Rua ‘Damage’ Druce is a well known and respected Muay Thai fighter from Wellington, who trains at MTI gym under Trainer Mark Hampton.
His recent fight was in a 4-Man Muay Thai elimination tournament in Fight Sports Night 2, Christchurch, March 13, 2010. Rua won the tournament by split decision fighting his final opponent Nick Taylor.
We decided to catch up with Rua to get a little inside information about the Wellington fighter and his fighting background.
NZF: Tell us a bit about yourself Rua.
RD: I’m 26 years old and was born and raised in Newtown in the capital city. I’ve lived in Wellington most of my life, it’s the place to be, I don’t want to live any where else.
My mum is New Zealand European and my dad was born in Apia Samoa. He immigrated to New Zealand in the early 70’s.
I was in bilingual classes throughout my school years which were focused on cultural aspects as well as main stream subjects. I left school at 16.
When I was growing up, boxing was big in our area. I watched a lot of boxing and old school martial arts flicks like Enter the Dragon, Drunken Master; stuff like that which had a big influence on me.
NZF: Tell us about your fighting background.
RD: I started training Muay Thai under Mark Hampton and Jonny “Miracle Man” Williams at VUW Kickboxing in 2005. Since then the clubs had taken training to the next level and is now known as MTI Wellington.
Somewhere along the way I picked up BJJ & MMA and started training under Brian Morris who started The Combat Room. I currently train BJJ under Vanderson Pires at the Combat Room.
I have always been interested in martial arts and boxing but never trained until I started Muay Thai.
I had my first fight in 2005, three months after I started training. I’ve had 18 fights in total under various rules with 6 won by way of KO.
There are lots of reasons why fighting appeals to me. The adrenaline rush you get from competing, the high stakes with the possibility of getting hurt or knocked out are what makes the highs and lows of fighting different than other sports.
It’s the discipline you develop through training. Watching your self master skills in training and be able to use them in a fight.
NZF: What are your current record/titles?
RD: I hold the TBA New Zealand Super Middleweight title. My Muay Thai record is 13-2 and MMA 1-0.
NZF: What you do for a job and how do you keep balance between work and being a fighter?
RD: I’m a Constable in the General Duties Branch of the Police in Lower Hutt. I’ve been on the street for about two years.
It can be difficult to eat the right food and make it to training when you work shifts but if you really want to do something you just do what ever it takes to make it happen.
NZF: What was it like getting into the ring for your first fight?
RD: It was great. I was really nervous. I couldn’t hear my corner, even though they were shouting at me it took a few fights to calm things down and get the body to do what I wanted it to do.
NZF: What has been your career highlight so far?
RD:Winning the Super Middleweight title.
NZF: What’s your pre-fight training consist of?
RD: I like to have a 6 week build up to a fight. It usually consists of training in the weights room, working on strength at the beginning and adding in more technique and cardio as the fight approaches.
I try and kept my diet over those 6 weeks clean and cut out the alcohol which is never fun.
NZF: How do you prepare mentally for a fight?
RD: Visualising the fight from beginning to end puts me in the right state of mind. I try and focus on every punch, kick, knee and elbow I’m going to throw so by the time I get in the ring I feel like I know what’s going to happen.
NZF: What’s your take on having sex before a fight?
RD: You need a clear head to fight, focusing only of the fight, during that time it helps if there are no distractions.
NZF: From the moment you get to the changing rooms to the moment the fight starts, in that window of time do you have a particular routine you follow?
RD: Yeah I watch my team mates fight, I find it relaxing. Then find somewhere quiet and go to sleep listening to my ipod until its show time.
NZF: Any aspirations or plans for the future?
RD: There are many talented guys in the game. Some of them I haven’t fought, guys like Richie ‘Hardcore’ I want to see how I’d do against the best. At the moment I’m enjoying the fighter lifestyle so I’ll keep competing; chasing a professional fighting career.
NZF: Any advice for the youth or those wishing to get into the ring?
RD: Yeah go for it! You’ll learn a lot about yourself through competing. As a fighter you’ll develop so many life skills; discipline, confidence and perseverance to name a few.