (laughs) I`ve been close many many times believe me; last year I went up my own arse a bit and moaned and moaned as many will testify and I was a pain in the arse for some time, but most of it was because all I wanted to do is report on MMA and make it my full time job. It was very frustrating having to miss many shows through lack of money and bosses not giving me time off. I like to think I`m more chilled out now and what will be will be, but I hope to be in this for many more years to come. I`ve still a lot to offer.
You`ve done a lot of traveling in the last three years; is there anywhere else left you`d like to go?
Carl Fisher : Many places; Brazil for one, now I`m a Barra blue belt. Marcio Feitsoa invited me out there last year and I intend to honour the invitation. Japan is also on my list as is Australia, train with John Donehue and John Will. You only live once so I want to travel as much as possible, before I get too old (laughs).
You have seen a lot of British events over the last couple of years, which fighter`s have caught your eye?
Carl Fisher : Paul Jenkins first and foremost; the guy`s born to fight and is one of the most dedicated fighters out there; he doesn`t give a fuck who he fights and doesn`t hide behind any bullshit, he lays it on the line and walks the walk. Paul Sutherland is a gutsy fighter who is exciting to watch as is Jean Silva and the Schiavo brothers from France. Chris Bacon and Danny Rushton are in a league of their own and Andy Cooper is one of the most under rated fighters in the UK. Ricky Salhan and Danny Batten are always good to watch in the lighter divisions, Lee Murray, Ian Freeman, James Zikic, Scott Goddard, Mark Weir, the list is endless (laughs)
What has been your favourite show?
Carl Fisher : 2H2H without a doubt; I was there when Ian Freeman was fighting and the crowd was 10000 capacity and I`m sat VIP ringside next to Ron Nykvist at one stage and talking with Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros the next and then out on the piss with them all after the event. In the UK I`ve enjoyed all the big shows, XFC, Ultimate Combat, Rings Millennium Brawl, Cagewarriors, Darren Currie`s shows, the lot of them â€” apologies if I have missed any out.
What was it like being at the ADCC 2001 Finals?
Carl Fisher : Awesome, that was the highlight of my life as a writer and one I doubt I`ll surpass. I spent a week out there and all the time I had guys like Renzo, Vitor, Bruce Buffer, Royce and Saulo coming up to me and saying â€˜hey you`re Carl Fisher I read your reports` and that blew me away, it should have been the other way round (laughs) I was walking around in a daze, with all these guys, many my heroes all in the same hotel and I`m chilling out with them in their rooms and watching them fight, it was brilliant.
Any up coming fighters we should look out for?
Carl Fisher : Ryan Hunter for one; the guys going to be huge; all the guys at Team Colleseum, they`re making waves in all the events they enter. The North East have many fighters, such as Terry Mc Dougall and Lee Shone; Mark Chen from Hull and Paul Sutherland keep on maturing as fighters; Cambridge Free fight guys; Ozzy Haluk and his crew from Manchester and many others who`ll I`ll remember after this interview (laughs)
Dougie at Cage warriors has been shaking things up of late, setting the standard with his show and now forming (with the help of many top promoters) an MMA Governing body. What are your thoughts on a Governing body for MMA?
Carl Fisher : About bloody time (laughs) whether or not all the promoters can iron out all the small print remains to be seen, but it`s a step in the right direction. The Body needs to be run along the lines of the Sports Council way of things, but it`s early days yet.
When did you start reporting on MMA?
Carl Fisher : After pestering Cal Cooper at ADCC in 1998 for months; he emailed me and asked me to contribute to the site and I knew nobody in Europe at the time. I had to email all the guys I know today for their results and then in 2000 I went out to Holland for my first gig with Remco Pardoel and the rest is history.
Do you want to comment on the ADCC situation?
Carl Fisher : I felt it was a shitty way to treat me after 3 years loyalty and all by email; Miguel had to follow orders from Guy and the Arab sponsors, it`s not as though they`re short of a few quid, but they`re taking the site in a new direction and I`m not part of it so fuck them, their loss, time to move on.
Any more funny stories you would like to share?
Carl Fisher : I`m sworn to secrecy for most of them (laughs) but I`ll tell you a funny story about my first lesson in LA. Talk about in at the deep end (laughs). I didn`t have a clue what to take with me and I`d never heard of an Atama gi and that bollocks, so I ends up on the mats in my wrestling boots, knee pads, black cycling shorts and a fucking Sambo jacket and black belt for fuck`s sake. I must have looked a proper twat! Everyone just stared at me and looking back there was Rigan, John and JJ there and all the top guys and little old me from Bolton and they must have thought â€˜who the fuck`s this knobhead?`. Well I got through the class and my first roll was with a blue belt Brazilian 95K and he choked me out first roll with a clock choke; I opened my eyes and there`s John and Rigan staring down at me and they said â€˜welcome to LA man` and everyone pissed their sides laughing. I got fucking hammered that night off everyone in the academy, but I stayed til the end of the session and John came over shook my hand, said â€˜you`ve got balls` and kitted me out with a spare gi until I bought one for myself; I didn`t get a tap until six weeks of training twice a day, it was a steep learning curve.
Pepsi or Coca Cola?
Carl Fisher : It has to be Coca Cola; filled with ice and Bacardi
KFC or Mc D`s?
Carl Fisher : Mc D`s; in Bradford on a Sunday afternoon!