MyMMANews Rising Talent Spotlight: Wolfie Steel
“Doing Anything One Puts Their Mind To” is a common catchphrase used to motivate the ambitious in an effort to turning their dreams to a reality. It gives us reason to live and something fight for resulting in a positive change in our lives. Although dreams inspire, in the fight game it’s all about taking action toward obtaining those goals.
Pursing an aspiring career in Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu seventeen year old Wolfie Steel is carving out his fight legacy originating from hard work, dedication, and inspirational figures guiding him along the way. In his young career he has already achieved many great feats in Grappling, Muay Thai, and Pankration. Alas even with so many accomplish Wolfie has big dreams as his push for greatness is far from done!
Steel speaks with us at MYMMANEWS.com as this transcript interview documents his humble beginning in the Midwest to his current fight pursuits in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Everyone has their own story of how they started off in Martial Arts. How did you get involved in Martial Arts?
Steel: My interest in Martial Arts started when I was a young kid. My dad, an avid Martial Artist all his life, would tell me stories from when he was a teenager training to try and make the Olympic Judo team, to when he was a live-in student in one of Japan’s biggest Judo School, and to when he earned his Kyokushin black belt. These stories are what really piqued my interest in the fighting arts. Having been an anxious and nervous child from birth, I admired the confidence these martial artists had. One day I decide that was what I wanted. So we researched and found what we thought would be the best Martial Arts school. The rest is history. It was a rough road, and several times I tried to quit, but my father wouldn’t let me. He knew before I did that I had a knack for this, it could be something I’m actually really good at. Eventually, I realized that I loved it too. And that was when things really took off. Sadly, my dojo closed, and I was forced to find another school. We found eventually an MMA gym, and that was where I started taking my grappling seriously, along with my striking.
Training under Jorge Gurgel in your humble beginnings describe to us your experience training under the UFC veteran and so many great training partners at his school?
Steel: It was an awesome experience. Me being just the right size as some of the women professional fighters, Jorge let me do the pro fighter class. It was very hard, but the improvement was there to be taken, and I couldn’t resist. To be allowed to train next to pro fighters as a 13-year old was an honor to me. I felt it was my duty to show up, get better and make others get better. It wasn’t always easy, but iron sharpens iron, and with the training partners I had, I had to get better or be left in the dust.
There is always a curiosity behind what makes a fighter into who he is today. What were some of the lessons you learned during the experience with Gurgel that influence your mentality as a competitor and overall person striving to become better?
Steel: Out of the various great things I learned from Jorge, what I really liked was the passion he had for it all. The teaching, the training, if he did something, he did it with passion. And when you are around someone with so much passion for the sport, it will rub off on you. From him I really learned that, if I want to be here, then I must want to be here. I sort of came to this conclusion myself, just from watching Jorge and all the fighters interacting, and from countless hours of grinding through sessions.
During your progressive journey you have never been shy of challenging yourself in various tournaments whether it was Grappling, Muay Thai, and other combat sports which you have become very successful in. AS you got older did these sea of wins develop into more long term goals for yourself in the?
Steel: The more I competed, the more I discovered that I hadn’t done all that much yet. The more I competed, the more I got better, thus finding new heights to be reached. I feel like when you win, it paints a target on your back, and the more you win the bigger it becomes. This is something that makes everyone work harder. I do not like beating someone, and then competing again with them later and they beat me. On the other side of the coin, I loved beating someone who used to be able to beat me. This gave me more goals, long term and short, because the more I won, the more I needed to get better to catch up with the people ahead of me, and stay ahead of those behind me.
However there always comes a time where every fighter experience troubles in your case surgery. What was it like for you during that time and thoughts of what you wanted to do when you got better?
Steel: My most serious injury to date was when they discovered I had a small fracture in my L4 and L5, inside my spine. I had to take 2 or 3 months off. This was not easy to overcome. I had the option of surgery, to fuse the bone, but that would effectively end my career at 15, which I did not want. We discovered that I’d had this small fracture for several years, and just now it was starting to cause me pain, which really worried me. For a period of 3 months, everywhere I went, I was wearing a lower-back brace. I even had to sleep with it on. I watched a fair amount of BJJ videos, and did a fair amount of sitting in a chair for an entire summer. Eventually, through wearing my brace and resting continuously, I was able to get the pain to die down enough so that I could train again. It still hurts occasionally to this day, and when I am older I will most likely need surgery on it after my career is over. During this period of letting it heal, I tried not to think of what I was going to do when it did heal. This just made me impatient missing training even more.
You are one that is dead set on accomplishing your goals with your move to Las Vegas. What was the reason for move?
Steel: I moved to Las Vegas because at this point in my young career, it has everything I need. One of the hardest aspects of training is finding training partners. And since I’m not at the point where I can hire training partners and bring them to me, I had to bring myself to them.
What is a daily training schedule like for you?
Steel: At this point I am training my BJJ and grappling at Robert Drysdale Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and my Muay Thai and striking under Chaz Mulkey. A typical training day is usually grappling heavy, as that is what I am focused on at the moment. I train twice a day grappling, and once striking. And certain days of the week I do strength and conditioning, although my focus right now is in building skill, and both get me plenty of conditioning work in. Of course there are variations in there, but that typically is my schedule day to day, and although it’s not always easy, it gives back more than it takes.
Like your time in the Midwest you had continued yourself success in major BJJ events and other competitions here on the West Coast. How have you been taking it all in?
Steel: When I was competing in the Midwest-East Coast, NAGA’s tournaments tended to be the biggest tournaments for me. When I came to the West Coast/Las Vegas, the tournaments are much bigger out here. Just things like the size of divisions, and popularity of BJJ here make the tournaments harder. Not that there aren’t great competitors in the mid-west or east coast, just that the sport is bigger out here, and therefore there tends to be stiffer competition. I feel like I’ve adjusted pretty well to this change, thanks to my training partners and teachers.
Now you are 17 years old; it’s getting close for you to finally being able to compete in MMA competition. How excited are you to make your debut and what are you looking forward too?
Steel: The part that excites me most about making the transition to MMA is the new challenge of putting my skills together to work best in the cage. I look forward to really starting to be able to make my rise up to where I want to be. This will bring along new challenges, but I feel I am ready wherever my career takes me.
Finally it all up what does it mean for Wolfie Steel to be a fighter?
Steel: It means that I get to wake up and do something I love and respect, which is hard work. It means I can look back and say I was dedicated to something; too many people go through life without any real dedication to something worth mastering. And I don’t want to look back one day and say that I didn’t at least give it a shot. It also means that I know how to defend myself, and that I’ve had to prove that I can.
Wolfie Steel Special Thanks: I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me on my journey, Jorge Gurgel, my other coaches and training partners at the JGMMA academy, and now my Zenith team coaches/teammates, Robert Drysdale, the general! But most of all I have to thank my family. They have sacrificed so much just for me to chase this dream, even my brothers and sisters. Family is everything to me, and I would be no where without the backing I receive from them.