Artem Levin – The Lion Roars

By Mike LNg

Artem Levin with WMC Intercontinental Belt

Artem “The Lion” Levin is a fast rising star from Prokopyevsk, Russia in the supermiddle weight division. Artem has captured both the WMC Intercontinetal Championship and the Euorpean Muay Thai Federation championship in a 6-year career that has thus far had an upward trajectory along its arc. Artem Levin also won the qualifying fights for Contender Asia Season 2 in 2008.  I caught up with Artem Levin as he is making preparations to head to the inaugural SportAccord Combat Games to be held in Beijing Chin as Russia’s representative at 76kg.

Question:  Often times Thaiboxers begin Muay Thai from other martial arts. Did you start in other martial arts before Muay Thai?

Answer: No. I’ve always been an active child and have been fond of sports always: soccer, basketball, tennis. But Muay Thai has been my first love in the martial arts world. I started training in Muay Thai at the age of 10 and up to this day I’m opening up new vistas in it.

What made you decide to choose Muay Thai over other combat sports?

Muay Thai is a comprehensive type of combat sports. The sport is the most practical for real fights besides MMA, that’s why my choice is Muay Thai. I was born in a small hick town, and like any young boy I intended to stick up for myself, to face off hooligans and to protect my family – that was the main motivation for me to come to the Muay Thai gym.

There seems to be many very good and high level Thaiboxers coming from Eastern Europe such as Dmitri Shakuta, Pavel Kharchenko and Ivan Grigoriev among others. What is it about Russia and other Eastern European countries that seems to produce so many good Thaiboxers?

Yes, I can answer this. There are many good fighters of different levels in Russia, including those who can fight for top titles. But there is a problem: we haven’t got a promoter to lead a boxer on European or international levels therefore the best Russian fighters are still lingering in obscurity.

From the many wins you have most of your knockouts have been produced with a left high knee strike. What have you done to make this one technique so effective?

I can’t say I make special exercises to sharpen the technique or my other skills are worse somehow. It occurs that opponents are taken in on the knee strike. An opponent takes a hit he doesn’t see, and the left knee is swift. It would seem the left knee strike can control the fight, and it causes  knockouts in a second.

You haven’t lost often in Muay Thai except one high profile loss against Yodsaenklai Fairtex. Have you since adapted your style since this fight?

Just the other way around: I had tried to change my style before the bout versus Yodsaenklai. I thought I would prepare myself specifically, but became bound, and began to work in another way, and thus the change resulted in the loss.

I understand you are now preparing for the SportAccord to be held in Beijing, China. How does your preparation for the SportAccord differ from your usual training?

Foremost, this is amateur competition. The judges evaluate other moments (compared to professional fights) and accordingly there is the other task – to score, to make more hits ignoring brunt, more moves, more kicks.

You are right now only 24 years yet have compiled a fight record of 40+ fights. Is it typical for Russian Thaiboxers to compile such a big fight record so fast?

Well, firstly, I’m 23. )) I can’t speak for all, but you never can tell whether a fighter is experienced by reference to a fight record only. Get a look at the quality of opponents, not quantity of fights in a record. I know many fighters with a high record, but with a low level of opponents, because they are participating in local events against easy opponents. It results in no growth of the fighter’s level.

For a super middleweight Thaiboxer you are unusually tall at 6’3″. Do you think you will gain weight and go to a heavier weight class?

Yes, I will participate in this year’s national championship at 81 kg. And I plan to gain more weight further.

Artem Connects with the High Kick

You’ve revenged most of your professional losses in Muay Thai. Who else would you like a rematch against?

Of cource, I’m eager to rematch Yodsaenklai. I’ll get an opportunity in the World Combat Games, and I hope, I’ll win it.

Of all your fights who has been the hardest opponent and why?

Alexander Stetsurenko. He has a very unconventional style. He’s uncomplaining and takes hits while still moving forward – that is exhausting. The tactic is frustrating even if it damages himself.

Few people know that you’ve also done international boxing professionally. What made you decide to try boxing?

I have a large amateur boxing record. I’ve been always attracted to boxing. And I plan to continue competing in boxing and cherish the ambition to become a pro boxer.

It has been some time since fans have been able to see you fight internationally. When can we expect to see you back in front of the world audience?

Well, it doesn’t depend on me. I’m waiting for suggestions and I’m willing to fight anyone. Currently we are trying to get into It’s Showtime or K-1. And as soon as I get matched with the champions, all the asses are kicked and all the aces are knocked out.

Having accomplished so much at a young age in Muay Thai what other goals do you have in Muay Thai?

The WMC World champion. And to get fights on the world’s best arenas.

Because your schedule for SportAccord you will not be fighting Dmitry Valent for the WKN world title. Will this match be rescheduled?

I’ve read about the match on the web recently. Nobody contacted me and no suggestions were received. Naturally, if I come back from the games at the 6th of September, then I can’t take the fight planned on the 11th of September.

Many European fighters participate on it’s Show Time. Do you have any interest in participating in It’s Show Time?

Yes, I’ve noticed that already. Currently we are trying to contact It’s Showtime. I’d appreciate help in matchmaking. I’m ready to fight anyone and to prove the right to win top titles.

The Lion Rips Shots to the Body

Do you prefer K-1 rules or Muay Thai rules?

There is no a preference for me. I’m comfortable at both.

Having fought and trained in Muay Thai in Thailand what is different about the Thai method of training and fighting?

A greater emphasis is put on clinching and kicking and there is no prioritizing on hand strikes in Thailand. There are no sparring because in Thailand Thaiboxers have so much fights they don’t spar during workouts. Otherwise, injuries won’t mend and athletes cannot recover between fights.

Where would you like most to visit and fight next in the world?

America and Japan. I like to travel much, and I want to visit as many countries as possible on all the continents to be really intercontinental.

For those of us outside of Russia which Russian Thaiboxers can we look forward to seeing in the future?

No need to name them. I’d rather say that there are many fighters and you will know their names soon.

For all your new and old fans, do you have any message to them?

Thanks a million for watching my fights and for supporting me. That strengthens me. I’ll make more fair and distinguished fights with the help. Thank you very much. Best regards, Artem Levin.

Thanks very much to Artem Levin for granting this interview and big thanks to Julia Korkina for her translation skills.  You can keep up to date on the latest news of Artem Levin at his official site. Check out Artem’s highlight reel below.

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~ by fatsoking on July 27, 2010.

3 Responses to “Artem Levin – The Lion Roars”

  1. that was the most exciting highlight real i’ve watched in awhile haha. tons of talent at such a young age, that’s awesome.

    • I agree! I want to more stuff with eastern Europe fighters. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can talk to anohter nak muay from that region.

  2. artim levin should lift some weights so he could develope some extra heavy hands when he hits, all will crumble and fall to the floor .
    that yod chump was walking through most of artim attacks,
    artim needs stopping power in any hit he makes.

    artem needs stronger and more well developed clench moves such as spin throws into knee. over and under collar ties into throws with kicks going down..

    artim was gassing at the first round against yot sang kline …you could see it in his face at the end of the first round ..artim needs wind sprints and weight training togeather to make him stronger and more explosive ..

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