Poster Boy Jake Hecht.

Turn on…Tune in.

Jake has a swagger.  The kind of swagger that wouldn’t be out of place next to Clint Eastwood in one of his early movies.  Thankfully, he’s not famous for those deafening awkward silences; he’s engaging and articulate.  In fact, if I had my own radio show I would want Jake as a guest – not because he has a good face for radio (he doesn’t) but because I would ask the odd probing question and he would indulge me and my listeners to little stories that would make you want to tune in again next week.

If you were to tune in, it would go something like this…. Today’s guest is MMA fighter and coach, Jake Hecht.  He’s come a long way, born in St Louis Missouri but now resides at the Boxing Clinic Cork.   He has one older brother and a girlfriend, the statuesque Natalie who has followed him to Ireland.

SF.  So Jake, do you have a childhood memory that has shaped you?

JH. My older brother spent a great deal of time picking on me as a child. I totally agree that an older brother is supposed to pick on his younger brother, but my brother took things to a whole new level. Some fond memories of my childhood include when I was 4, Dustin dropped a steal pipe on my head and I got stitches, when he shoved me into bike handlebars and knocked my front tooth through my gums and into my nostril, or when he threw me into a billiards table and broke my collar bone.

In reaction to these injuries I spent my adolescent years lifting weights, learning how to wrestle, and learning how to box. When I was 13 I had a huge growth spurt and grew about 5 inches over the course of a summer. Learning how to box, wrestle, and putting on weight and height helped to reverse our roles. I spent the next few years picking on my older brother. These days we have levelled out and I feel as though we are even. We get along fine now, but without my childhood bullying I may not have pursued combat sports.

SF. Sounds like you were made for the job head MMA coach at the Boxing Clinic in Cork?

JH. A job as a coach is a dream job for me. I have a degree in education and I’m certified to teach secondary school history. Iwanted to give fighting a try and see how far I could go with it. I didn’t want to take a teaching job and wonder how far I could’ve gotten in fighting when I was 40. I am so happy that I made that choice, and I am very happy to be in Ireland and have a chance to see the world.

SF. What were your first impressions of the Clinic?

JH. I was so happy to see that the Clinic had a full size cage. When I left the HIT Squad* they only had one giant cage everyone trained in. So to get the guys in a normal size competition cage was great. I love showing moves off the cage and using it as a tool in the fights. I am very happy at the Clinic and looking forward to making great fighters out of Cork.

SF. What draws you to combat sports?

JH. Growing up I always played contact sports. I started playing ice hockey when I was 11. I played American football in secondary school. I started wrestling at the age of 14, and boxing at 16. When I transferred to a different college in 2003, someone told me about a MMA gym in Columbia, Missouri. I started there and fell in love with the idea that I could combine my wrestling and boxing skills.  Eight years later and I still love everyday of training and coaching.

SF. What does an average week of training look like?

JH. When I train for fights I usually do two sessions a day for 5-6 days a week, focusing on striking, wrestling, BJJ, and conditioning. Sometimes I focus on one aspect more than another depending on who the opponent is. The level of my next fight will determine whether I need to go to the US for preparation. I guess we will have to see what the future has in store.

SF. Describe your coaching style.

JH. When I am training my fighters, the practice is very intense. We focus on a few techniques; try those techniques out in live situations, and then do conditioning. I always tell my fighters that I will walk them through the whole fight. As long as they listen to me while they are out there, we will get the win.

SF. What’s your own fighting record like?

JH. Currently, in MMA, I am 10-2 professionally. Before I turned pro, I had 9 amateur fights and went 9-0. Before I found out about MMA I went 6-4 in amateur boxing, winning a golden gloves title, and getting second the next year. Late in my MMA career, I took a couple pro boxing fights for extra cash in college and cross training for MMA. I lost the two fights, but gained a lot of great stand up experience and a fair amount of cash. I had one exhibition kickboxing fight a couple of years ago that was a blast. I only really care about my MMA record, and everything else has been great experience.

SF. Do you have a favourite fighter?

JH. That would be George Saint Pierre.  I like watching his style of fighting and appreciate how well rounded he is. Becoming a complete fighter is a goal of mine and I feel that he has achieved that.

SF. Do you have a favourite curse word?

JH. Fuck and I fucking use it all the fucking time

SF. Do you have a favourite sound?

JH. Don’t know if I have one favourite sound. But I really like hearing waves crash into rocks, the sound of wind at the top of a very high mountain, the sound of a fighter losing his lunch during a cardio session, and the sound of almost any Rage Against the Machine song. My girlfriend laughing is up there too.

SF. Well my obvious next question would be  – what’s your least favourite sound?

JH. Anyone who’s trained with me will know that it’s “I can’t”…. Bullshit! Find a way.

SF. I’m always in awe of anyone who has the balls to step into the cage or the ring.  What would be your greatest fear?

JH. If I were ever to break my neck or lose the use of my legs or arms would be the worst things to ever happen to me. If I was unable to compete and coach I don’t think I could be happy in life. I am a very physical person and don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t hike mountains, run outside, or most of all fight for a living.

And on that note…we have to bid our listeners farewell…Turn on…tune in same time next week.

Oh if this were radio he’d be making me look really good about now.

Sue Finnegan

August 2011