INTERVIEW WITH KAZUHIRO HAMANAKA
09/07/2003

Takada Dojo's "super rookie", Kazuhiro Hamanaka set off on August 29th for more training with Randy Couture, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland's Team Quest. This is Hamanaka's 2nd trip to train with Team Quest. Before he left however, Hamanaka held a press conference at Takada Dojo to talk about his upcoming trip.

Kazuhiro Hamanaka has been making a push for his appearance in the main-event at the October 5th Bushido event. Hamanaka made his debut with a win against Nino "Elvis" Schembri. Even before his fight with Schembri, Hamanaka had been training with Team Quest. According to Hamanaka, the fight with Schembri was signed only 3 days before the event. This time, however, he will go to America to train for about 3 weeks in preparation for Bushido. "I learned a lot about myself in the fight with Nino." Hamanaka said, "I've got to learn the correct distance when striking and to be able to use my (wrestling) techniques, regardless of position. I want to be able to follow up strikes with takedowns the way Fedor does."

Hamanaka will be able to train with the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture. "Randy's fighting style is close to what I want mine to become. The other fighters (at Team Quest) have the same wrestling base as me so I can study vale-tudo style that makes good use of wrestling." Hamanaka will stay at Couture's house during his trip and said that he hopes to learn a lot when he goes to watch the September 20th UFC event where Couture will fight Tito Ortiz.

 

 

 

Hamanaka also wants to bring back a "souvenir". "I want to bring back something that can really finish a fight, maybe a sleeper-hold or something like that." According to Hamanaka's university wrestling coach "in the beginning there's nothing he can do but use his wrestling to ground and pound. In the end, however, I hope he'll be more like Sakuraba and win by submission." Hamanaka seems to agree, "When you win by decision, there's still something that doesn't feel right. I want to win by submission or KO. If you go in defensively, you can't win."

Apparently, everything is not perfect in America for Hamanaka. "I don't really like American food. It doesn't suit me well and I lost a lot of weight last time. They eat deer meat. It's hard and not very good. Everyone eats bread and I can't really get any rice. One thing that I always looked forward to was buying fried-rice at a supermarket 10 km down the road."

Hamanaka's expression changed when Bushido was brought up. "I don't care if my opponent is Japanese or a foreigner. As long as he is a strong fighter, I want to fight him. I don't think that Japanese fighters are weak. I just think they haven't been able to really show their strong points. I want to prove that Japanese are the strongest fighters. I'm not going to settle for just winning my debut fight. I want to win more. I want to get stronger and that feeling gets stronger all the time."