On March 1, I spent an afternoon speaking with Akachi Washington, a martial artist in every sense of the word. Washington is scheduled to fight Odie Delaney at the Brawlroom Beatdown III, Saturday, March 16 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Washington, a natural Middleweight, is fighting for the fourth time at Heavyweight and will be giving up a lot of weight to the much heavier Delaney. However, Washington seized the opportunity for a chance to dethrone Delaney and take his Heavyweight belt back to Tallulah, Louisiana.
UPDATE: Akachi Washington has withdrawn from his scheduled bout with Odie Delaney to accept an invitation for a casting call with BKFC (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, March 16.
Every superhero has an origin story. What’s yours? Where do you come from? What got you into fighting?
Originally, I am from Las Vegas, and my mom is from Tallulah LA. My dad is of Nigerian descent. I moved back to Louisiana when I was 10.
And what got you into fighting?
I was always a nerd in high school. I’m an anime buff, Legos, sci-fi, Star Wars, Star Trek. And even before anime, I knew Bruce Lee. And the movie The Last Dragon with Bruce Leroy and Sho’Nuff, and since I saw that movie, I always viewed myself as a martial artist, no matter what I did. I said to myself that day, I will achieve the glow.
What’s a typical week like for you? How often are you training and what do you typically train and when?
A typical week starts on Sundays. Sundays are power down days, I can lounge around, get out, do cardio. Weekdays, I wake up at 4:30, start a two mile run. Afterward, I run bleachers, do burpees, and usually get finished by 7:30. I go to work at 8, work from 8 till 5. After work, do two to three miles of running, HIT training, flipping tires, sledge hammers, those kinds of things.
And how about striking, grappling, when do you train?
I meet with my coach about twice a month and we do a regiment with a striking and grappling system, and I do coaching myself. I meet with my coaches more for accuracy and timing, strength conditioning, and weight conditioning. I typically work on striking and grappling by myself.
We are co-owners of a gym called ACSKIG, that teaches sambo, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Philippine boxing, wing chun, and self defense practices.
What do you like most about fighting? What do you feel is your biggest strength?
I like the intimacy of fighting. I thought to myself a long time ago, especially if you look at yourself like a warrior, how much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in combat? Fighting takes much greater skills than football or basketball, it’s more than a sport. Fighting is my life. I immerse myself in it every day. I wake up thinking about it, I go to bed at night thinking about it.
And what do you feel is your biggest strength?
My will to survive is my biggest strength. No matter how tough the fight gets. No matter how outmatched, overpowered or outweighed I am, I will not quit until I die. If I walk into a fight, I know that the only way I will lose is if I go unconscious. My will to compete is crazy, it’s insatiable. I can accept losing, but I can not accept me allowing myself to lose without giving it my all.
I saw that you are a sambo instructor? Tell me about how you got into sambo.
When I moved to Nashville, the gym I joined was a Muay Thai and sambo gym. I just took a liking to sambo because of the intensity and severity of it. To me, in the grappling world, it was like the best type of grappling. It didn’t separate striking and grappling, it was all combined into one. It wasn’t just about being a grappler. It was the best of both worlds. I don’t like pure grappling, it just isn’t me. Sambo is a beautiful art to me. It’s from Russia. We all know that Russians are hardcore, and the dignity of people in the sambo community is so illustrious.
When was your first fight? What was it like the first time that you stepped into the cage? What was going through your mind?
My first fight was October 14, 2004. Right before the first time I stepped into the cage, I was in the back with Omari (Omari Boyd, Glory kickboxer, and mixed martial artist), and I guess he saw that I was nervous. Omari told me to just pretend that it was him in there with me, and that we were sparring. And, when I went into the cage, it all just kinda clicked. I realized that the worst thing that could happen to me was just getting kicked or punched. I had the same inhibitions that everybody has at the starting line. Everybody is afraid at the starting line. But you have to get up and do it. The best feeling in the world is having your hand raised while your opponent is on their back.
What is your record? Are you fighting amateur or professionally? Are there any notable fights that you’d like to tell me about?
I was hoping for this fight (March 16) to be my pro debut. However, this was a last minute fight. I initially turned it down, but then when I was told it was for a belt, I accepted it. This is probably going to be my last fight as an amateur. My amateur record is 3-2.
Ok, and is there anything that stands out in those 5 fights?
To be honest, my most notable fights thus far have probably been with my sparring partners, and particularly with Omari Boyd. He was the reason that I moved to Nashville. He’s one of the best kickboxers in the world, and when I moved to Nashville, he had just won a belt with Glory. Nobody that I’ve ever fought compares to him, and because of him, I’m never worried when I fight. When we sparred, we’d fight for real, level 3 sparring every time. It’s never nice with us.
I see you’ve got a fight coming up in Biloxi on March 16. I also saw that it’s only your fourth time fighting at Heavyweight. What did you used to fight as? Why are you fighting at Heavyweight now? What weight do you usually walk around at?
Usually, I fight at Middleweight. I was fighting at 170 for a few years, but after I hit 30 years old, that was over with. Middleweight will be where I’m going pro at. I usually walk around at 185, if I’m fighting at 185. And, when I competed there, I walked around at 185. I don’t like fighting heavy. I am confident enough in myself that if I lose, it will be because of me, not because of a weight cut. I never really cut weight. Right now, I’m walking around at 200.
How heavy do you expect your opponent to be on March 16?
He’s probably gonna be coming in at 265, but I’m ok with that. It doesn’t worry me. If it did, I wouldn’t have accepted the fight. I fought someone who was over 300 pounds before. I mean, If you’re that heavy, we probably have about the same muscle mass, but you are probably at 30 percent body fat.
So, what are you planning on doing to help you compensate against a fighter that will be outweighing you by so much?
Yea, I’m going to hit him in his face, very hard. And, I’m pretty sure that he’s never been hit this hard. I’m an instructor, I know fighters. His whole plan will be to grab me, but I can grapple well.
Obviously, your long-term goal is to become a world champion. What are your short-term goals? What are you doing to help you get there?
Honestly, my long term goal isn’t about becoming a world champion. It’s not about other people. It’s not about anyone else. My goal is to be the best version of myself. Now, if I do become a world champion, I’d be happy with that. But, it’s not the most important thing. I am my own biggest critic. My short term goal is to open a gym in my home city, establish something for the kids in need here, have them a place where they can go and get off the streets.
Other than that, my goal is to have a family. I’m a family oriented person. So, I’m not striving to be a world champion, but if it happens, that’s great. My goal is to just be the best version of me. I’m not looking for anyone else’s approval.
Let’s say it’s fight day. How does it begin for you? What do you do leading up to the fight? What are you doing 2 hours before, what’s going through your mind? 1 hour before? 30 minutes before?
Well, two hours before a fight, I’m watching other people fight, I’m absent-minded. One hour before, my coach is talking to me. Thirty minutes before the fight, we begin our workout regiment, to get me stretched out and flexed out. Fifteen minutes before, we begin our mental warm up, to get me into fight mode. And, five minutes before the fight, I’m pacing back and forth because I’m in fight mode, and I’m ready to go. My coach tells me that I need to focus, with that, I nod to him, tell everybody behind me that I’ll see them soon, look my opponent in the eyes, and let them know that this is not what you think it’s going to be.
What has been the highest point of your career thus far?
The best moment of my career, I would have to say, is when I fought in Florida at this tournament. I tore up my arm in the first fight against a Heavyweight. I tore my bicep in the very first round. I went back to the corner at the end of the round, and my coach said, you tore your bicep, what do you wanna do? And, I told my coach that I wanted to keep going. I fought the next two rounds, and ended up losing the fight, but I got so much from that.
Regardless of everything else that I’ve done, nothing means more to me than fighting past that injury. He couldn’t outstrike me, he had to take me down and try to get a submission, and even then he couldn’t get it. I know that if I didn’t tear my bicep, I would have won. I draw a lot of motivation and inspiration from that fight. Just because you lose, it doesn’t mean you are defeated. I lost, but I wasn’t defeated.
In 20 years when you’re looking back on your career, what would you have had to accomplish in order to think of it as a success? Why?
I would have had to have set a path for the next generation to come through, to have successfully made a path for these inner city kids to come through. If i’m not preparing for the next generation, for my kids, for my communities’ kids, than I haven’t done anything. If I haven’t created that route, to get them where they need to be, I have failed. If I have not done that, I have not done anything.
Other than your fight coming up on March 16, do you have anything that you’d like to plug? Would you like to shout-out your school/coaches?
Yea, absolutely! I’d like to shout-out my Coach Robert West of ACSKIG. He’s my coach, but he’s more of a brother to me than a coach. We have that Goku/Gohan relationship.
Also, I’d like to shout-out my coach from Tallulah high school, Anthony Goods. There’s another coach that I had named Toriana Wells. In the future, when I hear my name mentioned, I want it mentioned like theirs; that I did everything that I could for kids. What they taught me when I was younger, I might not have understood then, but now that I’m a grown man, I get it all.