by Sandy Hackenmueller
You might find the name “Annishanaabe Kid” a hard one to say, so focus on the name “Kevin Clark” instead. It will be a hard one to forget very soon.
Clark lives in Bemidji, MN and trains at Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, North Dakota. Never short on personality or time for fight fans, Clark willingly granted us a pre-fight interview.
How did you get involved in MMA?
I began my training with Jake Chernugal and Randy 2.0 Kittelson.
I always wanted to fight legally, so I decided to pursue it. I trained my first day, and thought I was going to just knock Randy out. The next thing I knew, in a matter of seconds, I was arm barred and choked out. I knew at that time that this was only the beginning for me.
Randy thought I was just another guy who was going to be in there one day, then quit. But I kept coming back. I believe if it wasn’t for Jake and Randy, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I wanted my son to have someone to look up too, not just as a fighter but a respectable person. Mixed martial arts taught me a lot of things like respect, dedication and integrity. I never had any of that until I met them.
How long have you been training?
This will be my third year in the sport. I have never looked back.
What is your record?
I am 3-1 as a professional fighter, and 5-1 as an amateur.
What was your first fight like?
My first fight was at Red Lake Casino, May 2012. I had a lot of thoughts running through my head when I was there, while I was in the locker room. I slowly started to relax more while watching the other fighters warm up. A lot of them never trained besides wrestling and just wanted to show everyone they could fight.
I realized I was one of the only ones who was actually training mixed martial arts, and I started to feel more confident. Once I got into the cage, I knew I belonged there. It’s a feeling you can’t explain — the rush, the thrill — it’s just you and your corner, and nothing else matters.
After a fight, people usually get cocky if it is their first win. After my win, I felt like I had a lot of work to do. So I was back on the grind, training that following week. I still see a lot of weaknesses as a fighter, things I am continuing to work on. I am still a newcomer to this sport and I need to continue growing.
Do you have any rituals or routines you do before every fight?
The only thing that comes to mind is I don’t wear white fight shorts. I’ve worn them twice and lost. So you won’t be seeing me in any white shorts anytime soon!
What is your most memorable fight?
My most memorable fight was fighting in Alaska. After a loss, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had a buddy from work corner me. I was in a place I knew nothing about, and fighting a fighter in his own backyard. I ended up submitting him in under twenty seconds, and I believe it is still the fastest submission record for that promotion. It is cool, in a way, to say you hold a record in ALASKA! LOL
What is your favorite thing about MMA?
My favorite thing about MMA is the friendships you make along the way. People believe MMA is a violent sport, but it’s no different from any other. I meet a lot of people who are fighters, and they are the nicest, most respectable people you will ever meet until they step into the cage. They will go out of their way for you. They will sweat, train, and bleed with you, then drive 200 miles just to support you. That, to me, is great friendship. So hands down, the friends I make along the way is my favorite thing about MMA.
What do you hope to be known for?
I want to be known for being able to show people, no matter where you come from, that the sky is the limit. I grew up on a reservation where people believed I had no chance in life. Here I am proving them wrong every day. I am pushing myself to the limit. And now I’m fighting for a promotion like KOTC, where millions of people can watch my fight on television. It seals the deal that I get to co-main under someone like Brock Larson!
Anyone you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank Joe Trottier for pushing me beyond the limits, making me an all-around mixed martial artist. Jason Natal for always taking the time to train and teach me. Dylan Spicer and the rest of the ACA for accepting me as one of their own and teaching me the true meaning of mixed martial arts. Last, but not least, Jake Chernugal, Randy Kittelson, Leah Anderson, Kasey Clark and Dean Lamb for always being there for me. Without them my career as a mixed martial artist would have never been possible.