1-On-1 with Lethwei Champ Dave “The Nomad” Leduc


By Pierre Smith

A new king from the cold streets of Gatineau, Quebec has taken the Lethwei crown. He is Dave Leduc, aka. “The Nomad.”

In what is being billed as a battle between Lethwei vs. Muay Thai,  the 25-year-old Canadian will defend his openweight title for the third time. When he looks across the ring on June 16, at Lethwei in Japan 4: FRONTIER, he will see his opponent in Muay Thai champion Nilmungkorn Sudsakorn.

The young champion will have his hands full against the formidable Sudsakorn, but the Nomad is prepared for an all out war. He is confident he will find the KO (though he hopes in an unusual fashion).

“How did you get into Lethwei?”

LEDUC: I started training Sanda/Sanshou at the age of 17 with my mentor Sifu Patrick Marcil in Gatineau. He really taught me how to be different and unpredictable.

I went to Thailand on three occasions to sharpen my tools. I loved my time as a Nak Muay [because] it led me to fight in one of my most interesting bouts in my career: the Prison Fight in Bangkok, inside the maximum security prison.

The transition to Lethwei was very natural. I was born and trained to fight in that style, from the physical to the mental aspect. After winning a spot on the Tiger Muaythai sponsored fighters team in early 2016, I went a full year dominating the Phuket Muay Thai circuit. Then I got a call to make my debut fight in the Lethwei World Championship against the undefeated 75 kg champion (36-0).

I rearranged his face.

I chose Lethwei and not another combat sport because I can use all 9 limbs, all [parts of my] body as a weapon. I’ve thrown many headbutts, but I’m still waiting for my first headbutt KO.

 “When you get in the ring, you’ve got an incredible fire in your eyes. How do you combat anxiety and fear in a fight?”

LEDUC: I am very focused before the fight, but I don’t experience fear nor anger. I am just impatient to go do my thing. I take that time to visualize my shots landing on my opponent.”Whatever you visualize, materializes.”

I need to talk to myself when the bell rings. “It’s now, Dave. He wants to hurt you.” Then it’s on.

It’s funny because I’m a very relaxed guy outside of the ring. My wife says I’m a teddy bear.

 “You really know how to use your height and reach to your advantage. How did you develop that kind of ringcraft?”


LEDUC: My coach Sifu Patrick Marcil is quite smaller than me. Using kung fu and jeet kune do principles, he was very fast (still is) at closing distance on me.

Even though I love to fight in the pocket with elbows and my head now, at the time I didn’t like the feeling of my opponent dictating the pace of the fight.

After countless hours of sparring with him and my teammates, we developed a couple tricks to keep my distance and keep the fight where I want it to be.

“Can you talk a little about how you’ve prepared for this upcoming fight? What do you feel is your biggest advantage?”

LEDUC: I know he’s a real Thai style fighter. [He] kicks a lot and his hands are not his best tools. I trained my boxing combos finishing up with head blows and catch kicks. If he kicks, I’ll put him on his ass.

I know it’s his first fight under Lethwei rules. There’s no point system, no judges, and the kicks don’t count for points. The only way to win is by way of knockout, so the most damaging techniques prevail. Fighting bare knuckle makes the hands very dangerous.

I am already used to using my nine limbs. That’s my advantage.

“How do you deal with a tall and explosive fighter like Nilmungkon Sudsakorn?”

LEDUC: The question is: “How does he deal with me?”

My training partners are as tall or taller than him. Nothing I’ve never seen before. I watched his fights — he is skilled. He won the 2016 and 2017 Super Muay Thai Tournament. I love that he has accepted the challenge after Cyrus Washington pulled out.

I respect his courage, but he knows I’m the real deal. I hope he’s ready because I’m going for the finish in the second round by headbutt.

I need it for my highlight reel.

“Do you have any interest in MMA? Is there anyone in MMA that you’d like to fight in Lethwei?”


LEDUC: I train BJJ from time to time… I am a martial artist at heart. I love all martial disciplines.

As for my fighting career, I am now solely dedicated to Lethwei.

I know that MMA fighter Rory MacDonald said he was a ‘’purist’.” He’d liked if headbutts were permitted in MMA and [he has said] that the scoring system is bad. Most people like the idea of everything permitted in a standup fight. That’s why Lethwei is gaining notoriety. But when it comes to backing it up, it’s a different story.

Well, I challenge Rory to back up his statement. If a fight happens, it’s going to be Lethwei with headbutts and with bare fists. He doesn’t want that.

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