Every month, Muay Thai is Life designates a fighter from the Muay Thai scene worldwide as our “Featured Fighter of the Month.” Said fighter will grace the landing page of our Official Muay Thai is Life Facebook page, while we will also feature an interview with said fighter here on our official website. Our last two fighters have been from across the pond, including this month’s talented nakmuay, Andy Howson. Andy has fought against top talent from around the world including Thailand, Holland, UK, and the US. Andy took the time to sit down with Muay Thai is Life and tell us a little about his career and what he has planned for the remainder of the year and on into 2012.
MTL: Andy, thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Muay Thai is Life, for our American readers that may not be familiar with your fighting career, tell us about where you train, how many fights you have, and what titles you currently hold
Andy: Hey, its no problem, thank you for the chance of the interview. My name is Andy “Punisher” Howson I’m 32 years old and I train out of Richard Smith’s Badcompany Gym here in Leeds, UK. I have had 57 fights 49 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw with 22 by way of KO or stoppage and I am the WMC (MAD) World Champion, ISKA World Champion, ICO World Champion, WMC Intercontinental Champion, WPKL Intercontinental Champion and the WAKO PRO European Champion.
MTL: A lot of people don’t know but world champion fighter and your Bad Company gym teammate, Liam Harrison, is your cousin correct? You guys have been training together for quite a while, so I wanted to ask, who started training in Muay Thai first? And talk to us a little bit about how you guys ended up training together at Bad Company
Andy: Yeah that’s right, Liam is my younger cousin of 6 years and we have been training together at Bad Company under the guidance of Richard Smith for almost 13 years now (Ouch! Bet he’s going to feel old now when he reads this, lol)
Well basically I found out about the gym through one of the guys I used to work with (Desmond Claxton). He was training to go into the Marines and was training at Badco (Bad Company) around 3-4 days a week for help with his strength and conditioning, he ended up deciding to fight and asked if I wanted to go along and watch and support him, I went along and loved it and the following week I went down to training with him and that was it, I was hooked. A lot of people don’t know this but Liam was playing Football (Soccer to you guys =) lol) at a pretty high level all through school but I asked if he wanted to come down and watch me training 1 night and he too loved it and was training with me just 2 days later and look what’s happened from there…we’ve created a monster! :D.
MTL: Aside from yourself and Liam, Bad Company Gym is home to a few other big name fighters such as Jordan Watson, James France, and Rich Cadden to name a few. In your opinion, why has Bad Company had so much success in building top quality fighters? What’s the gyms secret? Also, what is it like training with so many top level fighters?
Andy: Well to be honest with you, I really don’t believe there is any secret to it, it’s all down to individual hard work from each of us and a desire to be a success and be champions and fight the best. And obviously Richard has a lot to do with that, in fact he is key to myself, Liam’s and the gyms success full stop. I can’t lie, I have totally taken him for granted in the past but he truly is an amazing coach, not 1 class at the gym is ever the same and he is always coming up with new tricks, etc… even after over 20 years in the game. It’s no wonder though to be honest because you don’t go away to Thailand as much as he has and not learn a hell of a lot you know? And his wife Lisa also let me in on a little secret a few weeks back too. She’s been catching him watching fights on Youtube and rewinding certain bits and slowing them down, etc and modifying them and things like that. Now I’m going to guess there’s not many coaches out there that go through that just to bring something new into the gym, but the simple fact is he really loves the sport. I think another good quality about our gym Badco, is that no 2 fighters are the same or have the same style, me I like to have a war, I have no idea why cause I can be technical when I need or want to be, but I just love to get involved and give the crowd some excitement, Liam is known for his knockout power mostly in his left hook as everyone knows and loves to kick legs but honestly he is 1 of the most technical fighters I have ever sparred with, Jordan is just so slick and has amazing balance and is an awesome kicker. I think that’s a great quality about Richard, he doesn’t try to change our styles, just works at it and molds it and brings them all together as a package.
MTL: So you recently decided to come back to Muay Thai after retiring from the sport for a while. What prompted the decision to come back?
Photo by Marty Rockatansky
Andy: Yeah, I’m making a come back already after been retired for like 3 months, lol. To be honest with you I had kind of fallen out of love with the sport a bit in the last couple of years and it had/has shown in my last like 5 fights, I wasn’t taking training seriously, wasn’t dieting right so struggling at times to cut the weight which effected me in a few of my fights. I don’t know what it was but I was working full time again and was finding it hard to juggle work and training every night, and training hard to fight at the level I fight at was killing me, I was exhausted and I put it down to just getting older if I’m honest with you. I decided after my last fight that would be it, but then 3 days after that last fight and announcing I was finished I was made redundant (layoff) from my job which was a massive shock to me and made me have to rethink a few things, and in the mean time I was busy in the gym working pads with some of the guys and going to a few shows and it just ignited that flame again. I just had to come back, and I’m so glad I did, Cause I have a few bits of unfinished business I have to sort out before I can retire a happy man.
MTL: Now, we recently saw you in Liam Harrison’s corner at the Warriors Cup XII event in New Jersey where Liam faced off with Justin Greskiewicz. Rumor has it that you have been in talks with Weapons 9 promoter Christian Tran about fighting at the next Warriors Cup in December. What can you tell us about that? Are you ready to come back to fight in the United States?
Andy: Yeah that’s right you saw me in the corner mostly jumping around and making a fool of myself, I get way too excited in the corner when it’s for Liam, ha ha it’s a bit harder with us being family, he says the same too.
But yes I was asked by Christian if I would like to fight on the next show he has in December and jumped at the chance, I’m really looking forward to it as we where treated so well when I came over with Liam. Christian is a great guy as is all his team and gym so I’m really excited about it. I have no idea who I may be fighting as of yet but that is all to be sorted out with Richard but he is currently away in Thailand and not due back for another week or so, but I’m sure Christian and he will be talking and arranging things soon so I will keep you posted.
MTL: Speaking of fighting in the United States, your U.S. debut was at the Muay Thai in America card in California when you lost a very controversial split decision to Romie Adanza. Are you looking to get back in the ring with Romie anytime soon?
Andy: I’ve been looking to get in the ring with Romie since the decision was given that night! I’m a fair guy and I have had more than enough fights to know when I have won or lost a fight, and I think I can safely say I am a very sporting guy inside the ring as most people who have seen me fight will know, but when a decision is SO bad like that? Well I want, need, and have to have revenge for that! And to be fair I fought Romie at a lower weight than I have ever fought before. I came in at 117lbs when I’m normally a 124-127lbs fighter, and I had gone 5 rounds only 6 days before against Dean James and was banged up. I body kicked and long kneed my way to what I (and John Wayne Parr, who was in my corner for the fight) thought was a more than comfortable points win, but it wasn’t to be. It’s no reflection on Romie or his team, Romie is a great guy and we got on really well and shared a few beers the next day, but to say I was and still am gutted about the decision is an understatement. But fingers crossed I have something hopefully in the pipeline to be over there in LA for the rematch in January and I wont have fought 6 days before and be banged up so it’s going to be a totally different story.
MTL: So coming from the strong Muay Thai scene in the UK and having attended a few shows here in the U.S., what is your opinion on the growth of Muay Thai in the United States? What do you thing about the level of the fighters currently coming out of the U.S.?
Andy: Well to be honest, I have only been to the 2 shows over there and what with fighting on one and having a fighter on the other, I didn’t really get to see much of the fights. However, from what I have seen and having trained with some guys myself, things over there are really picking up and it’s a great sign for the U.S. Muay Thai scene. Obviously you’ve got Kevin Ross who’s doing his thing and seems to be improving with every fight but there was also a few of the younger fighters on the last show that impressed me, and a few of the boys who fought on MTIA with me such as Nat McIntyre and Andy Kapel, both fought really well. Poor Nat drew the short straw fighting Neungsiam but showed how tough he was and stuck in there for the 5 rounds, and Andy is just a strong strong guy! But things are looking good, from the standard of a couple of the guys at Bryan Doblers gym in LA where I trained there is some talent coming through there and also at Christians gym in New Jersey.
MTL: So aside from the possibility of fighting in the U.S. in December, do you have any other fights lined up before then? What can we expect from you in the remainder of this year and in 2012?
Andy: Well I am hoping to fight in October if I can get the chance, would be nice to have a warm up fight to shake off the ring rust before heading over to fight for you guys, then also fingers crossed I have the Romie rematch in Jan, I dont know if you guys over there know but myself and Liam with 1 of our best friends Clint are now also promoting shows and will be having our 3rd HGH promtions event in Febuary next year so I think I’m going to jump on in and fight on that too. Then, I don’t know, to be honest I have had people ask me about possible fights in April and May also but like I say that all depends on Richard and to be honest on how the fights before that go. I didn’t retire for no reason the first time around, lol.
MTL: Andy, once again, we really appreciate you stopping by to speak with us here at Muay Thai is Life. We wish you nothing but luck as you step back into the sport and hope to see you compete in the U.S. again very soon!
Andy: No problem, thank you so much for the interview and I look forward to speaking to you soon and fighting over in the states real soon. Take care.