By Jenypher Lanthier
Matt “Matics” Embree is a well known Canadian fighter fighting out of Siam No.1 in Toronto Canada. Matt began training at seventeen years old and is fast becoming a major contender in the 140 lb category. In 2007 Matt won a Gold medal at the IFMA World Amateur Muay Thai Championships and the following year he won the 2008 WKA North American Amateur Muay Thai Championship for the 125lb weight class. He continued to steam roll through 2008 by travelling to Thailand and winning the Northern Thailand Championship in the 125lb category. In 2010 he returned back to Thailand to again win the Northern Thailand Champion for a second time at the same weight. Embree has worked tirelessly perfecting his game and waiting for the next opportunity to take one step closer to his goal of being the best of the best. One of those days came on the world stage in 2011 when he won the prestigious North American WMC Championship title and rounded out 2012 by winning the North American WBC Championship title.
Allow me to introduce to you Matt “Matics” Embree.
JL: Thank you Matt for meeting with me for this interview and taking time out of your busy schedule.
Matt: Thank you, happy to be here.
JL: Matt you have a huge fight coming up on March 2nd for Push Kick Promotions. You were originally supposed to fight Matee Jedeepitak and that has changed. Can you tell us who you are fighting now?
Matt: Yea I am fighting a guy named Ben Yelle. I am kinda disappointed. I was looking forward to the fight with Matee Jedeepitak. Obviously he is very reputable opponent but it is what it is. I will fight. I am glad that he (Ben) took the fight on short notice. I am just happy to get to fight at least.
JL: Absolutely. Before we get into more questions about the fight. I want to let our readers get to know you a little bit. Tell me about your first ring experience.
Matt: (smiles) Well, as soon as I came to the gym from the get go I always wanted to fight. First day I told them I am ready to fight whenever you guys want. They said ok well take your time, get to know the technique and everything. So about six months in Ajahn Suchart came to me and said Matty we have a fight for you. I was like awesome let’s do it. I was excited but obviously you have the nerves of your first fight. I had all my friends there to watch me and a big crowd too so that added to the pressure a bit but it was good. I enjoyed it and loved it, and I got mad tired (laughs).
JL: What made you want to continue from that experience, for everyone it is something different right?
Matt: For me, I set out with a goal in the beginning, I wanted to be one of the best. So from there the first fight was just the beginning. I ended up having a fight the week after and I won that fight. I just kept having fights back to back to back. So it was just progressive and I just wanted to keep going, you know?
JL: What year did you start training?
Matt: I think it was 2006 so I was seventeen.
JL: Wow, that is young. You became successful relatively quickly so how did you handle that?
Matt: Yea to me fighting wasn’t very new you know. I always loved fighting. Been in a few fights in the streets before when I was growing up in school and stuff. Me personally I have always been very dedicated to what I do, I have always done sports growing up and stuff like that. The discipline and dedication that came behind it just came naturally to me. With a goal in mind it was very easy to deal with.
JL: You have trained extensively in Thailand. What are some of the differences between training in North America vs Thailand?
Matt: The big difference is obviously the level of the fighters over there. It is all fighters. You don’t have to train with anyone but fighters pretty much. The energy is different. Everybody you are with is training for a fight, they are preparing for fights so the intensity is high. The trainers know that you are going to fight and so your level is constantly improving because you are submerged in it. Whereas here not everybody wants to fight and other things can become a distraction like work and school and stuff like that so it is rare that you get someone that just completely dedicates their life to fighting. There are a few of us here luckily, which is good but it’s hard to always have training partners that are consistent or at the same level as you or better.
JL: You train out a camp that is very successful Siam No.1, which has produced world level fighters. What do you think the secret is to that?
Matt: First and foremost hard work. (laughs) We work hard here that’s the philosophy. Ajahn always says Muay thai will not reduce its for you, you have to bring your level up for Muay Thai. That is a big part of it. Everyone trains hard here. Ajahn Suchart is a very confident man. He does not doubt his fighter’s one bit. He doesn’t baby nobody. He makes sure people get hard fights. He won’t give you fights that are easy, he will put you up against a guy more experienced than you. He makes sure that he does it the Thai way, you work your way up and you fight hard and train hard. He throws you in the deep end early and you learn to swim.
JL: You sink or swim, and you guys swim which is awesome. What is your overall philosophy for training?
Matt: Discipline, dedication, determination are the big key factors to it. You have to be very disciplined with your training, with your eating, and with everything. Dedicated to what you do. And you have to be determined, you have to have that goal and that is what carries me pretty much.
JL: Who do you want to fight next if you could choose?
Matt: To be honest it doesn’t really matter to me I would just like to fight the best guys. I hope to go back to Thailand and hopefully compete with some of the champions over there. That has always been the goal; To compete with the best of the best in Thailand. So all the Thai guys are basically who I want to be fighting against.
JL: There are a couple of non-Thai fighters that people have been pushing your way. There have been questions about Kevin Ross and Damian Alamos.
Matt: Yea for the Kevin Ross fight, I am pretty sure that one is happening in May if all goes well. I hope it happens. For Damian Alamos, a couple people here have asked me about it. Sure I’d love to fight him too. I’d like to fight all the best guys and I think it would be a good match up. Kevin is a very good fighter too and I respect him a lot and he has fought with the best too. I think it is good that the guys over in North America, the best of the best over here will fight each other too.
JL: Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
Matt: Technically and obviously, Lerdsila was the most skilled opponent I faced. I had a lot of difficulty dealing with him. But the hardest fight I’ve had, would probably just be a fight in Thailand, I can’t even remember the guys name. I had a pretty tough fight in Cambodia too. I don’t remember either of the guy’s names but I remember I got cut and I was bleeding out the nose and it was a scrap. We were going from round one to round five. Yeah, it was just physically exhausting, you know when you body is pushing to the limits and you are not worried about much besides breathing. So yeah those are the real wars that I remember especially.
JL: So going back to Ben, your next opponent, a little more of American style Muay thai. Recently you fought Nathan Smandych who uses more boxing and moves a bit more, how do you deal with those styles?
Matt: Use my strengths against their weakness I mean clearly they don’t fight with elbows and knees as much so I look at it as a disadvantage for them, pretty much so i’ts not that much to deal with.
JL: What is your relationship with your trainer Ajahn Suchart like?
Matt: Everything here with Ajahn is like a family. Ajahn is one of a kind. I have never really met too many people that are like that, so giving. He gives everything of himself and he doesn’t expect much in return at all. All he wants is for his fighters to be successful and to train hard. You can’t ask for much more than that and so we try and give it to him. We eat together, he trains us, jokes around and everything. It is like a family here and he is down for us 100% whatever it is, he backs us 100%. If we have problems or anything, he is there for us.
JL: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and good luckon Saturday night.
ME: Thank you, Sawadeekhup.
A special thank you goes out to Kru Steven Lee of Redemption Muay Thai for the photos and Matt Embree for giving up his time for me.
Photo credits: Steven Lee.