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Joseph Valtellini: The Kickboxer as Artist – Part Two



joevThis is part two of the interview.  It contains the same opening you can skip ahead to Part Two if you are reading them consecutively.

When you talk with Joseph Valtellini, you can hear him smile through the telephone. Especially when talking about kickboxing and his upcoming welterweight title fight at Glory 17 against newly crowned champion Marc De Bonte. He is passionate about the sport and has a burning desire to be a champion. That same passion comes out when he talks about the artistic side of kickboxing. He finds the beauty within the violence of the knockout.

During his fights with Glory, commentator Duke Roufus has compared Valtellini to a young Oscar De La Hoya, Giorgio Petrosyan and Arturo Gatti. The De La Hoya comparison was in reference to the quality of opponents that he has faced so far in his young career. The Petrosyan one referred to his defensive prowess and the Gatti one came due to his willingness to stand and fight. Gatti and Petrosyan are two very different fighters, but in ways, Valtellini has shown elements of both of their styles in his fights.

Like any artist Joseph works at his craft. For him and his coaches it starts with the basics.

“We are huge on the basics. They are one of the biggest reasons I have been so successful in my career. I am a big believer in the basics. I’m not one of these people that get caught up in the new trends. I really want to go with what has been the most successful way of doing things. My strength coach is the same way, I see so many strength coaches doing these new types of exercises in training. My coaches are focused on the basics…All of the best fighters have a strong foundation built on the basics so we have been big of the basics my whole career.”

This focus on the basics is something you see from the great artists in all art forms. They all have that foundation to build from. With a deeper understanding of the basics the further they can take themselves within their art form. Joseph is looking to take himself to the top of the kickboxing world.

He works hard at the basics despite a schedule that includes a full-time job as a Physical Education teacher for special needs children, as well as training for his upcoming title fight on June 21st.

Here are some of his thoughts about the title fight and his opponent Marc De Bonte at Glory 17:

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to fight for the Glory welterweight title…When Marc De Bonte was fighting Karapet (Karapetyan) Twitter kind of blew up with the support of the fans from all over the world. They were saying that the belt should be with either myself or Nieky (Holzken). I was very thankful to all the fans and their support and getting it out there… I know it is a quick turnover for De Bonte…They asked him in his post-fight interview if he would fight me and right away he accepted. Thanks to Marc for accepting the fight and to the fans for helping me get this chance to make my childhood dream a reality. I am very excited. This is my time.

“Marc De Bonte is a great fighter. He’s very experienced for 24 years old. I think I might be his 100th fight (he will be). So he has that experience behind him but I think when people saw all my previous fights they see the quality, the power and the intensity I bring into the ring…Again, I just have to thank the supporters and fans for being so educated in the sport of kickboxing.”

Joseph is educated in more than just kickboxing. He has a degree from the University of Toronto in Physical Education where he also played Canadian football serving as the kicker and punter until an injury ended his career. It did not end his kickboxing career. It just delayed it.

In part one we looked at some of Joseph Valtellini’s training practices and philosophies.  Like any artist they are the basis for his expressions of his art form.  Not everybody sees the artistry in the ring.  All they see is the violent side of it not understanding the beauty of it.  For a fighter it is different.  It is their art.

In part two we will look at some his thoughts on the art form that is kickboxing. Part Two:

One thing Joseph understands about the sport of kickboxing is the need for fans. For the sport to continue to grow it has to draw in fans. One thing that draws them in is exciting finishes. Everyone of his fights in Glory have ended definitively, and that is not a coincidence.

“That is how we train…I look at a decision almost as a loss. I never really want it….. my first six professional fights were all finishes. The first time I went to the 5th round I was upset with myself I did not even look happy when I won. I was thinking it’s so much better to knock these guys out in the first few rounds. I’ve always had that mentality.

“There is also the entertainment value. One of our main goals as fighters and Glory is to promote the sport in North America…To help it grow I think it takes guys who want to put it out there and make people want to come back and watch. Again I think it needs exciting fights to do that and it starts with exciting fighters…I relate it to the UFC with Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin that brought people to the sport.

“Glory needs fights like that. I was not happy with the outcome of my fight with Nieky Holzken but at least people were excited by that fight…People were calling it fight of the year and that is what this sport needs. Two fighters to go out there and fight, entertain a crowd and keep them hooked to the sport.”

Their fight was one of the best last year. The possibility of a rematch later this year has many fans excited. Their first battle was a part of a four man tournament. To face Holzken he first had to defeat the extremely unorthodox Raymond Daniels. Joseph talks a little about preparing for facing two very different fighters on the same night.

“I knew I was fighting Daniels first and my coach Paul Minhas put together the strategy to make sure we got through that first fight. There are not many people who fight like Daniels. So, a lot of my focus in training camp was geared towards fighting someone with a style like Raymond Daniels. The way we looked at Nieky Holzken was he had a more traditional kickboxing style. So, we really focused on preparing for that different style of Daniels.

“That being said, no matter who I fight they are human like everybody else.  The way I have been trained is to learn as the fight goes on.  I really do not like to go into a fight with too much strategy and kind of blinding myself to what is happening in front of me.  Also, I feel like I like to dictate the fight and make my opponent fight my fight.  So no matter who it is I pull them into my style of fight no matter who it is.”

One of the best examples of that is the Daniels fight. As that fight evolved Joseph continued to negate Daniels’ offense.  He also feels like it is one of his best performances in the ring.

“Raymond Daniels is the one I enjoyed the most because I went through my camp more than usual with a little bit of extra focus on strategy and it worked out perfectly.  It was a perfect application of what we worked on in training and how it played out.”

Perfection is something that comes up throughout Joseph’s career. The pursuit of it has driven many great artists and he is no different. When I asked him what he would be his mythical perfect fight here was his response:

“First of all not to get hit. If I get hit once it is one too many times. I want to have perfect defense. A perfect fight would not be that one punch knockout. That would not be ideal, you would only be in there for a moment. I like the fights that build themselves. I want to defend myself and not get hit but at the same time see a development in the fight. To see the strategy and technique as they evolve in the fight. Where you are using the strategy and techniques to set up the knockout.  

“I think that is the beauty of a knockout. A lot of people see a knockout as something brutal but it’s something that’s actually really beautiful. If you are a martial artist and you think of a knockout you are thinking of technique being perfect.  

“In order to get a knockout you need perfect technique. You need perfect timing. You have to set it up properly. You know when you can set your opponent up to get that knockout that is something that is beautiful.

“I saw a video of UFC fighter Cub Swanson. It was called Beautiful Destruction and that stuck with me. It’s amazing when you do it and get it by setting it up in that perfect way. It is not just something where you go out throw a punch and it is over, but it is the way it happens that makes a knockout a beautiful thing. It is an expression as a martial artist. We are expressing ourselves in the ring through contact but it is still an expression, like a dance.

“My coach has said the reason I do not give you too much information is because a ring is a canvas. If you are an artist you are painting the picture in the ring. Go out and paint your picture. Do what you have to do make it beautiful, to make it a masterpiece through your movement and technique. It is the way you strike, move and set it up that make you the artist of the canvas.”

The other key element to the beautiful knock out is timing. For Joseph it is essential.

“Timing is what allows the knockout to happen. He knows the same punches, the same kicks, the same knees but what separates fighters is timing. You can be the best at hitting pads, and I have seen guys hit pads beautifully but when it comes to fight time they just cannot land anything. They do not know how to set it up, when to throw the strike. Timing is huge and as you progress as a martial artist it becomes more important. At the end of the day everybody knows the same techniques.”

Any artist that performs in front of an audience wants to perform for a hometown crowd. Right now, Joseph does not have that opportunity as kickboxing is illegal in Toronto. He has hope for the future though.

“In Toronto, professional kickboxing is illegal due to some legislation years ago that made it hard to get MMA and kickboxing. We got MMA through the UFC…Glory is the organization to do it if anyone is going to do it. I hope that it comes soon. We are a city filled with fight fans and they are huge supporters. The UFC sells out quickly every time and I know if Glory comes here they will not be let down. The people of Toronto and Ontario will definitely support them.

“It would be a dream come true. I have never gotten to fight at home as a professional and to have that hometown advantage. I would love to have my home crowd cheering for me at some point in my career.”

For now Joseph’s hometown fans will have to be content with watching him on Spike TV or next month’s PPV. He is quick to acknowledge the importance of their role in growing the sport.

“I think the biggest thing for Glory right now has been Spike TV. Glory really sells itself. It is an amazing brand that is built around an action based fighting style. Once people saw the Chicago card they were hooked. I think it is just a matter of people having the opportunity to watch it. Once they see it they get hooked.”

If you are a combat sports fan then kickboxing is easy to love. Glory is geared towards striking action with three rounds that are three minutes long each. It demands that the fighters get to work right away. They are allowed to clinch but have to start throwing knees immediately or they are broken up.

At Glory 17 for their first PPV Joseph will be fighting Marc De Bonte for De Bonte’s welterweight title. Joseph’s Glory career has gotten off to a remarkable start. He was a part of their first Spike TV card from Chicago and now their first PPV. A big reason for that is his exciting fighting style. He also willingly embraces the role of ambassador for the sport he loves.

“My goal, besides being the number one fighter in the world, is to help this sport grow. I am constantly promoting the sport and holding viewing parties in my community that get people hooked on Glory…I want to give back and help the sport that has given me so much. It is also so important to have an organization like Glory who invests in their fighters and helps us grow. We grow and the sport grows at the same time.”

Glory 17 will be their first PPV with the undercard airing on Spike TV. Along with Joseph’s title fight there is also a heavyweight title fight and an eight man middleweight last man standing tournament. It will be an action filled night with some of the best kick boxers in the world painting their masterpieces in the ring. Joseph is looking to finish his holding the Glory championship belt.

Joseph would like to thank: Paul Minhas at Ultimate Martial Arts, Strength and Conditioning coach Costa Kladianos at Tempus Performance Gym, Beast Sports Nutrition, Kimura Wear, Inside Fitness Magazine and Americana MMA. You can follow him on Twitter @BazookaJoeV.

  photo credits – Glory WS

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny