Devil Makes Work For Idle Fighters
(in red shorts) slugging with Andy Cooper at MB7
day with professional MMA fighter Paul Jenkins by Hywel Teague 9 May 2003
Paul Jenkins is one of the most familiar faces on the UK fight scene. A veteran
of almost every promotion around, he has made it his mission to stay as busy as
possible in his career.
had the pleasure of meeting with Paul at the home he shares with his girlfriend
in Cardiff. As we sat watching Pride DVDs and talking about his career, it emerged
that Paul is a very modest and unassuming guy. Even though the first thing I noticed
about him as I met him in Cardiff city centre was the black eye and lump on his
forehead (hazards of the trade) Paul is a calm, affable sort, and is very generous.
While at his home the doorbell rang numerous times; it was mostly the neighbourhood
children, all coming around to borrow Xbox games. Paul explained he looked out
for one or two of the kids because their fathers had "gone away".
really isnt your stereotypical image of a fighter. Intelligent without being
necessarily articulate, he is into his spirituality and meditation, and explains
how it can combat a little of the anger day to day life can bring. Even his pedigree
Japanese Akita Bodhi, bears the name of a Buddhist figurehead.
could be misconstrued as having a "dont give a f*** attitude", and while
this is partly true, this is not through any sense of ignorance or arrogance.
It is more through simply letting himself go with the flow, and not allowing himself
to be drawn into any cycle of negativity.
being fed and watered, we made the trip to the club he fights out of in Penarth.
A spacious old church hall, it was modestly attended (being Friday night) but
the training was hard and good fun. By his own admission he is predominantly a
striker, but he has a surprisingly adept ground game (mostly self taught). Also
training at the club was a Welsh Commonwealth-Squad Judo player, a friend of Pauls
who also works the doors in Cardiff.
following interview was conducted at Pauls home towards the end of last
February. Since the interview, Paul has fought in numerous events such as Extreme
Brawl, and Ultimate Combat, holding their welterweight title.
Teague : So tell us a little about you training background.
Jenkins : I started in Judo when I was 7. I started Tae Kwon Do when I was 21,
did that for 8 years. I also did boxing and kickboxing at this time. In 1998 I
stopped the kickboxing and moved into Kyokushin karate, which is still my favourite
style, until I fell out with the coach. Kyokushin- its full contact, no hand strikes
to the head but everything else is allowed.
you compete much?
I won the Welsh amateurs in boxing, got into the Welsh squad. Welsh and UK titles
in full contact kickboxing, GB title in international rules as well. TKD Welsh
and GB titles, Karate GB and Welsh titles
And then I got into mixed martial
arts! Thought Id give that a go!
did you get into MMA?
as everyone else I expect, saw the videos and liked it. I hooked up with some
people with similar interests at a club in Penarth. Were mostly striker
based (as you can probably tell by my style).
got a rep as a fighter in and out of the ring; youve been doing door work
for quite some time now
Ive been a doorman at the same place for 11 years now, head doorman for
the last 6. Got called by someone cos they were shorthanded for a Rugby international,
they gave me a shirt and Ive kept it ever since! Its a good wage,
good hours and the lifestyle suits me.
you have any memorable stories from your time on the door?
but its not going on tape! (laughs) Im not cleaner than clean by any stretch
of the imagination, but Im not into that sort of thing.
the "hardman" stories, all the books, never ever got into them. Lifestyle wise,
its a f***ing job. Im fighting week in week out, I cant deny
it, but I dont try to bask in any glory or whatever.
do you balance the job with your training?
fits it perfectly. Ive got my days free, my early evenings free. Its not
a hard job physically (most of the time). It couldnt be better. I reckon
youd find a lot of guys would die for my hours.
do a morning session, which is mainly cardio and my technique work in the night.
I can fit two/three sessions in a day no probs. I train every day bar Saturdays
at the moment- shopping day, that is!
do you train?
four gyms at the moment- mainly the Vale Tudo gym in Penarth, a guy called Sam
John runs that, hes got a big striking background as well but hes got more
of a feel for the ground game than me. I use the YMCA boxing club in Cardiff to
look after my arms, a guy called Gary Pemberton (an ex-pro), hes brought
me on loads.
I use the
Roughhouse gym in Gloucester quite a lot, I get up there most weekend, thats
what I do on a Sunday. I rate it as one of the best gyms in the country training-wise.
They may not have the guys, but they train hard. Theyre one of the only
gyms that train properly.
lot of the MMA gyms Ive been to
They dont put the hard work
in, like the old-school boxing or kickboxing clubs. Especially the ground game
based gyms, I dunno, it seems like they go half-speed all the time. My cardio
is my big thing, so I always push the cardio training, for anyone who wants to
fight its the most important thing. I just dont think a lot of gyms
concentrate on it enough.
you train with the Welsh Judo Squad as well?
were training with one of them tonight, Craig Ewers. Hes an odd fella
(laughs). Limited techniques like most Judo guys but what he has got is superb.
His positioning, his strength on the deck is superb. Being Judo, a cracking armbar
and thats about it (chuckles).
so you fought pro in the kickboxing
professional as in they pay you, but not a great deal! (laughs)
familiar, so when you moved into mixed martial arts, did you find your experience
helped a lot?
I was a lot more advanced a lot of other people, the other "novices". Training
routines I could slip into better, my learning curve is easier, Im used
to learning. All the backroom stuff, putting up with nerves, getting ready for
fights. Thats half the battle in itself.
must have fought in pretty much every UK event going I reckon.
Combat Open Trials, Grapple and Strike, Ultimate Combat, Millennium Brawl, Extreme
Brawl, Cage Wars, Cage Warriors. One of the only ones I havent fought in
is Peter McQueens Jungle Wars.
you were fighting in the amateur events, did you expect MMA to get the stage its
at now in this country?
when I saw the videos I thought this is gonna mop up. As a spectator sport its
superb. Its the "ultimate" isnt it? Its all a question of marketing
you think of when the UFC came over?
yeah it was alright. I didnt go- I watched it on a chipped box so I didnt
have to pay for it (chuckles). Its been and gone though hasnt it.
Do you think
it will help raise awareness in the UK and take it to the next level?
think it will have raised awareness but I think its the domestic promoters
job to "take it to the next level".
easily one of the busiest fighters going- why do you fight so much?
I havent got a fight lined up I wont train properly, and I go off
the boil really quick. Ill just keep lining them up as it helps keeps me
focused. I just cant stop training. If I stopped training now, I reckon
thatd be the end of me, Id probably turn into a fat old man!
worried that you might one day turn into the UK MMA scenes journeyman?
If I ever start losing anywhere near what Im winning, then Ill knock
it on the head. Im probably more like the Gatekeepers like in Pride- if
youre good enough to beat me, then youre in, if youre not, then
f*** off! (Laughs)
of all the wins that youve had, which of the wins sticks out the most?
of them mean shit to me to be honest. Im always forward thinking, I fought
last week, had a good win, fought two weeks before that and had a bad loss. I
cant have my time again can I, theyre gone, theyve happened.
Ive gone out, had
cracking fights and lost, and loved every second of it. Ive had crap fights
and won, and hated it. Im performance-based rather than result-based.
which fights are you looking forward to?
(silence). F*** it, I dont even look forward to fights! I suppose
Im the other way round as well, Im fighting all the time, I do want
to fight, but I dont care who I fight, who for or what for! I like the silence
Ive got a
hectic schedule in the house (hes currently doing a lot of DIY work), I
just get in the ring or the cage and for ten/twenty minutes I can just be myself.
It goes blank in my head, I love it.
quite friendly with a number of fighters, and youve fought quite a few.
Who do you have respect for out of these guys?
of the guys at Roughhouse in Gloucester, just because of the regime that Mark
puts them through.
wise, I respect anyone, absolutely anyone. Its not my business to go around
probably one of the top fighters in the UK
you were given the chance to fight abroad would you go for it?
Id love to. Ill take whatever is offered, I always have done. Im
fighting quite a few foreign opponents over here, less travelling for me.
we know youve got a busy schedule for the next couple of months- what happens
carry on as normal. Im fighting every month or twice a month for the next
few months, Ill just keep making the phone calls to keep busy.
you do call it a day, will you stay in the sport?
Facility wise, weve got a really good gym.
youll shift into training others?
see what happens. I learn through osmosis, rather than being taught. I learn in
my fights, so for me to pass that on to someone else is going to be very difficult.
Id rather be the figurehead of a gym and pull in outside coaches. Ill
see if I can keep hold of Craig Ewers, he can look after our ground game. Ive
got Gary Pemberton; Ill start bringing him down to the Vale Tudo gym as
talk about Cagewarriors. It was meant to be held in Penarth, but with problems
with the council it was not given the go ahead. What are your thoughts on that?
why from their point of view. Theyre not fighters or fight fans. It can
be a horrible looking sport at times. People try and brush around that all the
time, saying "its a skilled art-form, blah-de-blah". Its not, its f***ing
fighting in a room. At the end of the day, you can dress it up how you like, with
lights cameras and personalities. But its still scrapping, and if youre
the council and its not your cup of tea, then they can bin it. But, the
other angle is that theyre an elected council, and if the people who elected
them want it, them its another thing all together. Its a legal sport, a
rough one, but theres no reason to stop it.
you think we will end up with CW in South Wales?
weve scouted a few places, I reckon itll happen sooner or later.
do you think needs to be done to help change the attitude of the public then?
How can we start to get the sport more accepted in this country?
TV coverage weve had now is bringing it on leaps and bounds. Other than
that its a slow process. As soon as you start ramming it down peoples
throats, then theyll shy away from it.
fifteen shows this year planned already, I reckon maybe twice as many next year,
it might soon just seem normal.
the TV crew followed you around for a few days.
they actually got quite excited by the sport. Hopefully well keep stay in
contact. I got on really well with them, they though it was quite unusual the
way I train, that Ive got a full-time routine. I had a good couple of days
with them, and a corking scrap at the end of it with Gaz Roriston.
followed me around, home-life, work-life, meeting family and friends. They came
to two or three training sessions. Im looking forward to seeing the finished
to wrap up, what can we expect from Paul Jenkins in the future.
to the wall scrapping! If its a scrap, Ill be there for it.
great, thanks a lot mate.
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