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K1 fighter Sam Greco “I never took a back step on anyone.”

"My biggest achievement to date was taking on all the best fighters in the K1 world. Fighters that I would only read about and thought one day I will get to fight them. I never took a back step on anyone."

Fighting Lifestyle UAE had the pleasure of catching up with Sam Greco to discuss his career highs, lows and what the future holds. Sam Greco is a martial artist who fought in in many organisation such as the K1. Sam’s professional career has spanned over 10yrs, where he fought some of the top opponents such as; Ernesto Hoost, Mirko CroCop and the current UFC middleweight challenger Loyoto Machida.

Prior to your fighting career taking you around the world you signed a professional soccer career for the Australian premier league team Brunswick Juventus. What made you choose a fighting career over a soccer career?

“To a long story short… At the age of 16 and playing for Juventus seniors I had contractual issues and unfortunately I didn’t have the funds to fight against the club therefore I chose to leave and enter the world of martial arts, which is really what my parents wanted given that I was a rebel as a youngster. My father and karate shared the basic foundation of self-discipline and self control and this was the key reason he wanted me to get into martial arts.”

Your debut in K1 was in 1994 with your first K1 World Grand Prix tournament in 1995, you fought and beat some of the top fighters during your career, what would you say was your biggest achievement?

“My biggest achievement to date was taking on all the best fighters in the K1 world. Fighters that I would only read about and thought one day I will get to fight them. I never took a back step on anyone. I knew that I had to fight the best to be the best and that’s exactly what I did. I’m proud to know that I took on the elite of the sport and won and some times lost but always took something away from the fight.

My overall fight record stands ( full contact karate, kickboxing, K1 & MMA)

147 fights overall. I very proud of my achievement…”

From a fighters point of view, how did you find K1 as an organization?

“K1 was an awesome organisations run by the who’s who! They definitely looked after their fighters in many more ways than one and I was very fortunate. Unfortunately all good things come to an end…that was sad to see!”

Japanese audiences are renowned for being quiet during the fights, how did you find the lack of emotion from the fans?

“Living in and out of Japan for about 20 years you pretty much get used to their ways and how they react to things. I simply always found a way to get them to be vocal while in the ring and out. I love Japan and it’s people. It was and still is my second home.”

What would you say your lowest point of your career was?

“Lowest point of my career was losing my K1 brother ANDY HUG who I shared many many years of training and living together in Japan. This definitely left a void in my heart, my career and the martial arts world.”

After retiring from professional competition in 2005 you worked with many fighters, including Bob Sapp. What was the experience of working with such a big character like Bob?

“Well Bob Sapp is a massive unit. When I first met Bob at WCW in Atlanta Georgia he was close to 180kg of solid muscle. Absolutely ridiculous!!!! Bob and I formed an amazing friendship, which later saw Bob follow me back to K1 when WCW folded and was taken over by WWE. He hated violence and wasn’t keen on fighting… I had several discussions with him and finally got his head around that he would be a great asset to K1, which the organisation agreed. I trained Bob for many years and he was an absolute hand full. We had our ups and downs. He was very strong but lacked heart at times. His best performance was when we trained for the All Japan Kickboxing Grand Prix. We had 10 weeks to prepare and must say it was the best condition he’d ever been in. He had 3 fights in one day and disposed of them all taking out the title. He was fit, strong mentally and physically and was hungry for it. One thing I can say is that if Bob trained as he did for that event for all, he would of been extremely hard to beat. Bob made his mark in K1 because he was very charismatic, larger than life and had the gift of the gab. He went from zero to hero in a very short time. Good on him!!!”

You recently visited Dubai, did you get a chance to train during your visit and if so, where?

“Dubai was awesome…and yes I did get a chance to train. I was fortunate enough to workout at the HM FITNESS CENTRE. My buddy and owner there Tam Khan welcome me with open arms. I also got a chance to share the floor with good friends and champion GOKHAN SAKI and his trainer MIKE PASSENIER. Tam has done a remarkable job there. It would be my home to train there every time I go back.”

How would you compare the standard of fighters coming out of the Middle East to the rest of the world?

“One thing I can say is that they are progressing in leaps and bounds and are a force to be reckoned with. Their knowledge is growing daily. They are producing some great talent in comparison to the rest of the world.”

There is a lot of information relating to the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in martial arts. What is your opinion on this?

“I’m quite open to this discussion. The truth is there will always be drugs in sports, no matter which way you look at it. At professional levels where there’s a lot of money at stake and athletes need an edge, science can only do so much. When we say Performance enhancing drugs we need to determine what these are? Does a drug that helps you recover or repair fall into this category? Or does a drug that increases strength, endurance & size fall into this category? As far as I’m concerned, we as athletes put our bodies under extreme pressures on a daily basis. I think we are entitled to seek supplements to help us repair and recover in order to get back in action sooner rather than later. I disagree to testosterone based supplements where athletes are jacked and are visibly bigger and stronger.

Peptides are the new thing amongst athletes of all sports around the world these days.”

Along with a professional fighting career in K1, Pro Wrestling and MMA, you have also had an acting career and starred in a number of movies. What lays a head for you in the future?

“Yes I have been fortunate enough to have been in movies, numerous TV series and commercials since 1994. My look has always put me in for the bad guy which I don’t really mind as I think I pull it off pretty well. They always say if your going to be bad be good at it! That’s me!!!!!

As for future work we have a couple of projects in the pipelines including action comedy stuff also. I love acting as it gives me a different perspective of entertainment.”