MTBUK Interview – UK No. 1 @ 79kg – Juan Cervantes interview
Recently MTBUK had chance to have a catch up with Juan Cervantes. I train with Juan down at Northern Kings in Newcastle. He is number one in the UK at 79kg. After the interview I will post a video of one of his fights so you can see him in action. Juan is one of these lucky souls to be blessed with good genetics. The guy is the epitome athleticism. Less of me babbling, here we go…
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Juan Cervantes!!
MTBUK: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where’s home? Where do you train? Who trains you etc.
Juan: “I’m a proud adopted Geordie of Mexican descent! My dad is Mexican but settled down in England with my mother. I was actually born in Mexico City but my parents moved back to England when I was about 6 months old.
I’m now happily settled in Newcastle. I train at Northern Kings Gym under Craig Jose. He has trained me from scratch right from when I was at Newcastle University.”
MTBUK: First and foremost, what got you in to Muay Thai?
Juan: “I remember when I was 21 I watched Ong Bak and thought Muay Thai looked pretty cool. The same week I stumbled across the Contender Asia on ITV which sparked more interest. Newcastle University happened to have a Thai Boxing club under Craig Jose. I jumped in and immediately caught the bug.”
MTBUK: How many fights have you had now? What’s your fight record?
Juan: “I’ve now had 26 fights. 19 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw”
MTBUK: Have you ever tried any other combat sports?
Juan: “I trained BJJ for about 18 months a few years back and really enjoyed it. I fancied the idea of maybe competing in MMA some point, but my Thai Boxing started to really take off competitively and I realized that was where my heart really was.”
MTBUK: Is there someone or something that motivates you?
Juan: “The fear of being a 40-year-old man reminiscing with regrets and thinking ‘what if?’. Right now I have goals of becoming a world champion and undisputed number 1 at my weight, but as long as I know later in life I gave it my all when I could and reached my full potential, I’ll be happy.”
MTBUK: To the people who want to be able to get into Muay Thai, do you have any tips or words of wisdom?
Juan: “Leave your ego at the door and focused on the technique in relaxed manner. Don’t be like I was, immediately trying and hit everything as hard and fast as you can, thinking you’re the bees knees because you’ve been doing beach weights all summer. You’ll progress a lot faster”
MTBUK: What would you do if Muay Thai wasn’t apart of your life?
Juan: “I’d probably be doing a job I hate living for weekends I can never remember.”
MTBUK: Is it difficult to juggle training and coaching?
Juan: “Not as long as you prioritize your time effectively during fight camp. There are slots when I’m training, and slots where I’m coaching. Sometimes in classes I’m teaching I can jump in and train a bit as well, but generally when I’m training I’m training and don’t let anyone else distract me (unless its my coach)”
MTBUK: Is your nutrition generally on point or do you have a specific plan when you have a fight coming up?
Juan: “I generally eat good healthy meals all the time. Outside of fight camp I’m guilty of snacking a lot on crap around my meals. Cutting out all the obvious crap is usually all I have to do to get near fight weight. I also get my supplements sorted when I’m cutting weight, which I don’t bother too much with when I’m not training for a fight.”
MTBUK: Who has been your toughest opponent?
Juan: “Filip Kulawinski from Bad Company. I swear you could run that guy over with a truck and he’d still bounce back at re-arrange your face with elbows.”
MTBUK: Do you feel Muay Thai is growing?
Juan: “Definitely! We now have huge shows in the UK such as Yokkao, Muay Thai Grand Prix and the Main Event providing an amazing platform and exposure for fighters, as well as amazing entertainment for the fans. I imagine it will only continue to get more and more popular. Additionally, when you look at some of the teenage kids that are coming through now, it’s exciting to think what the standard will be like in 10-15 years time. I doubt by then you’ll be able to take the sport up as an adult and reach the level I’ve got to today, or at least it will be a hell of a lot harder!”
MTBUK: When did you know this what was what you wanted to be doing?
Juan: “Deep down I think it was even before my first fight, but I tried to be realistic as it seemed like a pipe dream. When it really came to reality was when I left university in summer 2013. Like many post-graduates I struggled to find a job with my degree. I ended up doing more bits and bobs in the gym as an assistant coach and job-hunted less and less.”
MTBUK: Have you ever got to the point where you have thought, ‘this isn’t for me anymore.’ And thought about ‘throwing in the towel’ as it were.
Juan: “In my 6th fight I got knocked out cold, which wasn’t very nice, not to mention the humiliation I felt. Also my last loss in the UK I got caught cold and stopped in the first round. There’s also been a few occasions a while ago when bigger, more experienced sparring partners have taken liberties on me. I can remember going home after and seriously questioning whether I really had it in me to go any further. Looking back these experiences were probably an important part of y development. I’m always very confident when I’m about to step into the ring, but previous experience has taught me to never forget how vulnerable you are if you get complacent.”
MTBUK: If you could sum your style up on one word, what would it be?
Juan: “I grind people down with a high work rate and make my opponents not want to be in the ring anymore. Not one for the Muay Thai purists. I’m good at beating up people who are better Thai Boxers than me.”
MTBUK: Have you achieved everything you want to in the sport?
Juan: “I’m not sure I ever will. There’ll always be something more to achieve and strive for until I realize it’s time to hang up the gloves.”
MTBUK: Have you ever training or fought in Thailand? How much does it differ to training at home?
Juan: “I trained at Sitsongpeenong in Bangkok for 2 months last summer. It’s just another level there. You can train twice a day for 2-3 hours as you don’t have anything else to stress over like you do in your everyday life back at home. The frequency of top quality training is something I can’t get in England. For instance, my coach is an amazing pad man, but can’t hold pads for me every single day. Over there you get 4-6 rounds of pads every session twice a day with quality trainers, as well as daily clinch training and sparring with some of the best in the world. I’d love to go back this year but I can’t. Hopefully next year!”
MTBUK: Tell me a quote that rings true with you from an inspiration of yours.
Juan: “‘If you want to get to the top, just keep winning’. It’s what my coach Craig Jose told me once when I was asking if I was ready to start looking for sponsorship deals and worrying about how to promote myself more. It hit the nail on the head. Focus on the fundamental priorities and work hard behind the scenes, which is probably key to success in any field of life”
Such a nice guy! He always has time for anyone down at the gym, I really couldn’t speak higher of him! A fantastic fighter that I hope achieves all he wants to! This fight isn’t the most recent he has had on YOKKAO but as soon as that one goes live I will share it. This is him vs Joe Newton.
Check him out fighting on the YOKKAO event last year. Video credits YOKKAO boxing I do not own anything to do with it.