Elite fighter Leon “Iron Lion” Mynhardt, 33, loves spending his downtime braaing or hitting the Xbox with his large circle of friends. Given that lions are the most sociable members of the big cat family, his comfort around people seems especially fitting. Just don’t forget that he is, for want of a better word, a “lion”.
We recently threw five questions at the Cipla Nutrition brand ambassador.
CN: How did you develop your fighting style?
LM: I started with karate but moved into kickboxing. The club where I practised competed in those events and I ended up being SA champion four times in a row. From there I went professional and headed into Muay Thai, as well as K1 kickboxing. I’d say this background has shaped me into a stand-up fighter – mostly.
I’ve since moved over to MMA (mixed martial arts) because the pro kickboxing scene pretty much died in South Africa. MMA incorporates striking, grappling and wrestling. I lost my first fight at the EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship) though.
I’d done some grappling by then, but it wasn’t as good as jujitsu. My first opponent fought at a high level of jujitsu and ended up choking me out once he got me to the ground. But I’ve worked with a Hungarian grappling specialist since then, and become more of an all-rounder.
CN: You grew up playing rugby and cricket, as well as doing athletics. From a fitness point of view,
is preparing to do these sports more or less difficult than preparing to do MMA?
LM: I left those sports back in grade eight, so I can’t really say. I remember that the practices were very hard, though.
CN: What sorts of exercises do you do to prepare for a fight?
LM: My training programme has a variety of elements in it. There’s fitness and conditioning, as well as skill training.
My programme also has three phases. If the fight’s still a long way off, my camp will start with heavy weights to build up my strength and help me gain a bit of weight. Then we’ll go onto the endurance phase where I do more reps to get my weight to drop. My walk-around weight is about 80 kilograms but I fight under 70. So, I have to drop about 10 kilos before I fight. It sounds rough but it’s actually a very nice life. The work can be a bit much sometimes, but the training also picks me up.
For skill training, our sessions will last for two, maybe two and a half hours every night, and we’ll cover everything. Sometimes we’ll start with grappling, sometimes striking, but wrestling is always in the middle. We always wear gloves when we train. There’s contact when we fight, so that’s how we practice.
CN: Which Cipla Nutrition products do you use and why?
LM: I basically use all of them, like the glutamine and the multi-vitamins. I just think they’re very good products. I’ve used many supplements but I like the Cipla range. For me, the thing about them is they’re always improving.
I like to use the glutamine and sometimes the post-workout recovery after training. I also use the Kre-Alkalyn. Our sessions are very strenuous and it’s easy to over train. But if you have that extra edge with Cipla supplements, you can recover faster than normal.
CN: What does it take to be an MMA champion?
LM: It takes a lot of dedication. You have to love it. You have to be willing to take a punch to your
face and not run away. Because there’s no way you won’t get injured or pick up bumps and bruises.
You also can’t socialise all the time. But it’s something I enjoy.
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