Image Credit: Bellator MMA
A true story of redemption. It’s the life of Walter ‘Kraken’ Pugliesi, a 26-year-old professional fighter from Arcore, Italy (the home town of Silvio Berlusconi near Milan).
Pugliesi (7-2) had a very hard life as a child. A son of two young drug addicted parents, Walter ended up with a foster family for four years while they were rehabbing. He remembers his homecoming as one of the best moments of his life but his happiness didn’t last long. His parents divorced when Pugliesi was 14-years-old and for him, there begun the path to hell. Pugliesi became addicted to drugs too and was arrested twice for drug dealing and possession of an illegal firearm. He spent about three years in jail and rehab centers.
Once he’d got his life back together, Pugliesi started to fight in 2016. He has since fought for Bellator twice and both matches were against fellow Italian, Andrea Fusi. The pair had a feud that lasted for more than a year on social networks which wowed the Italian fans. Pugliesi lost the first fight and won the second one, both ending with a decision. The fights between the duo were recognised as two of the best bouts of the events by members of the MMA community.
On Saturday, after almost one year away from the cage, Pugliesi gets back to action at EMC 5 in Dusseldorf, Germany against Konrad Dyrschka. The 28-year-old German fighter has been competing since 2013 and has a professional record of 10-1, 1NC. In his career, he’s obtained six knockouts and one submission. He is undefeated in his ten previous contests and when he’s finished his opponent, the stoppage has come in the first round.
Euro MMA Hub caught up with his coach, Garcia Amadori, one of the most valued MMA and BJJ coaches in Italy, after the successful weigh-in to talk about his fighter.
WHEN DID THEY OFFER THIS MATCH? DID YOU ALREADY KNOW EMC?
“About two months ago and we knew little about the promotion except that it’s one of the most important in Germany. In fact, so far I have seen good organization and the purse is excellent compared to Italian standards. The event will be behind closed doors due to Coronavirus but there will be some special guests including Mirko Cro Cop.”
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT DYRSCHKA?
“He is a young fighter and tough with excellent stamina so he’s a strong opponent. It was hard to find much about him online but we managed to watch some footage and we got an idea of his fighting style. He looks like a well-rounded athlete with knockout power but he’s also got grappling skills and good footwork.”
DUE TO CORONAVIRUS LIMITATIONS, WERE THERE ANY ISSUES WITH TRAINING CAMP?
“We had to adapt a little bit but despite everything, I’m satisfied. I think Walter is fit to face this challenge.”
PUGLIESI JOINED YOUR TEAM ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO. HOW HAS HE CHANGED IN THIS PERIOD?
“A lot for sure. When he came to my gym, he had some big gaps that he was slowly correctly. Problems were noted above all in passing from grappling to striking phases and deficiencies in the various distances of the fight. He’s now a more complete and solid fighter. To get an idea of his progress, just look at the two matches with Fusi: Bellator Genova in 2018 and the victory in the rematch last year in Milan. He was a completely different fighter.”
IN YOUR TEAM, YOU ALSO HAVE STEFANO PATERNÒ, A BELLATOR FIGHTER. LAST YEAR IN MILAN, HE WAS THE ITALIAN FIGHTER WHO MOST IMPRESSED THE FOREIGN PRESS. WHEN WILL HE BE BACK IN ACTION?
“I believe that within a few days, there will be an official statement from Bellator on the date, place and opponent for his next fight. When you know the name of the opponent, you will understand how much the promotion believes in Stefano.”
YOUR TEAM IS ONE OF THE FEW IN ITALY WITH FIGHTERS IN A WORLD’S TOP PROMOTION. THE FIGHTERS COME FROM ALL OVER THE NATION BUT ALSO FROM OTHER COUNTRIES. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY?
“The key is my training system, the All Points Method. It’s a technical but also a physical and mental training program I developed in about 35 years of work. I grew up training in free style wrestling, then I became a kickboxer and a boxer. I’ve trained professional boxers and at last, I’m a 2nd degree black belt in BJJ, the only Italian featured on ‘Gracie Mag’. I can merge all of my experiences into only one method. When a fighter comes to my gym, they understand the difference. That’s why for instance a fighter like Manolo ‘The Venetian Angel’ Zecchini chose to come back from USA and join my team. He will probably fight in EMC this fall. I have several others professional and amateur fighters who are training hard but today, it is difficult to say when they will fight.”