John Wayne Parr Exclusive - July 2004John Wayne Parr Exclusive - July 2004

Sunday, June 6, 2004

It is very rare that we would even consider interviewing the same person more than once, let alone three times, yet in John Wayne Parr we feel there's a deserved exception to the rule.

Wayne Parr is an example of how hard work can lead you to realise your dreams, that you don't need to be blessed with loads of money or be managed by your country's K1 representative to get anywhere - old fashioned values, honesty and commitment will get you there.

Tomorrow John Wayne Parr will continue to pursue his dream of being the world's number one middleweight by fighting in the K-1 Max Grand Prix Final. This year's final lineup is the strongest so far of the competition and Wayne took some time out before tomorrow's event to talk to us...

A lot has happened since our last interview after the Kings Birthday 2001. Not soon after you got an offer to go and train and fight in the USA under Master Toddy. Can you tell us how that offer came about?

  • In 2001 I spent the whole year boxing having 9 fights, in that time I was lucky enough to win an Australian title and learn more skills with my hands and how to punch properly. At the end of the year I lost my title to Ian Mcloed, he broke his hand round one and just ran and held me for the next 11 rounds. This sort of turned me off boxing and I wanted to come back to the sport I love. In 2002 I wanted to go overseas and put a message on Ax to see if anyone needed a trainer in America. One of Master Toddy's students Cindy read the email and told Mr Toddy about the message and he rang me direct, a few months later I was there.
Your first fight there was against a Thai called Rodtung? How much did you know about your opponent before fighting him?
  • I saw a tape of him when he fought Dimitri Shakuta fought his and stopped him with body punches. He looked strong and knew it would be a great fight. We had a five round war in a very close fight were I won on points.
Your other fight in the USA was against Baxter Humby. Humby has a name as a decent fighter, but he only has one arm. There was a lot of controversial talk both before and after that fight. Some people felt that a person with one arm shouldn't be in the ring fighting at all. Others spoke out saying what was Australia's best being reduced to fighting someone with one arm. Others felt Baxter was a decent fighter but having seen the fight against you they felt that you were over hyped and over-rated. Please can you talk us through the mental side of that fight, how you feel about those comments and why you took the fight?
  • The Baxter fight was never suppose to happen. I was suppose to fight Changpeuk from Thailand but unfortunately two days before the event he could not get a visa. Dennis Warner tried hard to find me an opponent, we tried Jongsanan but could not agree on a weight and Alex Gong turned down the fight. Dennis said come to New Mexico anyway and we will work out something then. When I arrived Dennis called me into his room and told me had found me an opponent, but would I be willing to fight someone with one arm? At the time I was broke and Angie and I needed the fight because we were living with her parents and needed the prize money to move out. I was told by the owner of Twins to take it easy the first two rounds. Baxter only had one arm but used the ring well and never stayed still making him hard to hit, round three I picked up the pressure and won by TKO. Baxter has his own style and styles make fight, some people didn't enjoy but you cant please everyone all the time.
1st March 2002 holds a special significance in your life for you? What happened that date?
  • That was the date I meet my wife Angela Rivera. I arrived at Master Toddy's on the 20th of February and had seen posters at both his gyms with this little hottie everywhere. I asked one of the girls who the girl was in all the posters and she said "That's Angie, she will be here next week, she is fighting on the same show and you and Rodtung". From the first day we meet we sat and talked for hours and been together ever since. We become training partners, then girl friend/boy friend and are now husband and wife.
Hasn't there been a new addition to the Parr family since then?
  • That would be Jasmine Parr , our 17th month old monkey. She is everything to use and the reason and I doing so well this year. I want to win as many fights as I can so I can give her a good future.
Why did you not stay in America for as long as originally intended?
  • Because I tried my luck and overstayed my visa. The first time I over stayed my visa about 4 months. I fought in France in July and when I came back to America had a stop over in New York and they didn't not check my passport. Angie loved America and I wanted to look after her as much as I could. Tarik rang asking me if I would like to come back to Australia and fight Jenk Behic on the Gold Coast, the money was much needed at the time and it was a chance to come home for a few weeks to visit my gym and see my friends. Everything went well and I won my fight on points. On the way back to America I was stopped in L.A and asked when was the last time I was in America? I told them only three weeks before. They asked how long I had stayed and I told them three months, the Immigration office looked at me telling me I was not allowed to stay three months, only 90 days. From there he counted the days from the time I entered to the time I had left and it worked out to be 92 days. From there I was kept in a hold cell at the airport for 36 hours and was deported on the next plane back to Oz. Angie was pregnant at the time and I was not allowed to see her, Angie ended up having to sell our car and our furniture and make enough money to move to Australia. In the end it has worked out for the better, it's amazing how things happens sometimes.
Your first fight back was against the tough Jenk Behic which you won on points, Behic fights soon on the 16th July in a K1 Oceania superfight against Jordan Tai, how do you see that fight going for Behic?
  • I would have to put my money on Jordan, he has been fighting a lot recently and has been fighting Muay Thai his whole career. I haven't heard of Jenk fighting for a while and Jordan isn't the sort of fighter you want to jump in with after a long break.
Next was the K-1 Oceania Max tournament, with a final fight that had some controversy, your fight with Mike Zambidis. How do you look back now on that fight and the tournament was a whole now?
  • Its in the past, I now I did enough to win that fight and if you watch the fight before the ref raises his hands you can see the expression on Mike face praying for the decision. Richard Walsh and myself ended up fighting in Japan the day before last years K-1 Max final, the next day being invited to sit ringside to watch the action. It was good to see the standard of the fighters first hand and I am happy I can be a part of it this year.
You then fought Goto for the first time under shootfighting rules. Why the change of style? How did it feel fighting under those rules?
  • I was asked by Ray Matsamura if I wanted to fight under shoot boxing and I said why not. At the time I needed a fight and the rules are pretty much the same as Muay Thai but with a few little extra's. I was almost choked out in the first round when we got into the grapple but after that I thought I won over the 5 rounds. I don't know what Goto's problem was that day, I think he was just upset that the scores were so far apart.
Next was a boxing fight against Mike Cope? After having made the decision to return to muaythai, why the boxing fight?
  • My next Muay Thai fight was not until the end of April and I wanted a warm up fight. My best mate Paul Briggs was fighting the main event on the Gold Coast on pay per view and this was also a chance to fight on his under card. Mike has a very good name in Australia and I was expecting a 6 round war, in the first it was pretty even until the last twenty seconds when I hit him with a left hook that knocked him out cold.
After Doi you fought Siko Bika for the Australian boxing title next, was that your hardest boxing fight?
  • No, just a wake up call telling me that I can't do both sports at once at that level. I was only training with Rod twice a week and training and teaching Muay Thai at my gym. The fight started well but after the fourth round my body went into automatic and I started going back to my Muay Thai stance and didn't have the right foot work I had when I was boxing. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.
You then fought Goto again in Japan, was that again under shootfighting rules? How did it feel to beat Japan's own champion there?
  • After the last time we fought I was looking forward to the rematch. I didn't diet properly and was over weigh 6kgs three days before the fight, I didn't eat for two days and we ended up having a same day weigh-in, then I was told there was no elbows. The first two rounds were close but I won 3,4 and 5 easy. End of the fight the judges came to a draw and we were told to fight a extra round, fighting those rules I didn't even know there was such a thing as a extra round. We went at it pretty hard and I thought I did enough to win but once again the judges came to a draw and made us fight a extra round again, by this stage I just looked at Goto to say "Your Joking". With a minute to go Goto threw me over his hip and scored some big points and the fight was his, my only option was to knock him out. I ran in and landed punches non-stop giving Goto a 8 count, I rushed in again and landed another huge combo and the Ref stopped the fight with 15 seconds to go. Very exciting fight.
In your last interview you stated that you wanted to fight in as many countries as possible and get onto the WPKL European circuit, obviously winning tomorrow's K1 Max tournament aside, what are your ambitions now?
  • Just to fight and win as much as I can. I am getting old now and before I retire want to make sure that people will be able to look back and remember that there once was a good fighter from Australia named John Wayne.
Following your second fight against Goto, at last came your European breakthrough in the Superleague. Your first fight against Kamal El Amrani you lost. Some fans expressed a disappointment with the match and your performance, but isn't it true you broke your ankle halfway through that fight?
  • I didn't break my ankle but banged it up pretty badly on his elbow in the second, I had a game plan but once my ankle was gone I had to change everything. My fitness was not the best either for that fight with my last fight 5 months before. But Amrani is a great fighter and looking forward to rematching him one day.
Do you think now that you have a more traditional style from the time that you spent in Thailand as opposed to the faster Western style? Could that style difference account for some of the fans disappointment in your first Western performances in America and Europe, or is it possible that the promotions you have fought on were attended more by general public than real muaythai enthusiasts that appreciate the clinchwork? Would you say that this is true for a lot of Australia's style of fighting that it is very similar to Thailand's original style?
  • I am lucky that I stayed in Thailand so long and learnt there style but at the same time I think because I was there so long that I forgot my hands. I went to boxing for the year in 2001 and now that I am back I think I have got both styles working together nicely. I am getting older now also and now I am starting to slow down a little but at the same time I believe I am hitting harder and I am picking my shots better.
Why haven't you fought on the Kings Birthday since 2001?
  • I am happy to have fought on so many Kings birthdays and nothing compares but I need to fight to support my family now. I am getting great offers from promoters overseas and would be crazy to turn down the money they are offering.
Have you ever fought at Lumpinee Stadium?
  • Three times, the first two I won by Ko and lost the third to Nuangtrakan. In 1997 I was ranked 4th at Lumpinee at 147 pounds.
Following your Superleague debut you returned to Thailand to fight in Songchai's S1 tournament held on 4th March to celebrate his birthday. Did you renew your training with Sangtien Noi before that fight?
  • I went to Thailand three weeks before the S-1 to get as strong as I could. Sangtien's camp is famous for there fitness and just what I needed after my lose to Amrani.
Your first S1 bout was against Mohammed Asalan, can you tell us a bit about him and that fight?
  • First fight was very close, Mohammed is a very strong opponent and 188cm tall making it hard to get on the inside. I think in a few more years Mohammed will be well known around the world.
Next you went up against possibly the greatest European name currently fighting, Jean-Charles Skarbowski? How did it feel to be facing another legendary name with a similar history to your own?
  • I didn't think I would meet Skarbowsky, We fought Suriya first and I thought the Thai would win for sure. In the Second round Jean put the Thai down for a 8 count and the Thai never recovered after that. After that I thought to myself that this changes everything and I might be able to win this after all. When we fought we felt each other out for the first minute before we stood toe to toe trading punches with Skarbowsky coming off second best, I chased him around the ring landing many right hands almost stopping him. Round two Jean came back and we had a pretty even round. Round three it was all or nothing and once again we stood and traded punches, I three a big right landing on the bridge of his nose putting down for the count giving me the win. I take my hat off to Jean though, he came up from 63kg to fight in a 72kg tournament when he didn't have to give away so much weight, that takes a lot of balls.
In the final you faced Neungtrakarn. Neungtrakarn had been criticised a little in Europe last year following several defeats to Europeans but now it would appear he may be coming back on form, how did this fight with Neungtrakarn compare to your 3 previous encounters?
  • Everytime we fought it was always close and I wanted nothing more then to fight him again top prove that I could beat him, as fate had it we would meet for a forth time and this time I had his number. Nuang didn't have much time to rest after his semi final fight so I knew I had the advantage. I took the fight to him from the first round and just wore him down, by the forth round Nuang had nothing left giving me the fight. One of my greatest achievements in my career.
What do you think of the S1 promotion as a whole?
  • I think it's great that Thailand has this type of event and have the best fighters in the world competing in it. Being a Thai boxer the biggest award is to win a World title in the home of Muay Thai, plus the chance to win one Million baht is so much money in Thai currency, you know how many "Cow Pads" you can buy with that?
Your next Superleague fight was against Fadi Merza on 20th March. Nearly straight after that you fought Duane Ludwig on April 7th in your K-1 Max qualifier fight Don't you think it was a bit risky fighting in the S1, the Superleague and the K-1 Max with only 3 weeks between them?
  • S-1 was on the 4th, Super League was on the 20th and K-1 Max was on the 7th of April. It was a little risky but just the chance to fight on one of these promotions is a honour let alone all three. I didn't know about K-1 max until after my Super League fight when I rang Angie to tell her the results, she said K-1 had been in touch and wanted to know if I wanted to fight. I am just lucky that I am fit and heal fast.
Ludwig's camp have since claimed it would be a different fight if they had worn the same gloves, even though they were heavier at the weigh in, would you like a rematch?
  • I would love a rematch. I think it's crazy being a fighter at this level to weigh in two and a half kilo's heavy. Sven his trainer tried to make an excuse about not being there for the weigh in but Duane is not a ten year old kid and shouldn't need someone there to hold his hand. I like Duane, it's a shame things worked out the way they did. A rematch would be good to clear things up and to prover it wasn't a fluke.
Your last fight on the 22nd May this year was against Gregory Swerts of Belgium, can you talk us through that fight please?
  • This was one of my better fights in a long time, my best mate from Thailand has come over to help me prepare for the K-1 and helped me get some of my old tricks back. Round one was even, round two I started putting the pressure on a little more. End of round three I landed a straight right putting Chiko down for a eight count before he was saved by the bell. Start of round four I landed a left body kick putting Chico down again for another eight count, Chico came back hard to make up for lost points but my defence was good and I blocked and countered. Just before the end of the round I hurt Chico with a right hook, Chico came into grapple and I seen there was a slight gap, I came over the top and landed six clean hooks to win the fight by KO.
Okay now on to the real talk of the month, tomorrow's K-1 Max finals. This years tournament looks like the best so far, but do you feel that K-1 have made the draw as hard a possible for you to protect their home crowd favourite Masato? Do you think they made it hard for you putting you against Ludwig in a qualifier also?
  • I don't think so, every fighter this year has a chance. All the guys are the best in there country and as they say anything can happen on the night. Masato has a very hard first fight so the K-1 promoters aren't doing him any favours either. I have a hard first fight against Buakow but at the same time I am lucky that I have fought almost thirty Thai's in the past so I know there style. Second fight will be a rematch with either Kohi or Zambidis, I am happy to fight either. The final could go any which way but to pick a favourite either Masato or Kraus. I would love to fight Masato in the final just to get the respect of the world and making it a genuine world title.
What do you think of Skarbowski's foray into the K1 arena, don't you think he is too light for it?
  • I think he is a great fighter but he is a little small for K-1 max.
Step by step can we quickly go through your opponents and your thoughts on each of this year's final competitors - You face Buakaw Por.Puramuk first. Baring in mind that he is unlikely to read this by tomorrow, what do you think of your opponent and what's your game plan?
  • I am just going to go hard and give it all I have. I have been working defence and feel strong so just have to wait and see if luck is on my side. I also have a advantage with the K-1 max gloves being so small, one punch could finish it for any of the fighters.
As for the other tournament entries - what do you think of Takayuki Kohiruimaki?
  • Kohi has improved so much since we fought in 1998. His knees and grapple is strong and his confidence is right up at the moment. Same as the other, just go hard and see what happens.
Zambidis current form?
  • I think old Zambo isn't looking as good as he has in the past. He had a great fight with Gurkan but I think that might have taken a bit out of him. His last few K-1 fights have looked a little average I think but at the same time he is always dangerous so I wont be taking him lightly.
The least known fighter in the tournament - Jadamba Narantungalag?
  • Tough, big heart and very unorthodox. He proved in his fight with Kraus that he has what it takes to cause a upset.
Albert Kraus?
  • Great hands, walk up fighter, big heart also. Hard fight for any of the boys.
Shamil Gaidarbekov?
  • Once again good boxer and good leg kicks. I only seen his last K-1 fight but could be a dark horse. Has a hard fight with Kraus first though.
And finally the hot favourite for the final from the other bracket - Masato?
  • Great all round skills and the and hero of Japan. This is the fight I want out of all the fighters, one is because he is last years champion but also a win over masato will automatically make you a house hold name in Japan with many fights for the K-1 in the future.
From all your different experiences in the muaythai world, is there a message you would like to pass on to those fighting out there?
  • What can I say. Just enjoy your training, there is no short cuts when you fight so your only cheating your self. Another thing is try not to show your opponent you are hurt during a fight, there will be plenty of time to look after your self when the fight is over.
Is there anything in particular you would like to say in closing?
  • Thank you Dan for the interview and thanks to everybody from all the different forums around the world for your support, it really does mean a lot.