Dave Leduc

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Dave Leduc
Dave Leduc WLC Post fight.jpg
Leduc in August 2019
Born (1991-12-13) December 13, 1991 (age 28)
Gatineau, Quebec
Other namesThe Nomad
The Steel Giraffe
ဒေဝ (prounced 'day-wah')
NationalityCanadian
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight176 lb (80 kg; 12 st 8 lb)
StyleLethwei, Sanshou, Jeet Kune Do
StanceOrthodox
Fighting out ofMyanmar Myanmar, Canada Canada
TeamPatenaude Martial Arts (2009–present)
TrainerSifu Patrick Marcil
Years active6 (2013–present)
SpouseIrina Terehova (m. 2016)
Websitewww.leduclethwei.com
Signature
Dave Leduc Signature.svg

Dave Leduc (born 13 December 1991)[1] is a Canadian Lethwei fighter[2] who competes in the World Lethwei Championship.[3] He is the current Openweight Lethwei World Champion[4] and current WLC Cruiserweight World Champion.[5] Leduc gained widespread notoriety by becoming the first Quebecer and Canadian to win in the controversial Prison Fight in Thailand.[6] In 2016, he became the first non-Burmese fighter to win a Lethwei Golden belt,[7] by defeating Tun Tun Min[8] at the Aung Lan Championship in Yangon.[9] The same year, he married Russian Moldovan writer and model Irina Terehova in a nationally televised wedding ceremony[10] with approximately 30 million viewers in Myanmar.[11][12]

Early life[edit]

Born in Gatineau, Leduc starting playing baseball[13] at a young age and played in United States as a pitcher.[1]

At the age of seventeen,[14] Leduc began practicing martial arts under the guidance of Sifu Patrick Marcil[15] at Kung Fu Patenaude.[16] He began learning Sanshou and competed in amateur fight nights.[17] Early on, Leduc started training headbutts combinations and adding bareknuckle bag sessions into his training regimen, setting himself up for his future career in Lethwei.[4] The application of Jeet Kune Do principles into Leduc's striking style[15] forged in him an unpredictable and unorthodox style.[18][8][13][19]

In 2011, at nineteen years old, Leduc was managing a nightclub and owned his own limousine company,[20] but in 2016 he decided to sell everything he owned and make his permanent move to Asia.[15]

Early career[edit]

Mixed martial arts (2013–2014)[edit]

In 2013, Leduc started fighting amateur MMA in Canada and went undefeated in three fights, winning two of them by guillotine choke.[21] His most recent win was against Tristar Gym fighter and Georges St-Pierre's protege,[22] Yukinori Akazawa, which he won by unanimous decision.[23]

In 2014, Leduc made his pro debut against future UFC welterweight fighter Jonathan Meunier. Having never cut weight as an amateur, the fight was set at Leduc’s walking weight of 171lbs giving a noticeable size advantage to his opponent. Leduc lost the fight by referee stoppage in the first round and would return to the cage in November 2015 to face future Pancrase & ONE Championship title contender Koyomi Matsushima, this time attempting to drop down to 155lbs. Leduc stated his inexperience in cutting weight made him lose consciousness coming out of the sauna,[24] resulting in him missing weight by 3lbs. Matsushima ultimately won via TKO into the first round.[25]

Muay Thai (2013–2016)[edit]

In 2013, Lethwei being illegal in the province of Quebec[26] and having difficulty getting a fight in Myanmar, Leduc went on his first trip to Thailand to begin his professional career. At the age of 21, he won his first Muay Thai fight, defeating a South Korean opponent by TKO.[27]

In 2016, Myanmar's lack of training facilities[20] led Leduc to leave everything behind and moved to Phuket, Thailand[28] in order to train at Tiger Muaythai, Asia's biggest training camp.[29] Leduc was invited to the 2016 Tiger Muaythai Tryouts and went on to win a spot on the professional fight team, along with teammate Dan Hooker.[30]

Dave Leduc vs Thai inmate at Prison Fight Thailand in 2014

Prison Fight[edit]

On July 12, 2014, Leduc took part and won his fight in the controversial Prison Fight Thailand,[31] where inmates can reduce their sentences and even earn their freedom by winning a series of Muay Thai fights against foreign fighters.[32] The event took place in the maximum security Klong Pai Central Prison, in Nakhon Ratchasima, two hours north of Bangkok.[6] Sanctioned by the Thai Department of Corrections, the event is portrayed as a way for inmates to battle their way to an early release.[33] When it came to fighting convicts, Leduc said to the Bangkok Post that he wouldn't feel bad if he won and his rival's sentence weren't reduced.[34] Leduc explained to Argentinian news Infobae the mentality of the inmates at the Prison Fight Thailand events, saying:

In 2017, Leduc's prison fight was featured in the Showtime documentary Prison fighters: 5 Rounds To Freedom.[36] The film is narrated by Sons of Anarchy star Ron Perlman[37] and aims at examining a controversial practice in Thailand's criminal justice system.[38]

Lethwei career (2016–present)[edit]

2016[edit]

1st Myanmar Lethwei World Championship[edit]

On August 21, 2016, Leduc was invited to make his Lethwei debut at the 1st Myanmar Lethwei World Championship in Myanmar.[39] He was set to fight in Burmese bareknuckle boxing rules, known as Lethwei, against the undefeated (34-0), 75 kg champion Too Too.[40][41] Leduc took the country by storm by completely dominating the fight.[42] The fight ended in a draw according to traditional Lethwei rules,[43] but with his performance, Leduc won the heart of the Myanmar people.[44]

First fight versus Tun Tun Min[edit]

After his dominant performance over Too Too, Leduc challenged Myanmar star Tun Tun Min, at the time, the openweight Lethwei world champion. Their first bout was organized by Great Tiger Group (GTG) in Yangon. Their first fight was an explosive draw.[45]

Going for gold[edit]

On December 11, 2016, their very anticipated rematch took place at the Air KBZ Aung Lan Golden Belt Championship in Yangon, Myanmar.[46] The two previously fought in October to a draw, but the rematch was sweetened by an added bonus: ownership of the Lethwei Golden Belt.[9] Leduc opened the fight offensively, landing his signature fake roundhouse kick to sidekick and a counter elbow on Tun Tun Min's face soon after the opening bell. Following these attacks, the spectators witnessed an exceptional show of respect by Tun Tun Min, his usual bull rushing style was replaced by a noticeable slower pace. The round continued with aggressive attacks from both sides. Leduc was continually striking the knee of his opponent with his front kick, resulting in the weakening of his leg,[17] Leduc executed multiple takedowns, with one injuring Tun Tun Min's right leg and forced his team to call his time-out.[20] The third round continued with a visibly shaken Tun Tun Min. After a short exchange in the clinch followed by a final takedown, Tun Tun Min was not able to continue and forfeit. Leduc received the Golden Belt, becoming the first non-Burmese fighter to hold the Lethwei openweight world title.[8][9][47][7][48][29][49]

Documentary

The journey to the world title was captured by the Canadian television Canal D[50] as part of the French documentary La Fosse Aux Tigres,[16] which aired in November 2017.[51] The documentary follows Leduc training and traveling to Yangon to win the Lethwei world title.[52] The movie was filmed in Canada, Thailand and Myanmar.[53][54][55][31]

2017[edit]

Lethwei in Japan[edit]

Lethwei in Japan 2: Legacy

Leduc sweeping Phoe Kay at Lethwei in Japan 2: Legacy

On February 16, 2017, for the second event organized by the International Lethwei Federation Japan[56] Leduc headlined Lethwei in Japan 2 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo Dome City, Japan.[57]

Leduc defended his title for the first time against veteran Lethwei fighter Phoe Kay.[58][59] In the first round, Leduc performed a vicious spinning elbow knockout, forcing Phoe Kay's corner to call the permitted time out.[60] They revived him and the fight continued, but Phoe Kay looked hurt. In the second round, after several knockdowns, Leduc ended the match by KO, winning his first title defense.[61][62]

The Japanese people loved the brutality and aggression of Lethwei, and more events were announced to be held in Tokyo.[63]

Lethwei in Japan 3: Grit

On April 18, 2017, for his second title defense,[64] Leduc faced Turkish Australian fighter Adem Yilmaz at Lethwei in Japan 3 in Tokyo, Japan[65] under traditional Lethwei rules.[66][67][62]

This match was the first Lethwei world title fight headlining two non-Burmese in the sport's history. For the occasion, the Ambassador of Myanmar to Japan was present at the event held in the Korakuen Hall.[68]

In the first round, Leduc came out dominant over Yilmaz, scoring two knockdowns and landing a strong headbutt in the clinch. In the second round, Leduc dislocated his right index finger in the clinch. The cornerman did not replace his bones and Leduc was not able to use his right hand the rest of the fight. Leduc managed to land elbows and many headbutts on Yilmaz before the final bell.[69][70]

After five rounds, the fight was declared a draw according to Lethwei rules, with Leduc earning the up draw for drawing blood and executing all four knockdowns of the match. The Japanese crowd and the near 13 million viewers watching,[67] were made aware of Leduc's injury, which made the fight exciting and earned him the respect of the fans.[68]

Lethwei in Japan 4: Frontier

For his third straight title defense, Leduc was set to face American Veteran Cyrus Washington at Lethwei in Japan 4 in Tokyo, Japan.[71]

The American challenger Cyrus Washington announced he was pulling out of the fight[72] citing a hand injury he sustained during training.[73] Following this news, Leduc's opponent changed to Thailand's very own Nilmungkorn Sudsakorn,[74] to fight in full traditional Lethwei rules in Tokyo, Japan.[75] Nilmungkron and Leduc exchanged words at the pre-fight press conference, where Nilmungkorn stated that he will win the first Japanese Lethwei Belt. The matchup was billed as Lethwei vs. Muaythai.[74] Leduc was quoted saying "It’s lethwei versus Muaythai. I will finish Nilmungkorn off very quickly and show the world that lethwei is the most devastating form of striking".[72]

In front of a sold out Tokyo Dome City Hall, the 25-year old made a noticeable entrance dressed as the grim reaper. Leduc kept his promise and dismantled his opponent, winning by knockout at 2m:23sec of the second round.[76] In the first round, Leduc landed a head butt on Nilmungkorn which disoriented him. This was shorty followed by his signature right kick to right punch move, hitting Nilmungkorn on the jaw forcing him to use his time-out. In the second round, Leduc proved too much for the veteran Thai fighter,[77] ending the match with a brutal knee to the face.[78][79]

2nd Myanmar Lethwei World Championship[edit]

During Leduc's rise in Lethwei, fans often entertained the idea of a match with Cyrus Washington[15] and pushed for a fight between the two. Having been the only other fighter to score a win over Tun Tun Min, Leduc eventually agreed to a clash with the crafty Lethwei veteran in order to solidify his legacy.[80]

I respect Cyrus a lot, he is a crafty veteran, he has fought some of the best fighters of the sport, but he has never fought anyone like me. I am not like the others, I’m the King of Lethwei and he wants a taste of the crown Leduc told in an interview.[81]

On August 20, 2017, inside the Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, Leduc defended his openweight Lethwei world title against American fighter Cyrus Washington,[82] making this his fourth title defence.[83]

With more than 100 fights on his record, Washington was the more experienced fighter of the two with Leduc having only 22 fights.[14] Although the fight was declared a draw under Lethwei rules, Leduc clearly dominated by applying pressure, drawing blood, and backing his opponent down. This was Leduc's fourth title defense in eight months.[84] The second annual Myanmar Lethwei World Championship was broadcast live on Myanmar's premier sports channel Sky Net.[85]

Aung Lan Championship[edit]

Historically, the Air KBZ Aung Lan Golden Belt Championship was a kryptonite event for Lethwei champions, Leduc having won the title by defeating Tun Tun Min, who had won it from Saw Nga Man on the same stage. On 10 December, marking exactly one year after becoming champion, Leduc faced former WKN heavyweight world champion,[83] Frenchman Corentin Jallon.[2] "This time I keep the belt. Fighting him is gonna be like a crocodile bringing a gazelle in the water." Leduc said.[86]

Inside the Thein Phyu stadium in Yangon, Leduc executed his ceremonial fight dance Lethwei yay, announcing the start of the match. Just before the first exchange, Leduc challenged Jallon with the Lekkha moun. The Frenchman automatically replied with a flurry of punches, which Leduc countered with an accurate elbow counterattack. In the third round, Leduc executed a diving headbutt which landed directly Jallon's right eye, drawing blood. In the fourth round, Leduc had Jallon bent over the ropes from trying to avoid a head butt. While he had Jallon's back, Leduc did a provocative humping movement.[87] The Myanmar crowd reacted strongly to the scene, clapping and cheering.[88]

Leduc punished Jallon for the duration of the fight,[89] opening deep cuts, and showcasing his signature headbutts in the clinch.[90] The fight was declared a draw according to Lethwei rules and Leduc retained the openweight Lethwei World champion title.[10] This fight marked his fifth consecutive title defence of 2017.[91]

2018[edit]

3rd Myanmar Lethwei World Championship[edit]

On 19 August 2018, at his 3rd appearance at the MLWC[92] and 8 months after his last fight, Leduc returned to face former Rajadamnern Stadiumand Lumpini Stadium champion Diesellek TopkingBoxing inside the Thein Pyu Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.[93] The matchup was mediatized as Lethwei vs Muaythai. With more than 200 fights to his record, Diesellek was the more experienced fighter of the two, with Leduc having only 24 fights.[94] For this fight and for the first time in his career, Leduc flew his longtime trainer Sifu Patrick Marcil to Myanmar.[95] Prior to the bout, Leduc said in an interview that he respected Diesellek's left kick, having knocked out current Lumpini Stadium and Rajadamnern Stadium champion Youssef Boughanem in brutal manner at Lumpini Stadium in 2012.[96]

The fight started with some exchanges in the clinch, with Diesellek trying the first headbutt of the fight which missed and Leduc landing a left uppercut.[97] Leduc continued with a fake right knee, fake left knee, followed by a right elbow, knocking out his opponent.[98] Diesellek's corner called for the allowed injury time-out and woke him up.[94] The fight resumed with a surprisingly energetic Diesellek, landing a left kick to Leduc's face. Shortly after, Leduc threw a fake kick to punch, closing the distance, followed by a knee the jaw knocking out Diesellek.[99] Leduc won by KO at 2:23 of the first round, making this his sixth title defence.[95] Leduc raised the Myanmar flag in the ring and helped diesellek get back to his corner before being awarded the openweight Myanmar Lethwei World Championship belt (MLWC).[99]

Tun Tun Min trilogy[edit]

On December 16, 2018, the very anticipated third rematch between Tun Tun Min took place at the Air KBZ Aung Lan Golden Belt Championship in Yangon. The third fight saw Leduc fighting out of the red corner, the first time a foreigner has been able to do so in the history of Lethwei, as it is customary to have non-Burmese fighters come out of the blue corner.[100] Tun Tun Min was fully recovered, but had tremendous difficulty with the distance control of Leduc. In the first round, Leduc landed a headbutt to the temple in clinch forcing the referee to make an 8-count. Shortly after, Leduc executed a jumping elbow and knocked out Tun Tun Min forcing his team to call for the precious timeout.[101] Visibly frustrated at not being able to land on Dave as much as he would like, it even led him to attempt a flying roundhouse kick and other acrobatic feats in an attempt to slow down his rival.[102] The later rounds saw both boxers vying for a finish but end without a knockout at the final bell and Leduc retained his title.[103]

2019[edit]

World Lethwei Championship[edit]

In 2017, Leduc expressed his disagreement on WLC's modern Lethwei rules via an open letter on social media.[104] The WLC is using the modern Lethwei rules implemented in 1996,[105] and removed controversial injury time-out.[67]

Exclusive contract[edit]

On March 9, 2019, despite a long-running feud with the promotion,[106] Leduc announced that he had signed an exclusive contract with the World Lethwei Championship.[107][108][109] The exclusive contract would make it impossible for him to defend his various titles.[110] On March 25, 2019, Leduc held a press conference at the Karaweik Palace in Yangon, Myanmar to announce that he was relinquishing three of his four Lethwei world titles.[111] The three titles in question included the MLWC Title, Air KBZ Aung Lan Champion title and the ILFJ Openweight Lethwei World title,[112] therefore remaining the Openweight Lethwei World Champion under traditional rules.[113]

WLC debut[edit]

On August 2, 2019, Leduc faced UFC veteran Seth Baczynski at the WLC 9: King of Nine Limbs in Mandalay, Myanmar.[114] Leduc landed an elbow strike which exploded Bacynski's left ear[115] and then knocked him out with punches to win the inaugural Cruiserweight World Lethwei Championship.[116]

Spotlight on Lethwei[edit]

After winning the world title, Leduc dedicated his career solely to Lethwei[4] and has been at the forefront of the sport's rise in international popularity.[77][104] Leduc expressed his hopes that Lethwei fighters will remain true to the traditions of the martial art as it grows in popularity.[117] In 2017, Leduc helped the opening of gyms throughout the country[88] and promoting Lethwei outside of Myanmar.[118][119]

On 8 October 2017, Myint Htwe, Minister of Health and Sports of Myanmar, awarded Leduc with a certificate of honor in recognition for his efforts as a proponent of Myanmar's national sport, being on the forefront of Lethwei's expansion internationally.

Fighting style

Leduc has an unorthodox and aggressive striking style. He is known for his accurate elbow strikes and to have perfected the art of the headbutt.[2][8] Leduc is known to taunt and provoke his opponents during the fight[88] and is often referred to as the King of Lethwei.[93][84][98][2][120][121][122]

Leduc Lethwei

As explained in South China Morning Post, after carving his way to the top of Lethwei,[123] Leduc founded Leduc Lethwei.[117] The first international team of fighters from Brazil and Costa Rica brought by Leduc Lethwei to Myanmar, was at the occasion of the Myanmar Lethwei World Championship in 2017.[80]

Offers to compete in mixed martial arts

After claiming the Myanmar Lethwei openweight belt, Leduc received offers from ONE Championship and other mixed martial arts organizations in Asia. However, he declined the offers, stating, "I need to stay focused on my thing. I like fighting with no gloves and with headbutts: that’s my passion.”[124]

Personal life[edit]

Dave Leduc and Irina Terehova's wedding in Myanmar

In 2016, Leduc met Moldovan Canadian writer and model Irina Terehova when she traveled to Thailand.[125] The two had never met before, but after writing a story on Leduc,[126] Terehova decided to leave Canada and meet him in Phuket.[27] The trip was supposed to last two weeks, but Terehova decided to stay and live with Leduc.[127]

Wedding[edit]

On October 12, 2016, Leduc got engaged to Terehova on the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar.[128] On December 13, 2016, the two were married on Leduc's birthday, in a traditional Burmese wedding ceremony[129] in Yangon.[130] The ceremony was nationally televised on MRTV[10] with approximately 30 million viewers,[29] only two days after his world championship title fight,[11] catapulting them to celebrity status in Myanmar.[131][132]

According to Burmese magazine The Yangon Times, the couple is a national emblem in Myanmar.[133][134][135] Leduc and his wife currently reside in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.[95]

Outside the ring[edit]

Charity work[edit]

Leduc's relationship and marriage to Terehova,[136] who has been famous in her own right as a writer for MTL Blog, have contributed to his celebrity beyond Lethwei. In 2017, Leduc and his wife started getting involved with children at NLD AIDS center in Yangon, who are infected with HIV/AIDS virus, bringing them chocolate and treats, as well as giving undisclosed donations.[137] Leduc adopted the Burmese lifestyle, and is often seen wearing a Longyi. This helped the Myanmar people welcome the idea of having a foreigner as the champion of their national sport.[10]

The Amazing Race Canada[edit]

In 2019, Leduc and his wife Irina Terehova competed on the The Amazing Race Canada Season 7. The couple quickly became the season's villain[138] and received a lot of hate from Canadian viewers for their cutthroat way of racing.[139]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2017 Prison Fighters: Five Rounds to Freedom Himself Prison Fighters: Five Rounds to Freedom on IMDb
La Fosse Aux Tigres Biographic role Fosse Aux tigres on IMDb
2018 Into Dave's Fist Himself Canal+ Myanmar documentary
2019 Myanmar Lethwei and Me Canal+ Myanmar documentary
Power & Martial Arts : Lethwei Insight TV 4K UHD documentary
The Amazing Race Canada Season 7 contestant
Underground Gangster Myanmar movie in Burmese

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Championships[edit]

Awards, records, and honours[edit]