Fran Munoz is without a doubt one of the most unheralded kickboxers at 95 kilos. With wins over former 95 kg kingpin Sahak Parparyan, Munoz has stood in the ring with some of the greatest fighters in the world, including Steve McKinnon, Nathan Corbett, Bruce Guidon, and Ismael Londt. Most recently Munoz fought to a highly protested decision loss over Romania’s Sebastian Ciobanu at SUPERKOMBAT. We caught up with Frank to discuss some of his kickboxing memories and future plan within the sport.
FightSport Asia: Spain isn’t exactly known for it’s kickboxers. How did you get started in the sport, and what made you want to fight professionally?
FM: I was 22 years old when I started kickboxing with former multiple -boxing champion Xavi Moya in Barcelona. After I watched a Remy Bonjasky fight on Eurosport TV ,I absolutely fell in love with the idea of fighting professionally. A few years later Remy became my team mate and actually I fought very often on Eurosport TV myself. My career has been like a dream come true.
FSA: You’ve trained with some of the best fighters in the world-guys like Jerome Lebanner, Remy Bonjasky, Anderson B. Silva, and Hesdy Gerges. What fighter have you enjoyed training with the most?
FM: I’ve enjoined training and learning from all of them,but the one I have a special admiration is Jerome Le Banner. He become like a ´father´ to me´while we where training in Chakuriki,we help each other not only in the gym, but outside it as well. We both were living in a foreign country [Amsterdam] and supported each other as non natives .Jerome is really one of the best fighters in the world, but he is an even greater human been.
FSA: What made you leave Vos Gym for Chakuriki?
FM: After two years training in Vos gym with Ivan Hippolite,I simply need it to look for a new motivation. When I trained in Vos Gym, the my connection a lot of the other fighters had with Hippolite was never there for me. He is a very good trainer ,but if there is no feeling or chemistry between trainer and fighter then it’s best for both to split.
FSA: What was it like in the gym once Thom retired?
FM: When Thom retired, it really didn’t take me by surprise. Thom’s motivation to train us seemed low just before it happened, and I could tell he was no longer as passionate as he used to be. He had an incredible career,so even while we all wanted him to stick around, I understood that after 40 years in the business it was time for him to say “enough.” I have so much respect for Thom, and wish jim the best in the future.
FSA: What fight are you most proud of and why?
FM: Definitely my fight with Ricco Verhoeven. I was a late replacement just one day before a big Its Showtime event in Amsterdam.I was ready to fly to Spain for Christmas holidays,but instead I stepped in the ring and put on a good fight even though he was 25 kilograms heavier than me. I showed lot of heart and gained respect for my name after losing on points, when everybody was expecting a quick KO victory.
FSA: One of your biggest wins has to be against Sahak Parparyan at Enfusion. What was it like fighting at that time? Did you predict the fight ending the way it did?
FM: Yes, I was confident that I’d win. This was one of my best fights; It was a war til the end, a must see in my opinion. It happened in Thailand on the Enfusion reality show. It’s very sad a lot of kickboxing fans (Me included) haven’t seen video of this fight because the promoter of the show hasn’t released it yet.
FSA: What’s the hardest punch/kick/elbow you have ever received and who landed the shot? What do you remember thinking after the shot landed?
FM: Maybe it was against Steve McKinnon, who after only 15 seconds caught me with a right overhand punch and knocked me out. That was for sure one of my biggest upsets in the sport. Now that Mckinnon fights in Glory,I hope I have the chance to rematch him. i think all the fans would enjoy a big fight between us.
FSA: In 2012 you came in as a late replacement against Mladen Brestovas in K-1. How long had you trained for that fight?
FM: I only trained 5 days for that fight,because they let me know just 6 days before that I would be on the card. And even though I was on holiday in Spain at the time , I didn’t have any doubts about accepting the challenge and fulfilling a dream to fight for the legendary K1 promotion, in the biggest kickboxing show of Europe this year.
FMA: We’ve heard that K-1 didn’t do a good job putting on that event. Did you see anything as a fighter that stood out to you on that show, for good or for bad?
FM: The show was a co-promotion between K-1 and Mr Orsat Zovko (Cro Cop’s manager) ,the local staff put on a very good production of the event,the arena was filled up with almost 20.000 people. In my opinion it was a great event and I did not notice any mistakes.
FMA: What’s your personal opinion on K-1? Do you think they can survive as an organization?
FM: K1 is a legendary brand,and they still have the power of the big brand behind them, but right now maybe they should start with smaller show,scouting young talent and new faces. If they create some decent upcoming fighters then in a few years they might be a dominant organization in the kickboxing world again.
FMA: Obviously, the big news for you lately came when you lost a highly controversial decision to Sebastian Ciobanu at Superkombat. To start off, how did you feel about the fight itself?
FM: I felt without any doubt that I was the winner,and the more dominant fighter after the first 3 rounds, but they gave an understandable extra round and verybody knows how it ended.The good thing is that Superkombat president, Mr. Eduard Irimia, gave me a wildcard after an official appeal and I will fight a rematch against Ciobanu in the big Superkombat final elimination on November 9,to show everybody who the real winner is.
FMA: How did Ciobanu seem about his win? Did he talk to you afterwards?
FM: Ciobanu was happy after the win. I told him he did not win the fight,but he thought he did, so I told him to fight me again and stop acting like a comedian.
FMA: Where do you see kickboxing going in 10 or 20 years?
FM: I hope to see kickboxing as a mainstream sport in the worldwide media,something like what happened in the USA with UFC, where in 10 years it went from a illegal sport in some states to a recognized one,with a really professional structure behind it, and breaking pay per views records.
FMA: What does Frank Munoz do in his off time?
FM: In September, I am preparing to start my University bachelor’s degree program in International Sports Management in Amsterdam. With this education and my elite sport background,I hope in the future to work in a way that helps kickboxing go mainstream and be respected globally as a first class sport
I’d like thank the Fight Sport Asia staff for their great contribution to the sport, and their ability to reach more fans worldwide,with the best and most accurate information!