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POAI SUGANUMA INTERVIEW

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  • braddah shano
    POAI SUGANUMA INTERVIEW http://www.kakuto.com/article.php?sid=1652&thold=0 Photo by http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/ Tom Melesky took a 4 hour train trip away
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 25, 2006
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      POAI SUGANUMA INTERVIEW
       
       
      Tom Melesky took a 4 hour train trip away from Tokyo to the more remote Shizuoka to meet up with Hawaiian fighter Poai Suganuma. Friendly and quick to joke, the fighter from Twist talks about his meteoric rise in the fight game, going from wrestler with zero MMA experience to finalist for the heavyweight King of Pancrase title after just 4 fights. Obviously cut from a different mold than the usual fighter, Suganuma who has a computer science degree and pays his bills as a singer opens up with his thoughts on Japan , his opponents so far, his strategy going into his fight with Kestutis Arbocius and much more.


       
      Tom Melesky: Ok have you bought the 2 bottles of Tequila, 4 limes, 1 bottle of salt… anchovies, 3 D batteries? (joke from previous interview check here)
      Poai Suganuma: (Laughs) actually I forgot the anchovies, other than that yeah I got my list done.
       
      TM: After your 4th professional match, you’re in the finals for the heavyweight KOP. PS: Did you imagine that you’d make it so far so quickly?
      PS: No I never imagined it. To be honest, I never thought past the next fight.
       
      TM: Would you say Sakuragi has been your toughest challenge to date?
      PS: No I would have to that to be (Ryuta) Noji
       
      TM: Oh really, I had heard at least Sakuragi gave you a few tense moments, in the beginning before you managed to TKO him. What were you thinking during the match? How did you rally yourself to come back?
      PS: Actually the only think that was going through my mind was “Come here!” (waving fist) (laughs)
       
      TM: By the way how’s your friend’s restaurant? Does he take credit for bringing you into Japan ?
      PS: Um actually, the restaurant that I’m usually is a friend of mine’s but what I meant in answering your question was that I met my friend AT the restaurant that brought me into martial arts. No he doesn’t take credit for it, he’s actually kind of happy that I got so serious into it.
       
      TM: What do your friends and family back home think about your new fighting career?
      PS: Um most of them are pretty thrilled actually though my grandmother and mother didn’t know about it until January when I went home. That was a pretty awkward situation because a lot of people that worked with them did know about it, but they didn’t.
       
      TM: OK so it’s a “why didn’t you tell me…” (situation)
      PS: Right.
       
      TM: “You have this great computer science career going on and….”
      PS: Um…I had one or two opportunities that I might have been able to follow up on. Unfortunately my mother and my grandmother both knew about the opportunities so I get the,”Why aren’t you using your head?” I’m like,” Occasionally, I do use it!” (Laughs) “when the rules allow it…”(laughs)

      TM: (laughing) Are any of them coming to watch the finals?
      PS: No, if they do it’s a big surprise
       
      TM: You said you were a high school wrestling champion.
      PS: Right
       
      TM: How long did it take for you to get used to fighting from your back?
      PS: Ahhhh. I’m still not entirely comfortable with that. I mean, I don’t panic like I originally did. I’d still much rather be on top.
       
      TM: In you second fight though, you did have (your opponent) in a triangle choke. I guess you actually punched him from the choke to win. (He finished that fight with strikes, while holding him in the choke)
      PS: But I started off in the mount so I was already in control when I went to my back, so that was the difference, I guess.
       
      TM: On top of your wrestling skills, where did you develop such fast hands? Your last two fights were finished by a KO and a TKO. I don’t know if you have any boxing experience, but you seem to be able to finish a fight pretty well.
      PS: Um….I like to hit things? (laughs)
       
      TM: (laughing) Do you have any older brothers? Or is it just from your training at Twist?
      PS: Yeah I’d have to say so.
       
      TM: Have you been researching your opponent for the finals? What do you know about Kestutis Arbocius?
      PS: I have one of his fights on tape and I’ve been watching that. And I went to his last fight. So, yes I’ve been researching it.
       
      TM: Are you adjusting your training for him or preparing any differently from your past 4 opponents?
      PS: Well, I really don’t have that much experience so I’m slowly learning things gradually anyway. It’s just that I’m trying to learn things that will help me in the situations I might come up against with this opponent.
       
      TM: I’m just wondering, are you going to be going for that stand-up KO knowing he’s a Shidokan champ?
      PS: I want to, but my coach will be yelling at me to take him down, so we’ll just see how it goes.
       
      TM: It’s fun to get the standing KO, I know (laughs) What do you think drove you to be such a competitor from the start?
      PS: Growing up watching Rocky, Karate Kid?
       
      TM: So your inspiration came from the movies, is what you’re saying?
      PS: Well that and my father was a wrestler and a very competitive person. He once beat the Pan-American Games champ in a tournament so he was a pretty good wrestler and back then it wasn’t just wrestling, it was catch-as-catch can. So I grew up listening to stories of his wins and watching these movies….
       
      TM: When you say catch-as-catch-can you mean submission catch wrestling?
      PS: Right.
       
      TM: Did you do folkstyle wrestling?
      PS: Yes.
       
      TM: I wrestled in high school too, that’s why I know.
      PS: (laughs)
       
      TM: Who do you credit most for developing your MMA fighting?
      PS: Wow that’s a difficult question. I’d have to say, purely skill-wise, I’d have to say it’s the people I train with.
       
      TM: But a lot of your instincts from wrestling really contributed?
      PS: Yeah, it really carried on into martial arts.
       
      TM: Has the membership at TWIST gone up since your success? Has the word gotten out and more people joined?
      PS: To be honest, a lot of people in Shizuoka don’t know. No big deal I guess, but it does help if people come in and you can say,” Oh he fought in Shooto and he’s a Pancrase fighter” so it does help.
       
      TM: Does TWIST have a website?
      PS: Well, it does have a blog. I’ll email it to you.
       
      TM: Are you still playing the ukelele?
      PS: Yes often, In fact yesterday I went to a party and played for over an hour.
       
      TM: How long have you been playing?
      PS: I guess most kids in Hawaii start when they’re in elementary school and I played throughout middle school and until the first year of high school. And actually I stopped playing after that and I hadn’t played until I came to Japan .
       
      TM: Now everybody loves it? It’s a hit at the parties?
      PS: Yeah. But they had to get me drunk the first time I played.
       
      TM: Do you manage to get back to Hawaii regularly?
      PS: Not as much as I’d like to, but I think and average of  2-3 times a year.
       
      TM: That’s not too bad. What do you miss the most?
      PS: Well, in the winter it’s the weather. (laughs) And in the summer it’s the clothes. You get weird looks when you walk around with no shirt on in Japan .
       
      TM: That’s true. That’s a good point. I always miss those um…I don’t know why. They’re the worst things for you: ABC spam musubi. It’s terrible, but every time I go to Hawaii I have it.
      PS: It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s good
       
      TM: How is your Japanese coming along?
      PS: It’s alright. I can hold a conversation with most people so that’s a plus.
       
      TM: Back to Twist, who else from Twist should we keep an eye out for?
      PS: Well, the coach Takefumi Hanai. I think he’s ranked #3 in KOTC, but he’s had two fights that were cancelled in the last year. I don’t know why. So…I don’t know if his career is going to continue or not. He’s thinking of retiring. He’s 33.
       
      TM: He fights in KOTC, but not in Shooto? It seems…I don’t want to put anyone’s choices down, but it seems a way to travel when there’s a fight at your back door.
      PS: Well I’ve never really talked to him about this, but I think it’s more the fact that he wants a free trip to America .
       
      TM: Oh. Ok fair enough.
      PS: He likes traveling. He’s really good in English, so it makes sense.
       
      TM: Sure. Is there anything you don’t like about Japan ?
      PS: I constantly hit my head on the top of door frames. (Tom can empathize) The gyms here are almost nonexistent as far as weights go.
       
      TM: Not in the public sports centers?
      PS: Well it’s Shizuoka , not Tokyo so I go to a city gym because actually from all the gyms I’ve seen, it has the most free-weights. There’s a sports center right up the road, but it has air resistance (weight machines) and I’m not really into that.
       
      TM: Yeah it’s not a constant resistance. How much do you put up benching?
      PS: If I’m on it and I’m training every day….pounds or kilos?
       
      TM: Let’s say pounds because I think a lot of Americans read this.
      PS: I’d say on average, as a max, 350-360, but right now I’d be lucky if could put up 330.
       
      TM: Your name, Poai, is that native Hawaiian?
      PS: Yeah it’s Hawaiian, it’s actually short for Nali’iPoaimoku
       
      TM: And what does that mean?
      PS: Poai itself just means “around” or “circle” but Nali’iPoaimoku actually means the “chiefs that circled the island or walked around the island.”
       
      TM: Really?
      PS: Well, there’s actually a story behind it. Hawaiians were a warlike people there were several different tribes. They had war for 8-9 months a year. But then for three months a year they worshipped a single god, Lono. And during this time, there was no war. So all the chiefs from all the tribes would get together. They would carry symbol of Lono. They would walk around the island to let everyone know it was now peacetime.
       
      TM: Wow.
      PS: So that’s what my name symbolizes.
       
      TM: Great, I love that. I also love the fact that you’re a fighter with this name.
      PS: (laughs)  
       
      TM: After a tough day of training, how do you unwind?
      PS: Play ukulele at the restaurant I usually hang out at, eat for free, and relax.
       
      TM: You still work at the restaurant now?
      PS: I wouldn’t really call it working. When they cater, I’ll go and help, play music. If I go in and it’s busy, I’ll play music for the customers.
       
      TM: At this point, do you need to work semi-full time as well as train?
      PS: I’m barely making it by, but between working at the restaurant, wedding singing…..
       
      TM: Wedding singing!??! Get out!
      PS: Yeah, I’m doing alright. I’m scraping by, but I’m not calling anybody for money.
       
      TM: Anyone you’d like to thank, sponsors or anyone?
      PS: I’m currently sponsored by Bull Terrier and Reversal is interested in me. They gave me my last…..what is it…spots, in my last fight.


       


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    • Brother Shane
      POAI SUGANUMA INTERVIEW Photo by http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/ Tom Melesky took a 4 hour train trip away from Tokyo to the more remote Shizuoka to meet up
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 28, 2007
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        POAI SUGANUMA INTERVIEW
         
        Tom Melesky took a 4 hour train trip away from Tokyo to the more remote Shizuoka to meet up with Hawaiian fighter Poai Suganuma. Friendly and quick to joke, the fighter from Twist talks about his meteoric rise in the fight game, going from wrestler with zero MMA experience to finalist for the heavyweight King of Pancrase title after just 4 fights. Obviously cut from a different mold than the usual fighter, Suganuma who has a computer science degree and pays his bills as a singer opens up with his thoughts on Japan , his opponents so far, his strategy going into his fight with Kestutis Arbocius and much more.

        Tom Melesky: Ok have you bought the 2 bottles of Tequila, 4 limes, 1 bottle of salt… anchovies, 3 D batteries? (joke from previous interview check here)
        Poai Suganuma: (Laughs) actually I forgot the anchovies, other than that yeah I got my list done.
         
        TM: After your 4th professional match, you’re in the finals for the heavyweight KOP. PS: Did you imagine that you’d make it so far so quickly?
        PS: No I never imagined it. To be honest, I never thought past the next fight.
         
        TM: Would you say Sakuragi has been your toughest challenge to date?
        PS: No I would have to that to be (Ryuta) Noji
         
        TM: Oh really, I had heard at least Sakuragi gave you a few tense moments, in the beginning before you managed to TKO him. What were you thinking during the match? How did you rally yourself to come back?
        PS: Actually the only think that was going through my mind was “Come here!” (waving fist) (laughs)
         
        TM: By the way how’s your friend’s restaurant? Does he take credit for bringing you into Japan ?
        PS: Um actually, the restaurant that I’m usually is a friend of mine’s but what I meant in answering your question was that I met my friend AT the restaurant that brought me into martial arts. No he doesn’t take credit for it, he’s actually kind of happy that I got so serious into it.
         
        TM: What do your friends and family back home think about your new fighting career?
        PS: Um most of them are pretty thrilled actually though my grandmother and mother didn’t know about it until January when I went home. That was a pretty awkward situation because a lot of people that worked with them did know about it, but they didn’t.
         
        TM: OK so it’s a “why didn’t you tell me…” (situation)
        PS: Right.
         
        TM: “You have this great computer science career going on and….”
        PS: Um…I had one or two opportunities that I might have been able to follow up on. Unfortunately my mother and my grandmother both knew about the opportunities so I get the,”Why aren’t you using your head?” I’m like,” Occasionally, I do use it!” (Laughs) “when the rules allow it…”(laughs)

        TM: (laughing) Are any of them coming to watch the finals?
        PS: No, if they do it’s a big surprise
         
        TM: You said you were a high school wrestling champion.
        PS: Right
         
        TM: How long did it take for you to get used to fighting from your back?
        PS: Ahhhh. I’m still not entirely comfortable with that. I mean, I don’t panic like I originally did. I’d still much rather be on top.
         
        TM: In you second fight though, you did have (your opponent) in a triangle choke. I guess you actually punched him from the choke to win. (He finished that fight with strikes, while holding him in the choke)
        PS: But I started off in the mount so I was already in control when I went to my back, so that was the difference, I guess.
         
        TM: On top of your wrestling skills, where did you develop such fast hands? Your last two fights were finished by a KO and a TKO. I don’t know if you have any boxing experience, but you seem to be able to finish a fight pretty well.
        PS: Um….I like to hit things? (laughs)
         
        TM: (laughing) Do you have any older brothers? Or is it just from your training at Twist?
        PS: Yeah I’d have to say so.
         
        TM: Have you been researching your opponent for the finals? What do you know about Kestutis Arbocius?
        PS: I have one of his fights on tape and I’ve been watching that. And I went to his last fight. So, yes I’ve been researching it.
         
        TM: Are you adjusting your training for him or preparing any differently from your past 4 opponents?
        PS: Well, I really don’t have that much experience so I’m slowly learning things gradually anyway. It’s just that I’m trying to learn things that will help me in the situations I might come up against with this opponent.
         
        TM: I’m just wondering, are you going to be going for that stand-up KO knowing he’s a Shidokan champ?
        PS: I want to, but my coach will be yelling at me to take him down, so we’ll just see how it goes.
         
        TM: It’s fun to get the standing KO, I know (laughs) What do you think drove you to be such a competitor from the start?
        PS: Growing up watching Rocky, Karate Kid?
         
        TM: So your inspiration came from the movies, is what you’re saying?
        PS: Well that and my father was a wrestler and a very competitive person. He once beat the Pan-American Games champ in a tournament so he was a pretty good wrestler and back then it wasn’t just wrestling, it was catch-as-catch can. So I grew up listening to stories of his wins and watching these movies….
         
        TM: When you say catch-as-catch-can you mean submission catch wrestling?
        PS: Right.
         
        TM: Did you do folkstyle wrestling?
        PS: Yes.
         
        TM: I wrestled in high school too, that’s why I know.
        PS: (laughs)
         
        TM: Who do you credit most for developing your MMA fighting?
        PS: Wow that’s a difficult question. I’d have to say, purely skill-wise, I’d have to say it’s the people I train with.
         
        TM: But a lot of your instincts from wrestling really contributed?
        PS: Yeah, it really carried on into martial arts.
         
        TM: Has the membership at TWIST gone up since your success? Has the word gotten out and more people joined?
        PS: To be honest, a lot of people in Shizuoka don’t know. No big deal I guess, but it does help if people come in and you can say,” Oh he fought in Shooto and he’s a Pancrase fighter” so it does help.
         
        TM: Does TWIST have a website?
        PS: Well, it does have a blog. I’ll email it to you.
         
        TM: Are you still playing the ukelele?
        PS: Yes often, In fact yesterday I went to a party and played for over an hour.
         
        TM: How long have you been playing?
        PS: I guess most kids in Hawaii start when they’re in elementary school and I played throughout middle school and until the first year of high school. And actually I stopped playing after that and I hadn’t played until I came to Japan .
         
        TM: Now everybody loves it? It’s a hit at the parties?
        PS: Yeah. But they had to get me drunk the first time I played.
         
        TM: Do you manage to get back to Hawaii regularly?
        PS: Not as much as I’d like to, but I think and average of  2-3 times a year.
         
        TM: That’s not too bad. What do you miss the most?
        PS: Well, in the winter it’s the weather. (laughs) And in the summer it’s the clothes. You get weird looks when you walk around with no shirt on in Japan .
         
        TM: That’s true. That’s a good point. I always miss those um…I don’t know why. They’re the worst things for you: ABC spam musubi. It’s terrible, but every time I go to Hawaii I have it.
        PS: It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s good
         
        TM: How is your Japanese coming along?
        PS: It’s alright. I can hold a conversation with most people so that’s a plus.
         
        TM: Back to Twist, who else from Twist should we keep an eye out for?
        PS: Well, the coach Takefumi Hanai. I think he’s ranked #3 in KOTC, but he’s had two fights that were cancelled in the last year. I don’t know why. So…I don’t know if his career is going to continue or not. He’s thinking of retiring. He’s 33.
         
        TM: He fights in KOTC, but not in Shooto? It seems…I don’t want to put anyone’s choices down, but it seems a way to travel when there’s a fight at your back door.
        PS: Well I’ve never really talked to him about this, but I think it’s more the fact that he wants a free trip to America .
         
        TM: Oh. Ok fair enough.
        PS: He likes traveling. He’s really good in English, so it makes sense.
         
        TM: Sure. Is there anything you don’t like about Japan ?
        PS: I constantly hit my head on the top of door frames. (Tom can empathize) The gyms here are almost nonexistent as far as weights go.
         
        TM: Not in the public sports centers?
        PS: Well it’s Shizuoka , not Tokyo so I go to a city gym because actually from all the gyms I’ve seen, it has the most free-weights. There’s a sports center right up the road, but it has air resistance (weight machines) and I’m not really into that.
         
        TM: Yeah it’s not a constant resistance. How much do you put up benching?
        PS: If I’m on it and I’m training every day….pounds or kilos?
         
        TM: Let’s say pounds because I think a lot of Americans read this.
        PS: I’d say on average, as a max, 350-360, but right now I’d be lucky if could put up 330.
         
        TM: Your name, Poai, is that native Hawaiian?
        PS: Yeah it’s Hawaiian, it’s actually short for Nali’iPoaimoku
         
        TM: And what does that mean?
        PS: Poai itself just means “around” or “circle” but Nali’iPoaimoku actually means the “chiefs that circled the island or walked around the island.”
         
        TM: Really?
        PS: Well, there’s actually a story behind it. Hawaiians were a warlike people there were several different tribes. They had war for 8-9 months a year. But then for three months a year they worshipped a single god, Lono. And during this time, there was no war. So all the chiefs from all the tribes would get together. They would carry symbol of Lono. They would walk around the island to let everyone know it was now peacetime.
         
        TM: Wow.
        PS: So that’s what my name symbolizes.
         
        TM: Great, I love that. I also love the fact that you’re a fighter with this name.
        PS: (laughs)  
         
        TM: After a tough day of training, how do you unwind?
        PS: Play ukulele at the restaurant I usually hang out at, eat for free, and relax.
         
        TM: You still work at the restaurant now?
        PS: I wouldn’t really call it working. When they cater, I’ll go and help, play music. If I go in and it’s busy, I’ll play music for the customers.
         
        TM: At this point, do you need to work semi-full time as well as train?
        PS: I’m barely making it by, but between working at the restaurant, wedding singing…..
         
        TM: Wedding singing!??! Get out!
        PS: Yeah, I’m doing alright. I’m scraping by, but I’m not calling anybody for money.
         
        TM: Anyone you’d like to thank, sponsors or anyone?
        PS: I’m currently sponsored by Bull Terrier and Reversal is interested in me. They gave me my last…..what is it…spots, in my last fight.


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