Gavin Hughes is a mixed martial artist who competes in the lightweight division for Bellator MMA. The former Extreme Fighting Championship title challenger has amassed a 10-1 record as a professional.
Gavin Hughes: How’S your day, been so far, pretty good, just literally just got like got the shower and stuff after training, so I’m feeling my body’s feeling tired, but my mind’s here with you, I was a house-training, been obviously very suitable times with the pandemic yeah. I think I mean finally kind of gotten those swinging things. I think everybody’s kind of found the new normal now with being homeless. You know all the coronavirus fun stuff going on, but I mean our gym is closed, so just been getting conditioning it outside the gym. Basically give a timeline of when that’ll the general open back up, or is it all just up in the air I was supposed to be. Yesterday I was June 1st and USA Boxing was saying June 1st for their sanction gyms, but they bumped it back to the June 30th, so we’re just kind of waiting and waiting and watching and crossing our fingers. So a Houston Alexander was actually the person who sent me your. What your way he was like you got ta go check her out, so I okay I’ll, have her on um. So how do you know Houston and then how’s training with him? Okay, so I work for the YMCA here in Omaha and Houston: does a ton throughout the community, as I’m sure you heard talk with him, but he DJ’s for events around here and met him. He was DJing at an event for Black History Month event that I was at, and somebody said, oh, you know he sends a fighter like you should talk to him he’s at the time I was trying to get back into it after I’d had a baby. So why not talk to him and he’d tried to tell me that no, he was not a fighter. He was a professional ice skater so but anyways, that’s how I got started training with him just kind of he. He does workouts with people here in Omaha. So just been getting back in shape with him and kind of getting my like skills back sharp again, because it’s been it’s been a little while I was a little rusty there, so yeah. How does it feel to get back and training, especially after having a baby? I feel like that would be obviously I’ve never experienced that never will but uh. I can’t imagine it’s it’s easy. It’S like. Basically, the pain of getting back in shape, plus, like all all of your muscles, have been stretched out and you have to figure out how to cope with all of that and my jump rope and try not to pee your pants. The the postpartum recovery is just a whole nother animal on top of just getting back in shape, so I just took a lot of patience and just you know really, given my body some grace well, it was getting back in shape, but I’m doing pretty good now Feeling pretty strong, and I can definitely I mean everybody – can always get a little bit more conditioned up, but I’m feeling good and strong now so you’re looking forward to you’re looking to make your debut. Is there? How far out do you think you are before having a first match as a woman right? So I’m looking forward to like my first fight, I’ve kind of been lined up in the past for a few fights cut weight and normally that’s there isn’t a woman. That’S my weight: that’s there at that particular tournament or whatever it is so now I’m looking, hopefully maybe like September. This fall timeframe looking to get my first fight and if any of that doesn’t work out, I’m just gon na be trying to get smokers just just to get some experience under my belt, because it’s just it’s hard to count on any like sure. But as a female in this sport, so what what is the goal as a? So? What do you want to achieve? Yeah? I mean I’m 25 getting into this well, I started upon. I was 22, so there have been women that have started later than me that have made it to become world champs. I would love to go pro and just see how far I can take my skill set. I love I just love the sport, so just getting to be around it, for me is awesome and as far as I can take it I’d love to push myself as far as I can yeah, what’s uh, what got you into it? Obviously it’s just like you mentioned it’s hard as a woman. Obviously, it’s a male-dominated sport as of right now, like I’m, not a big boxing fan, but I can only think of really Laila Ali and Clarissa Shields, but I can name 20 or 30 boxers that are male. What do you think it will take? I guess as well, for I guess, women boxing to be as big as male boxing yeah. I think it comes down to promoting in boxing just compared to MMA, isn’t the best at promoting, even even for the male fighter. Just like. I think a lot of people bring up like Terence Crawford, like probably the best pound-for-pound, but could walk onto a subway and people might not know who is so there’s some complete opposite. I think boxing could take a take a hint from them and you know especially women like they just don’t get probably Katie Taylor as a female boxers, the best promoted and she now it’s like the best paid female in boxing. So it just it comes down to promoting excu. If you have your name out there, that’s why people are gon na, put you on TV and that’s how you get the money. So what got you into it? So I started out. It was just kinda introduced to it through, like fitness classes right. So just the like. Let’S get your heart rate up, kinda faxing, but I really enjoyed it and I was like 9 I’d love to actually like see. Can I actually do this and compete and stuff? So, just kind of like gradually made the steps over to training and gyms that were serious about competing and investing in me. That way. Have you have you tried other martial arts, like I do Jiu Jitsu I’ve done boxing. I got hit in the hit in the liver once and I was like. Okay, I’m done with this uh-huh. Have you ever considered other other martial arts? I have been around like kickboxing. I’Ve been around. I’Ve had trainers that were more in, like the muy Thai side of things do Jitsu and who really wanted me to kind of. Like start in the MMA side of things, and it’s funny that you say like you got hit in the liver, and that was why you don’t on a box to me. It’S like okay in MMA, you could get hit in the liver plus, like all these other horrifying injuries. So – and I mean technically right, boxing is more dangerous, because you’re taking more repetitive blows to the head and like vital organs, but for whatever reason like there’s like seeing the videos of people like just snapping their shins on other people’s Chin’s is just horrifying to me. Yeah, that’s just get over that yeah. There’S some nasty MMA injuries. I guess boxing mainly is the you know head to him and chiffon is a big thing, but if you’re good you don’t get hit all right weather so so who is? Do you have Terence Crawford? Is number one in the world right now or now? I’Ve got a lot of favorites, but I mean that just rotates so much anyways and it just kind of arbitrary. But I, like Terence Crawford, like Errol Spence down Dallas. I also have seen and really like Maurice hooker is a good boxer, so there’s a lot of good ones. That are, I mean it’s just. It’S really stacked right now, so, especially on the male side. Yeah I find with with women, especially I find I can only name too, but in MMA, like Amanda Nunez is better paid than a lot of male champions. So I think it really is only a matter of like you said promotion like even a few years ago. Dana White said women will never fight in the UFC and then Ronda Rousey came around and then Amanda Nunez. So I really think that it. You know boxers especially promoters need to take a page from Dana White’s book and kind of you know use that as well to promote female boxers. You know, like I’m saying it’s just it’s all about promotion, but people don’t necessarily want to give women airtime, and there is just a certain amount of that that people got to get over because once when you see women fighting whether it’s boxing or MMA, like they’re, Leaving it all out there, so they’re performing they’re outperforming men and a lot of fights, I think, but I agree especially like I’m a guy so especially in May they you don’t watch boring female fights right, they’re, just putting it all out there, because they’ve got more To prove they’re trying to prove not just for themselves but for women in general, and I love it it’s but like this weekend, Amanda Nunez is fighting Felicia, Spencer and they’re headlining a card filled with men, and I love it. I hope soon boxing following this I mean it seems like there’s that new wave kind of that’s coming in boxing, especially since they started in 2012 and the Olympics. They they introduced women’s boxing, granted it’s only three weight classes, but something and the the champs that kind of came out of that wave of Olympians are really starting to promote, like women’s saying as I swore it so well. Yes, he pressed my fingers yeah like Claressa Shields, she’s super vocal she’s, getting out there and even calling out MMA fighters, which i think is great. I think it really brings in different fans like I had no idea who she was until she started. She’S talking about 20 21, looking to like jump over into MMA too, so that would be really interesting. I mean she’s she’s, just an aggressive fighter period like I feel like she could she could do it. I would sort of the physical side of things. Obviously, what are some of the other struggles you face as a female boxer yeah, so I think every time I’ve kind of come into a new gym. It’S it takes you kind of like at least twice as long to just show up and do the work to to get somebody to say like hey like okay, let’s, let’s get you into sparring, let’s get you into it like it, just takes longer to prove yourself In a gym, and once you do that like normally, then the coaches are invested in you, but even then they’re used to getting fights for their men boxers so like in Texas. The team I was on, I was probably like 20 dudes and then me and one other girl and so they’re gon na go to all these local stuff, like those are the easy fights to get. But then there’s no women that are there for for us to fight. So it’s just hard like you have to definitely prioritize yourself and advocate for yourself as a female boxer and I’m sure fighter in general. I’M not sure how it goes on anime side. But I you just got to know that, like you got to put in work and probably travel and just really try to find people that that will be in your corner to connect you with people that kind of know where the fights are at, what advice would You give to two girls, I guess coming out of university or high school or whatever it may be, who are hesitant to go to a gym, because it’s predominantly male and a lot of people would guess scared. Almost what advice would you give them are scared to go on a gym, because it’s a lot of dudes in there, probably not the people that are gon na like pass the test. Anyways and like really have the strength to be a good fighter, but I think it is valid for like younger girls that, like they don’t necessarily they’re, not seeing it as a something that’s for them. So for younger girls, I would say like just like. Do it like it’s there’s no pressure at first, if you want to like try your hand at it, like do the kind of dumb fitness class stuff like start out on that side, like there’s so much less pressure and then like just like kind of like, I Did like you can just kind of gradually cross over once. You know that. That’S what you want to do, but what I will say like to be careful of, if you’re, starting in the fitness side, is that people don’t necessarily care about technique on on that side. There is literally you’re just trying to get in shape, so you can definitely learn bad habits that take a long time to learn so yeah. But it’s all I mean like just do it like there’s nothing about fighting that is like inherently male like you could be. Just as badass as all the dudes imagine you did some work, I guess what kind of shift focus here and do some non martial arts stuff. He did some work with the human impact. What was that like? I do something similar where I volunteer and feed the homeless, so I just kind of talk about that. What that was like when I was living back in Texas. That’S when I worked with them. They basically work with chronically homeless down in Dallas South Dallas, in like a really specific neighborhood. So we would go out and, like do street outreach, specifically people that were had been on the streets for like three or more years or had experienced like three or more bouts of homelessness in a year. So we just literally like get to know people on a one-on-one basis, figure out what. Why are you out here? What are the like root causes that have led to you being out here for this long and a lot of times? It was like some some like loss of relationship, so maybe they’re in prison and they came out there. Their mom had died while they’re in prison, and so they didn’t come out to any kind of support system. So I got so like kind of work with that team, as as some of their support system right and it was, I love that work. It was like emotionally exhausting, but you just get to like meet and get to know so many amazing people through it. So do you find that kind of helps? I guess with with boxing like I know I like the work I did. I find when I go to do any sort of training. I almost used it as like anytime. I was in pain. I was like this. Isn’T it helps? I mean I’m the like mental strength side of things? I think, because you have to have your own boundaries and that kind of work too, so that side of it like you, definitely have to be mentally strong know what your boundaries are. What you’re comfortable with what you’re, not but also like the type of people that you get to know like you say it’s just inspiring like man, this students been through so much like I can. I can go another round or whatever like yeah, and I guess last question here what sorts of things have you been doing through the through the pandemic? I think everyone’s been locked at home. Very little training can be done, works been limited. What sorts of things gon na be doing to occupy yourself and he’s run around keeping me pretty busy? So that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of this evening. Once I go pick him up so yeah, he keeps me it’s totally busy and then I’ve. Definitely this kind of came it like an opportune time. Like I said I, I was trying to get back in shape after having a baby, so this pandemic, you know who’s kind of forced me to be like okay. I just got focused on getting my conditioning up and doing all of that stuff. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time working out but just kind of like I don’t know doing the like little hobbies here and there that I used to like to do didn’t have time for so reading and just kind of you know riding my bike around And stuff like that, so it’s it’s been a good reset. I’Ve been trying to see it as that, at least alright. Awesome! Alright, thanks very much for for taking the time. I appreciate you jumping on yeah thanks for having me it’s a great check. Of course, all right all the best – hopefully you can get a fight soon and hopefully, at this boxing career started all the best right.