The most feared
In Mark Kerrís golden days, our staff breaks into the giantís home in the USA and discusses steroids, Rickson and Gurgel. But it was master Hulk who nearly sent him to an early retirement.
In the end of the nineties, American fighter Mark Kerr bore the alias of worldís most feared man. Not unfairly, of course, for from 1997 to 2000 everyone who crossed his path wound up tasting defeatís bitter flavor Ė as bitter as blood in the mouth. It was a total of 12 victories, four of which in UFCís shows.
Nowadays, at 37, Kerr is unnoficially retired, after walking out of his three latest Pride apparitions defeated, and in January, 2004, he pretty much knock himself out while trying to take down Japanís Yoshihisa Yamamoto.
However, Kerrís career will not be remembered by these mishaps. Hence the importance of recalling the unforgettable interview given by the titan back in 1999, when he welcomed our staff into his Arizona house. Check out what Mark had to say about UFC vs. Pride, his job as Rolling Stonesí roadie and the dream of fighting Rickson and Royce Gracie Ė which unfortunately never happened. Have you always thought about being a professional sportsman?
Yes, I have practiced many sports, each at its time. Iíve played baseball, athletics, wrestling, but I always thought Iíd be a professional football player. Until, when I was a senior, I was chosen exclusively for wrestling. The other dreams died, for one of the scholarshipís conditions was not to play footballHow was it for you in college?
I had trouble adapting, for Syracuse was an expensive university. I moved to California, where I got a job in the Rolling Stonesí tour. Iíd travel the country assembling and taking to pieces the stages, and in that year I gained weight. That was in 1989, when I was 20, and it was when I saw I didnít want to do that kind of job my whole life. So I decided to go back to college.Was your comeback easy?
I was lucky to meet Chris Camble, a lawyer and former world wrestling champion, he had stopped fighting but decided to go back into action. He moved to Syracuse he had much experience in the sport, and got lucky he needed some human material to work with. As a young, talented fighter, he chose me and put me under his wing. He was my first idol, and a very important person for my career.When did you decide to go to m.m.a?
I got motivated when I saw Don Frye and Dan Severn win in UFC, for I knew I was a better wrestler. Then I lost to Coleman in the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 . He lost in the next round, and we both signed up to fight in the UFC. He wound up being chosen, which coincided with me having to stay with my mom in her final days.
Now back to m.m.aÖ
After my mother died I started training and on January 19, 1997 [former promoter] Frederico Lapenda organized a show I ended up fighting in.
And you faced perhaps your toughest opponent, Fabio Gurgel, who at the time was trying to get over a loss to Jerry Bohlander in the UFC and didnít expect to fight a top wrestlerÖ
Neither did I expect to fight someone in Fabioís caliber, and Lapensa surprised us with that match. But he knew what he was doing.But you kept going in the UFCÖ
When I took off one of master Hulkís teeth I almost lost my hand due to an inflammation. I stop fighting for five months and went back in UFC 14 and 15; then I went to Pride, where I fought the 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.Changing to Pride caused you some troubles, right?
In order to fight in the UFC I had to sign a contract, which later on got me into a courthouse struggle. My deal said I was supposed to fight three events in a championship format, and since in Ultimate Japan they had super-fights, I didnít feel obliged to compete. So I accepted an invitation to fight Royce in Pride, but SEG [UFCís organizer] went to court, trying to annul my passport, so we argued, but I ended up winning.Why did you choose to leave the UFC?
Every body started to do so, because SEG was making a lot of money and not giving the fighters any. In Ultimate Fighting Championship 1, they got pay-per-view revenue that was among the ten largest in TV history, but still they donít pay the stars well.What about your challenge towards Rickson and Royce?
In the fight milieu, I gotta respect and be respected, and if you respect me, I respect you. Everone must be confident, but not arrogant, therefore itís hard for me to say I want to fight Rickson and Royce and not be arrogant, for they decline it. I read an article where Rickson says no one had shown anything noteworthy in the events, so he didnít feel the need to fight. Then he fights Takada. Now thatís a contradiction. And Royce says he is injured and canít do a thing about it, but meanwhile people tell me heís been teaching class, running Ė I find it very weird, and wonder how serious the injury can be.But donít you agree when Rickson pushes fightersí purses up?
As a fighter I must agree on that. We do generate more money than we make. But It is important for us to raise the values even more, which is why I think the strong ones should face off. Bouts such as Kerr vs. Rickson and Kerr vs. Royce would help that happen.And concerning Royce, if he doesnít wish to fight, why would he have signed with Pride?
I think he thought I would never fight because I was being sued. I donít demand Rickson or Royce to fight me. If I am too big, Iíd like to see them fight someone tough, even their own size. Bohlander, Shamrock maybe. After all, I donít mean to say bad things about them, but they grant no one credit. For example, their cousin Renzo is one guy I respect, simply because he accepts fights where there is an actual chance his opponent might win. He weights 76kilo and I know he is afraid of facing no one.Did your wins yield you a lot of publicity?
I have many friends at local radio stations, and they talk about me whenever I am about to compete. Every time I fight I go to some talk show and get a lot of calls. But I can walk around on the streets, itís not like in Brazil or Japan.Is it true you think of retiring?
Thatís not what itís about, but I donít think m.m.a. will take me very far, so I start thinking about what Iím gonna do afterwards. Some times you have to make choices not every body agrees upon, but I always look for whatís best for me. So, when I retire, I must be ready to change arenas. Meanwhile Iím just doing what I enjoy.You mentioned big guys. There are many out there taking steroids, right?
Definitely. People donít fully understand what it means. Some fighters made their choice and didnít perform very well, and we are certain thatís due to steroid abuse. These guys gained 20lb from one event to the next. I know many people have talked about me, Coleman and many others, and I also know about many guys who are on it, but I think if you choose to use it, at least do it moderately. By the way, every lifelong decision should be judged carefully. Itís like drinking. Itís not a good idea to get hung over, but drinking a few glasses canít do much harm. Thereís a crucial difference between using and abusing.You say some fightersí bodies changed. But you gained weight yourself, right?
Itís different. If you look at pictures of me from five years ago, youíll se I didnít change much, I gained about 8kilo worth of muscle and I believe I am genetically prepared for that gain. I read a lot about steroids, and I enhance my body. People ask me whether I use them and I say I do what I must in order to stand out in my sport, but o know how to protect myself. I try to keep my body healthy and as clean as possible. I know it is hard to believe, for everyone has pictured me already.