When speaking of combat royalty, no one can forget the King of Lethwei – Dave “The Nomad” Leduc. Muay Thai Guy has the interview with the toughest man alive . .
THE NOMAD REIGNS SUPREME
Lethwei is Thai boxing on cocaine. It is a full contact sport from Myanmar that uses knees, elbows, kicks, punches, takedowns, clinching techniques, and, most infamously, headbutts. Lethwei boxers fight bare-knuckle with only tape on their hands. There is no point system. The victories are only acquired by KO. Lethwei is :Eeasily the world’s bloodiest combat sport.
Dave “The Nomad” Leduc is the reigning King of Lethwei. He is the current openweight Lethwei World Champion. He is the first Canadian to win in the controversial Prison Fight Thailand in Bangkok. Lastly, he is the first non-Burmese fighter to win the Lethwei world title.
Standing at 6’2, and weighing 175 lbs., the Nomad is arguably the best striker on the planet. He holds wins over notorious killers like Tun Tun Min, Nilmungkorn Sudsakorn, Too Too, Cyrus Washington and plenty of other gangsters under both Muay Thai and Lethwei rule sets.
On August 19th, in Yangon, Myanmar, Leduc will face the legend, former Rajadamnern Stadium and WBC Muaythai Champion Diesellek. This is a classic fight of style vs. style in Lethwei vs Muaythai.
Dave, who is currently in the middle of his training camp in Dubai, was kind enough to take some time to grant us an interview.
MTG: How did you get into Lethwei?
LEDUC: I started training Sanda/Sanshou at the age of seventeen with my mentor Sifu Patrick Marcil in Gatineau Canada. He really taught me how to be different and be unpredictable. I went to Thailand on three occasions to sharpen my tools. I loved my time as a nak muay. It led me to fight in one of my most interesting bouts in my career, the controversial Prison Fight in Bangkok inside the maximum security prison.
I have to say that, ever since I can remember, we always were training very aggressively, with the ‘’street fight’’ mindset. I loved to train bareknuckle on the bag, with headbutts. The transition to Lethwei was very natural. I was born and trained to fight in that style, from the physical to the mental aspect. After winning a spot on the Tiger Muay Thai sponsored fighters team in early 2016, I went a full year dominating the Phuket Muay Thai circuit. Then I got a call to make my debut fight in the Lethwei World Championship against the undefeated 75 kg champion (36-0). I rearranged his face. Since then, the country adopted my wife Irina and I as their own.
MTG. But now you’re in Dubai. What brought you there?
LEDUC: Yeah, it’s crazy. Basically, I was invited by Rob Chamberlain to do a seminar in Dubai. My wife and I fell in love with the place, so we decided to stay. It was very spontaneous, [but] that’s how I live my life.
MTG: What’s the martial art scene like in Dubai?
LEDUC: It’s mostly BJJ and Muay Thai, but I’m bringing the Lethwei style and it’s picking up fast. I’m doing some seminars and having meetings to see how we can expose Lethwei in the Middle East.
MTG: Who is training you now that you’re in Dubai?
LEDUC: Right now, I’m training with a good team of Muay Thai and MMA fighters. I have good sparring partners. I like training with MMA fighters because they give me a different look. I trained for two years in Thailand and I got used to that style. Training with MMA fighters is unorthodox and I love it. The one thing I miss about training in Thailand is the 30 to 40 minutes clinch we used to do but that’s OK ’cause fighting is 90% mental and I know what I have to do. Right now I’m hungry and ready to fight.
MTG: How do you condition your hands and fingers for bare-knuckle boxing?
LEDUC: Good question. A lot of people ask me that, so I’m currently preparing my online Lethwei academy to teach some of my techniques to strengthen your neck and fingers. Basically, you need to do push-ups on your fingers, knuckles, wrists, and hit the heavy bag without gloves at least once a week. I’ll be sharing a lot more once I put my program online, so stay tuned.
(See below for more of Leduc’s intense pain training regiment.)
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Protect ya neck Training the front neck muscles (Sternocleidomastoïd muscles) your last line of defence in a fight. If your head movement fails, if deflecting fails, you will get hit. You are left with how tough you are, but importantly how tough your neck is. That goes for Burmese boxing, but also for all combat sports. – I saw lot of weak necks during my travels. Most of the times I was alone doing my neck raises after training. Most people think you either have a “solid jaw” or you don’t and that you can’t train it, but you can train your pain threshold and discomfort. – I have been on a strict neck training schedule for a while , and thankfully I was still standing after getting punched by the hardest punchers in Myanmar Lethwei. I’m saying this for all naysayers criticizing my methods. Do it or not I don’t care. It’s battle tested. It works for me, it might work for others. – Only thing I know is, if you want to succeed where others didn’t, you have to change things up. You can’t go into Lethwei with only a Muaythai training regimen, it failed many and will fail more. If you want different results you have to do things differently. Train outside the box 🙏🏼 Be outside the box 📦
MTG: I’ve noticed that you really know how to use your height and reach to your advantage. How did you develop that type of ringcraft?
LEDUC: My coach Sifu Patrick Marcil is quite smaller than me. Using Kung Fu and Jeet Kune Do principles, he was very fast (still is) at closing distance on me. Even though I love to fight in pocket with elbows and my head now, at the time I didn’t like the feeling of my opponent dictating the pace of the fight. After countless hours of sparring with him and my teammates, we developed a couple tricks to keep my distance and keep the fight where I want to to be.
MTG: How do you deal with a tough fighter like Diesellek?
LEDUC: This is probably the toughest guy I’m going to fight. He previously held both the Rajadamnern and WBC belts, so he’s accomplished. Diesellek has a good left kick, he notably knocked out the current Lumpinee and Rajadamnern champ Youssef Boughamen with that same left kick, but he’s never faced a guy like me. I’m ready to take him into the deep Lethwei waters. So the question should be how is he going to deal with a guy like me.
MTG: So it’s safe to say that this fight is the most important in your career?
LEDUC: Yes – absolutely. This fight is super important to me because for one, I will be unifying all the Lethwei belts, but more importantly, my coach Pat Marcil will be flying in from Canada to be in my corner. I’ve never had an English-speaking cornerman since I began fighting Lethwei. So this is going to be fun. I’m excited to share this experience with my first coach. He has a way to motivate me and bring the best out of me.
MTG: I see that you’ve been doing seminars in Canada and now Dubai. Is that something you’re planning on continuing?
LEDUC: Yes. This year, I’ll be doing a European tour, a Canadian tour, I’ll be visiting the West Coast in the U.S, and will also go to Rio do to seminars. I love teaching, and I feel I will have greater impact as an ambassador for Lethwei.
Leduc is more than just a champion – he is the Lethwei king. His confidence is through the roof and his martial skills are real. The twenty-six year old champion doesn’t care who’s standing in his way. The Nomad’s only goal is to conquer and expand his kingdom across all continents.
Dave Leduc and Dieselek will face off on August 19 in Myanmar. This fight will be streamed on Lethwei World on Facebook. Don’t miss it.
- Pierre started his journey in martial arts after witnessing Bruce Lee on the silver screen. He began training Tae Kwon Do, earning a brown belt by his 18th birthday. He took up Muay Thai in 2000, training under Kru Nestor Marte in New York City. Pierre eventually moved to South Florida and trained at American Top Team under Christian Toleque and the late Howard Davis Jr. Pierre finally made the leap to Bangkok in 2007, having about a dozen fights. Today, Pierre Smith teaches Muay Thai and strength and conditioning out of his home gym. He also has a podcast called Catching Wreck which is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and Google Play. Pierre can be reached at www.catchingwreck.com.