It’s a great honour and delight to conduct an interview with the legendary Jacob Duran.
Hello Mr. Duran, thank you very much for your time to do this interview.
Few people are aware that throughout your rich career you also ran a boxing and kickboxing school. You were also one of the first promoters of the International Kickboxing Federation. What are your memories of those times?
During my early career I actually started training amateur boxers at the world famous Kings Gym in Oakland, California.
Moving to Fairfield I opened ASK (American School of Kickboxing) where I promoted the first IKF show. I also had a number of champions who fought in the IKF and other organizations.
In your opinion, how much has the business changed since then?
Traveling through out the world I had the pleasure of seeing talent from different countries. Actually, my first European trip was to Innsbrook. We took fighters to Kiev Ukraine shortly after the Soviet Union broke up. The sport and talent has gotten much better from when I started
You also worked with big names such as Klitschko brothers and Chris Algieri. How did those collaborations come about?
I have been honored to work with Wladamir and Vitali Klitschko during their championship years. Also, Andre Ward, Amir Khan, Chris Algieri and many more.
You appeared in two Rocky movies, filling in as a cutman. Was filming difficult? What was it like working with Stallone?
I have been blessed to see the Hollywood side of both boxing and MMA with movies such as Balboa and Creed with Sylvester Stallone and also, Here Comes The Boom with Kevin James and a long list of MMA stars. What makes these movies special is that I got to play myself as a cutman. No acting required, just doing what I normally do during a fight.
What prompted you to work as a cutman?
Trading, promoting shows and managing fighters was fun, but being a cutman gave me a special goal to take care of fighters.
In your opinion, what characteristics are required to be a successful cutman?
People ask me what it takes to be a good cutman and a simple answer is practice practice and practice. Honestly, having the right tools and keeping your composure is a must.
You also left a mark working with UFC, a collaboration that folded in 2015 in strange circumstances. Fans and fighters alike offered you strong support on the matter. What is you perception of those events these days, positive or negative ?
Having been with the UFC since UFC33 I helped establish the system that the UFC and other organizations use worldwide. I love seeing Cutmen use the techniques that I established.
Ever since the UFC let me go because of a honest interview I did about the Reebok Deal, the fans, fighters, media and many promoters have supported me. I guess you can say I started the rebellion!
Even to this day I get stopped by fans who still give me compliments for speaking up about Reebok deal and unfair practices.
Where and when did you get your nickname?
I am often asked where and when I received my nickname Stitch. That happened during a kickboxing show when I was a young cutman. A fighter, David Rooney got cut and after the fight I cut pieces of tape and closed the cut up. From there on David said, “you saved me stitches, I am going to call you Stitch”. A nickname I am proud of!
What is your favourite food, and why?
One thing I love to do is eat. Thai food is food I can eat everyday.
Name three things most important in your life.
Three things that are important to me are of course family. My wife and children have supported me and my career with both positive and negative moments. Another special thing in my life is treating people with respect. Finally, it is very important for me to start the day with ironed clothes. I taught my children how to iron and how important it is to start your day looking clean and crisp. If you look good, you feel good and you work good.
When not in uniform, what kind of person is Jacob Duran?
You asked me what kind of person I am. I am the same person you met when I was in Austria. One thing I do not like are fake people and people who do not respect others. What you see is what you get!
When we first met in Austria I expected a pompous man, when in fact you are a worm person, cooperative, with both feet firm on the ground, and always open for conversation or a joke or two. Do the fans get any chance to meet this different Duran?
I try to be humble and appreciate all the great things that have happened in my life.
You came to Austria as a guest of the famous cutman Rolandus. What are your memories of those days?
My trip to Austria was cored inmates by fellow cutman and friend, Roland Aicher. As a birthday gift to himself, he arraigned for me to spend time with him and also work a MMA show.
How did you come into contact with Mr. Roland Aicher?
We first met at the ICA HANDWRAPPING CHAMPIONSHIPS in Cologne, Germany. Roland had a passion for his work and willing to learn. He is now one of the best in Europe. I look forward to my next trip back to Austria. A lovely country with lovely people!
Do you prefer MMA or boxing?
I am often asked which sport I prefer, boxing or MMA. As a cutman, MMA is my choice because the chances of a fighter getting cut is higher than boxing. Boxing on the other hand pays more. Love them both and proud to say I have worked with the best fighters in boxing, MMA and kickboxing.
As part of the UFC your worked with famous names like MirkoFilipović, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin and Cain Velasquez. Have your remained in contact with any of them? Which of them gave you the most pleasure to work with?
Through my career I have worked with the best of the best from Fedor to CroCop to Randy Coulture, Chuck Liddell, GSP, Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez and many many more. These are the ones who sculptured the world of MMA that we have now. I often see many of these fighters and I continue to get their respect. I have had great moments with so many of these fighters. Anderson Silva calls me, “Pappi”!
Currently you are a cutman with Bellator. Are you satisfied?
Since my departure from the UFC, I have worked with many organizations worldwide from Rizin in Japan to WSOF, Invicta and now, Bellator.
The problems I had with the UFC losing my sponsors and not being allowed to work with other promotions are long gone. I am very happy with the schedule I have now.
Are you aware of the number of fight that saw you in the role of cutman?
I don’t have a exact count of how many fights I have world in my 30 year career, but I can say for sure that I have worked more fights, wrapped more hands and worked more cuts than anyone in the history of Cutmen. Championship fights are countless.
What is your life moto?
I think my strongest motto is, “follow your dreams, because they do come true”!
Any message for our readers in Slovenia and Europe?
In closing, I would like to thank you for the interview and hope your readers enjoy it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Also, you are the first European media to hear that I am coming out with my second book, From The Fields To The Garden, the life of Jacob “Stitch” Duran Part 2. The first book was such a success that many fans asked me to write anther one. This one will continue where the last one finished.
Take care and look forward to my next trip to Austria.
Once again, thank you very much for your time, and I hope to meet you again. All the best.