Steven Banks – Honored to Fight

By Mike LNg

Steven Banks

Steven Banks is something of a rare quantity in Muay Thai.  He’s a highly decorated athlete in other sports.  Steven pursued a professional American football career in Arena League Football and has been invited multiple times to work out with NFL teams. Steven then got into MMA and rapidly compiled an 11-0 amateur record. Steven has always been a fan of Muay Thai and furthered his Muay Thai training under the tutelage of former champion Maurice Travis.  Steven ‘The Panda” Banks is set for a WBC Muay Thai super heavyweight US Champion title shot at the upcoming WCK Muay Thai event in August.

You started off in professional sports with a career in football. What made you decide to try out Muay Thai?

I have always enjoyed competition. I was always interested into Martial Arts. Muay Thai just so happened to be top of my list as the Art that I wanted to learn.

Who were some of your early influences in Muay Thai?

Maurice Travis, Rammon Dekkers. I had alot of K-1 fighters that I looked up to as well: Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost, Peter Aerts, Ray Sefo, Semmy Schilt, Jérôme Le Banner, thats just to name a few…haha.

What about Muay Thai appeals to you most?

The knees and elbows. I love watching a Muay Thai fight that ends with a devastating elbow that nobody expects to happen.

Many fans may only know of you from your MMA appearances for promotions like Bellator. What can you tell fans so far about your experiences with Muay Thai so far?

I first started training under Neal Rowe in Cincinnati Ohio. When we first started training he told me that I needed to start fighting. I just laughed it off, never thinking I would make a carreer out of fighting. I ended up moving down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to train with Maurice Travis. He has taught me so much in just a short amount of time.

We talked briefly about MMA and K-1. And you said you actually prefer K-1 or Muay Thai why is that?

Its totally true. Don’t get me wrong; I like MMA but standup fighting is where its at. Muay Thai is considered to be the hardest standup art to master. You can be hit with so many different weapons. I consider myself a striker, not a cuddler (grappler). I know that K-1 brings all the best strikers in the world together. I want to be considered one of the best strikers in the world some day. To have the pretty green belt saying World Champion. WOW, that would be great! I know I will get there some day. I just got to take it one fight at a time.

Having started Muay Thai relatively recently (Since 2005) what were the most important things you learned first about Muay Thai?

Cardio, You cant be a tree and stand there. You will get cut down, even at the larger weight classes. You have to be able to move…oh and keep your hands up.

Since you’re obviously a large fighter even for a heavy weight how do you feel your Muay Thai translates into technique adapted for a much bigger person?

I think I am a fairly fast Heavy weight. Bigger fighters always try to use strength to beat their opponent. Techique will beat strength time and time again. I like to use technique rather than power because you dont burn as much energy. Remember, I’m a big guy. All big guys are lazy unless its dinner time.

Who do you train with in your team in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina?

I train in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina right now. My main training partners are: Tomar Washington, Nissen Osterneck, Walker Vivian, Mike Kelley, Trevor Barnes, Jon Owens, Phillip Burnette and Parker Porter. My Personal Trainer is Keith Hare. He kicks my butt everytime we get into the gym. He is ready to go no matter what is going on.

I also go to Nashville MMA and train sometimes with Dave Herman and Ed Clay. Ed is a really good coach. He is able to point out a lot of mistakes. I will probably make it out to Las Vegas for a bit before this fight to train with Mark Beecher or make my way to Los Angeles, California to meet up with Maurice Travis for a bit. He can still kick my tail. I keep telling him I’m gonna beat him on his birthday every year.

The Panda connects to the body

What are some of the challenges of getting in good sparring being such a large fighter?

It’s tough. I’ve actually got a couple big guys here that are really good. So right now, it’s actually going really good. Since it’s such an honor to fight for the WBC Muay Thai belt, I have all kinds of friends more than willing to help me out.

Because you fight both in Muay Thai and MMA how do you adapt your style for each sport?

At first I thought it was a little tough because I like to strike and 99% of fighters in the heavyweight division like to grapple. I’m always having to worry about being taken down. I still am trying to get comfortable on the ground. It’s just not a place I like to be.

I have to ask…how did you come by the nickname “The Panda”? For some reason I cannot see you blissfully chewing bamboo in a dense Chinese forest.

Well If bamboo is like Bean sprouts then I’m for sure a Panda. I got the name “The Panda” for being big fat and fluffy. Haha just kidding. I actually fought in China in January of 2009. I used to come out to fights as “Lambchop”. For some reason the promoter didn’t like it so they announced me as The Panda. Everybody loved it. Everywhere I went, I kept hearing “PANDA, PANDA”. It was really cool. I was always told whatever nickname you are given in Asia, thats what you go by. It’s an honor for me to go by “The Panda”.

I noticed you keep a very busy fight schedule. How do you maintain your condition and stay injury free with such a busy fight schedule?

I hired a Personal trainer (Keith Hare) that has been busting my butt and getting me into good fight shape. I know that injuries come and go. I have to listen to my body. Some days my body tells me that it’s not going to do anything. If your body is saying “no”, it means “NO”. I also think being active in sports most my life, I got used to being busy all the time and I just keep pushing to keep that life style.

As a super heavyweight what do you see as your best strength even among other super heavy weights?

I think that my best strength at super heavyweight is my calmness. I’m all smiles and laughs even in a fight. I have had my face getting pounded in an MMA fight with elbows, and they were really good elbows. So I had to compliment him and said “Great Elbows”. I told him as he was hitting me with another elbow. He said  “Huh thanks” and threw another one. We are pretty good friends now.

As a 4-year professional fighter what was the most important thing you learned from being a professional?

That if you’re not ready to fight at all times somebody will take your chocolate chip cookies and run away. Be Prepared to fight all types of fighters. You can’t be ready to fight someone that’s just a striker, and then Bam you’re fighting a grappler. You got to be ready for it all. Being a professional is a business. It’s business and TOTALLY FUN.

Since you have a United States title match coming up soon at WCK Muay Thai what would you regard as your greatest strength without giving away too much information?

HAHA, don’t expect to see the same fighter that you saw in Bellator. Plan on it being a war. I have seen Rick fight in the past.

What would you like to accomplish in the super heavyweight  division in Muay Thai?

That’s probably the easiest question in the world. I want to fight for and win the WBC Muay Thai World Title. I want to be the best fat kid on the block. I want everybody wanting to fight me because I’m the best and they want to beat the best.

Steven Banks begins his ring walk

Do you prefer full Muay Thai rules to K-1 style rules?

I love them both. I like Muay thai Rules a little bit better because you get to clinch and elbow.

I understand you actually walk around heavier than your fighting weight of 265. How big are you when you are not preparing for a fight?

If  I’m not fighting and don’t have a fight coming up. I usually walk around at around 290. I’m trying to get down to around 250 or so but I love to eat.

How does your diet change leading up to the fight?

I have to watch what I eat all the time. I’m the type of guy that will go to a buffet every chance I get. I love food and food loves me.  I’m try to make sure that I’m eating enough that I’m not gonna be starving later on in the day. I never really cared for junk food. I love eating fruits and veggies. Your parents always tell you to eat all your veggies and fruit. But don’t eat the whole bag.

Leading up to your WCK Muay Thai event what can you tell fans to expect from the super heavyweight title fight and from The Panda?

What to expect…haha…no cuddling. No flying armbars…maybe a off the top rope drop kick. I hope that everybody comes out and expects a total war. I know that Rick Cheek is gonna bring it and I know that I will bring it. And no we are not talking about bringing dessert. Unless you want to bring a Carrot Cake…yum yum.

Much thanks to Steven Banks for the interview which I have to say was one of the more entertaining interviews I’ve ever had.  You can keep up with Steven Banks on his official site.

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~ by fatsoking on July 15, 2010.

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