Undefeated knockout sensation “Savage” Rick Cheek will put is 19-0 record on the line when he steps into the ring to battle in the K-1 North American Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. The event is schedule for August 11th 2007 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. The K-1 grand prix is an eight-man single elimination tournament in which Cheek will have to face three opponents in one night if he is to be crowned champion. I had the opportunity to speak with Cheek before the K-1 event, and this is what he had to say.
Hey Rick thanks for giving me the time to interview you, how’s it going?
It’s going great. Thanks for asking.
For starters, how did you get the nickname, “Savage”?
You know my fight record is 19-0 with 17 knockouts, and after each of my fights a lot of people at the gym would tell me, “it’s savage the way you fight, the way you fight is just savage.” So it kind of just stuck. So [then] I got savage tattooed across my neck, it looks like it’s carved in. The name [“Savage”] kind of just fit.
How has your training been going so far?
Training has been great. I’ve been fighting for 7 years, and after all these years of training, you learn more about your body, and every time you train you get smarter about it. I haven’t had any significant injuries getting ready for this tournament. I usually go into fights all banged and beat up, but this time I trained smart and hard, and this has been one of the best camps I’ve had. I’m coming in real fit, at 255 [pounds], and my cardio is beyond belief. So I feel great going into this [K-1] tournament, it’s kind of been my goal for so long. My training couldn’t have turned out any better.
What does your training consist of?
For this fight I did strictly Muay Thai training. I trained six days a week, with a day of rest. My kickboxing coach Billy Olsen is the one who trains me in Muay Thai. He’s held world titles and we’ve been together for about four years now. So I train Muay Thai with him four or five days a week. I have a conditioning coach that I work with named Bryan Forrest, from Forrest Fitness who helps me a lot with my strength. My first fighter is a 305 pounder, so I need to have some strength to deal with him. I have another conditioning coach from 24 HR fitness that works with me three times a week to build up my explosiveness and conditioning. [My training] pretty much consists of [lifting] weights, running, swimming and kickboxing.
You are facing Imani Lee? Is that correct?
What can you tell me about him?
[Imani is a 6’5”] a 305 pounder who is a great boxer and real heavy hitter. He’s the type of guy that if he hits you, you will either get knocked out or get rocked. For this fight I’m going to have to rely on my speed, skill and out kickbox him.
How do you prepare for a tournament like this? Knowing that in order to win this tournament you have to fight 3 times in one night. How do you prepare for something like that?
Well when I do my training I train for about 15 rounds. And come fight time I have about 30-45 minutes to rest in between fights. So I do 15 straight rounds so that I could definitely do 3 rounds for each fight. I just have to make sure that I am conditioned so that I could last that long.
What are you out to prove entering this tournament?
Well, first of all, I want to prove to myself that I can do it. For this tournament, as a young fighter, I was real amazed with the talent and the level of skill. I’ve done amature tournaments and a national tournament, so I’m still out to prove my abilities against the best fighters in the world. [This tournament] has some of the best strikers, and I think I’m one of them. I want to be the best striker so I have to beat the top competition. I want to prove to myself that I do belong here, and that this is not above my level. I’m the only undefeated fighter entering this tournament so I definitely have to prove that I could hang with the top-level athletes.
What do you think is your greatest weapon when you step into the ring?
You know, I’m 255 [pounds] but I move like a 175 pounder. My strikes are quick. My punches, my kicks, my movement, everything is pretty quick. And I hit real hard as well. My quick movement will make it harder for [my opponents] to hit me, and I will definitely hurt people with my power. I’ve been training hardso that some of these guys wont be able to keep up with me. My coaches, especially Billy Olsen, have made me a superior striker.
Have you ever considered going into Mixed Martial Arts? Or is it just strict kick boxing for you?
No I do mixed martial arts as well. I’m 3-0, all wins coming by way of knockout. On September 22nd, I’m actually fighting for the Gladiator Challenge world heavyweight title. The organization is called the Gladiator Challenge.
What do you prefer? Mixed martial arts or kickboxing?
You know it’s real hard to answer this, but my true love is for kickboxing. It’s more of an art form to me. I really love the art form of kickboxing. But I really enjoy the cage fighting just as much because it’s more brutal and it’s more raw and I really love to fight. With the 4 oz gloves it’s a lot more punishing. The striking [with the 4 oz gloves] compared to the kickboxing gloves is a lot more devastating. In the end I just love to fight. My true love is in kickboxing but I will never walk away from a cage fight.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans out there or people reading this?
Yeah, to all the savage fans, all the Rick Cheek fans that support me, I just want to say thanks for all they do for me. I owe a lot of credit to them especially when they go about their way for me. As far as what they do for me, when they buy t-shirts and help me prepare mentally for a fight it is all encouragement for me. I also want to thank a lot of my friends who support me and help me prepare. All my coaches I want to thank them for training me. Without my fans and my coaches I definitely wouldn’t be where I am at today. I really appreciate what they do for me.
I also really wanted to stress how much my trainer, Billy Olsen, has done for me. He puts in a lot of his time for me. He doesn’t really have to help me but he has. He’s not in it for the money. I really want to thank Billy Olsen for all that he has done for me and for helping me get ready for this fight and for helping me realize my dream. Thank you.
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