Interview - Mick Cutajar

Interview: Mick Cutajar, Judo champion, mixed martial artist, - 29th January 2007

Media Man Australia interviews one of Australia's greatest athletic success stories and a man who has overcome insurmountable odds. He is the #1 contender in Xtreme Fighting Championships and one of Australia's finest martial artists.

What are the highlights of your person and professional life?

Highlights of my personal life, well I guess being able to overcome the most difficult time of my life when I went to prison for 3 years, this was a new real world that really does exist. Don't be fooled by the TV shows, its real, sometimes its very hard to be normal, to have emotions at the right time for the right reason, I still have this problem, trusting people is not easy for me, and those who have met me will know. Not forgetting with success comes failures also, closely followed by personal success.

I had my set goal made up whilst in jail, I had lost my company which was as a body guarding and security with clubs and pubs, (not to lock up people), I had to get out seek employment, better my sport, better my education and try to lead a normal life. As the information states in The Weekender that you have, I was set in my ways completing University with a degree majoring in Psychology was something huge. I have had the critics who kept trying to stop me from graduating or those who I thought were friends who kept commenting and saying to stop its not worth it, you'll never amount to anything, these are the ones who motivate me the best, the do gooder's, the perfect person who can do no wrong.

I completed something that would make me a better person, that would make me better understand that what I did do happen for a reason, it made me appreciate what I had, what I wanted and who was there for me for this period.

My wife and her kids didn't go through this (jail term) with me, but are on the tail end of lost emotions, they are stuck with my stubbiness way's, they are learning as I am, they are a personal achievement in my personal development to become a better person. In all I think that from where I have come from to where I am have been a high for personal self.

Highlights of my professional life, or stepping stones to a highlight have come at the expense of full-time employment, I guess that making a choice and sticking with it is the professional in "professional life", Mick Cutajar is the product, the product has many branches that extends to teaching kids and adults the basic in self-defence, from stranger danger to self confidence, to personal training for fitness, or I help businesses who are interested in tactical side defence were I teach seminars, I give lectures to Psychology students in goal setting and motivation. To the main highlight is showcasing what I do, its real, its easy, it's a way of life for me, "the martial arts", being able to represent another Country like "Malta', was huge, I did very well on the international judo contest, living and breathing every day for 3 months as a full-time athlete, I had a car, a phone, a computer, a unit, I had everything, having this made me want to try for Australia, I now had the drive and the motivation.

Winning (2nd) at world titles in Pangration 2000 was the start, then the ISKA Jujitsu World Cup, then the 2005 Oceania Judo world cup I placed 3rd, this event was my stepping stone to getting back on the Australian Judo team, (un-expected but good), this is now my aim which I achieved in 2006 placing 2nd at the nationals behind Martian Kelly (Olympian from 2004), then to Tahiti with the Australian Team.

Its funny without the past I wouldn't have had a future coming, without learning to do self-defence in the first place I wouldn't have had the ability to become a specialist in providing a specialist service in which I'm highly qualified in and Internationally known for. I have not reach my highlight yet, it's near, but I've been fortunate enough to succeed in the path to a real highlight.

What is full contacting fighting, and …..

Full contact fighting is very old and here to stay. Today it's known as extreme fighting, UFC, caged combat, king or the cage pride, just to name a few. This type of fighting is very old and extends back to the 50's and 60's, most old traditional martial arts had the same development, rivals from other arts challenged each other with the winner taken control of the others school, and also to show that one art was dominate over the other. Rules include anything and everything from all strikes to all locking of any joint, to all strangles, but some had gentle mans rules "if you can call it that" don't touch the eyes and nuts, but anything else is allowed, this also included no rounds or time limits this was good for sorting out the makers and breakers.

The world of no rules is very intriguing and a personal test for any high-class martial artist.
One of my closets mates and trainers was always being picked on out of our crowd which consisted of (Shannon Taylor Boxing, Silver a Thai fighter and instructor, Rod boxing / Thai boxing, and Brett Thai trainer mixed fighter) Brett was the nicest guy until you pissed off, he had this saying once when we were out and a gang tried to jump us,…"OK MATE THE WINNER GETS TO THROW THE LOSER OFF THE ROOF OF THE CAR PARK (3 stories up), most guys stopped in there tracks looked down then walked away, so this type of interaction still exists today, its not the same as the old days taking the club but still has the same effect, mind you there are a few persons of interest I wouldn't have mind throwing off the roof but that's another story.

What makes your one of Australia's greatest?

I guess in the early days of its international landing to the world WOW promotions now UFC started show casing its soon to be greatest event in the world for all the world to see. The UFC 1, 2, 3 and 4 were the biggest, meanest and most brutal of its introduction, from this we seen the Shamrocks, the Gracie's, the Severn's, then the nobodies, who were in just to fill the card so these guys could show the world of their greatness.

So I sent away my information to WOW got the reply and was place on the waiting line (I still have the acceptance letter from them). Australia was very new to this sort of thing and it wasn't looked at to kindly, so I was forced to take measures into my own hands to raise funding leading to my extended holiday (another story). Then in 1996 the UFC came to Darling Harbour, the world of no rules landed. I was still on my extended holiday when I send my application in for this event of course the authorities from my accommodation wouldn't let me go, thus new young Aussie's had a head start on me, like Chris from Queensland, and Elvis who now has competed in UFC thanks to me missing out.

Once released, I trained very long and hard with DJ and Chuck (trainers) and was invited to the newly formed RINGS no rules run by Australia's great Chris Hassman. I was to fight Al Ryanish, he had previously smashed the now Elvis of UFC, now just for the record to set the night off, him being a cop and me a con motivated me to knock him out with as Blitz Mag quoted "with a punch that would have stopped a bull".

The world of no rules in Australia was here and I proved my while. The one I am most famous and recognised for is the match between David Frendon and I, in 1999, this was and still is the longest hardest and most brutal no rules event in Australian history, the fight lasted for 18 minutes, it had everything from the good old days, thanks to QLD rules and the promoter, I even invented the heal strike to the chest whilst being leg bared, from this event which was stopped and me declared the winner, the Australian no rules changed people could see how judo is used just like BJJ was in UFC, this made people think twice about fighting me, so I was invited to fight I the caged combat in NZ, a very tuff bunch, (the promoter still owes me a few grand) they closed down and did the runner, but not before I went through the line up 'all in under 2 minutes using the same moves. People like this group are what make it bad for guys like me who want the big shot. Now just for the record, and all the lazy promoters who couldn't be bothered to update the fight record. I have had 11 no rules fight 3 loses (broken bones) and won 8 by KO. I held the title from 1999-2004. I did win more after my 3 loses as anyone would.

Due to being in prison I was not allowed to enter the states, even now Randy from UFC has advised me he cannot spend the money for me to have a working visa, thus ending my chances for ever competing in the UFC. I've missed my chances now with them so that's that.

How and when did you get into martial arts and later, full contact fighting?

I started as a young kid in 1976, first went to karate with dad, but was too skinny and small, so he took me to the judo school in Berkeley. There were over 80 students of all ages and mostly families joined all their kids into judo at Berkeley. Judo was huge when I was a kid, everyone did it.

Personally I think it should be put in the education system as a part of physical education just like other countries have since the 50's & 60's, this would stamp out any antisocial behaviours, plus assaults on teachers it combats all obesity issues and its not discriminate of size height weight or race or popularity unlike netball and soccer / football, if your not in with the good people or popular you have no chance, that's my opinion.

After 30 years of judo, jitsu, Pangration and Thai training as a coach / instructor you ask yourself what I teach, will it really work in a real life situations I knew it worked as a body guard but what if the other guy was armed with the same knowledge as me, welcome to no rules, and yes what I teach works bloody well, ask the guys I've knocked out.

No rules is a tester for any coach / instructor and personally I would recommend that all should just try it once, its not for everyone, but at least you had ago, we are blessed with several promoters who will give new guys ago. Ok some guys don't like getting hit in the face, that's cool we have an official full contact federation called Pangration spelt with a G not a K, it's the official recognised federation that gives young guys the chance to fight and build up to the extreme level. If there isn't a Pangration school next to you your school may be eligible to under take RPL to become a recognised school for Pangration then we can host as many contests as people like.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome?

This is an easy one to answer, overcoming people who try to close doors, try to make it difficult, try to stop me from doing what makes me me, trying to get to those whom are close to me by using rumours to upset them. Entering University was a challenge one example, again some do-gooder told me he didn't want my type at the Uni, I could understand coming from jail, but hey I want to learn, lucky for me I found a tape of that conversation and reminded him of his place and where he would end up, then I started University, lucky me.

The biggest I think was being able to compete and be me, Mick Cutajar and earn the trust of those who backed me before I went to prison, this has been a hard road but I think I've proved my point.

Stories have cost me contacts that could have made my business bigger, but some do-gooders never give up. This is hard on my family, and people should learn to just keep to themselves.

Its funny I met strangers for the first time and they seem to remember what I did all those years ago but could not remember me for wining the world title in Pangration or world cup in jujitsu, or winning the N rules title, these are small minded people who have no life and have to take interest in others who do have a life. Sad but at times it's a challenge.

I've heard so many stories of things I've suppose to have done, and what's stupid whilst the person is standing there spinning shit to another person I'm standing there listening to it, and this idiot has no idea its me he is talking about. I guess if they are talking about me they are leaving someone else alone. Like a lion my life is private and personal to some point, and if anyone crosses that line, there is no crossing back, I can take the bullshit stories I've had them most of my life, crossing my family will not be tolerated.

What led you to get your degree in sports etc?

My Degree is a BSC majoring in psychology, the sport side was just a subject. I guess whilst in prison and out on works release at Meadow Bank Tafe I was studying certificate in health and fitness when the psychology side took to my liken, god I can remember readying a sports psych book from start to finish in 1 month, I knew right then what I wanted to do. I knew that doing this would make me a better person and would re-educate me to better understand other and they way they say and do what they do, For my sport I could become a much better athlete on a whole new level. So I started applying to enter University in 1998, then again in 1999 when I was accepted in 2000 and what was really good being aloud to do lectures at the University as I was a champion in sport and in overcoming problems by way of goal setting, thus the teaching side of my business is now what it is thanks to University and the handful of special people who assisted me and gave me that shot.

Why is full contact fighting, and the martial arts world in general, so political?

Politics, well it's in everything that has money to be made and it will take it from you. Politics are what causes sports, business and even companies to fold, politics sadly are what makes a system where one can say what they like and the other can say what they like in the end it's a vote, it's a vote of what's good for something, and lets face it, no rules is no rules, there should be no politics with this sport, there can be only one winner clear cut, that's it, you don't like get out. Over the years MMA and MA alike have had politics call the scores, or the points in decision politics are used to get people started and piss each other off.

Sadly no rules has clashed with politics this is one reason I've stayed away, I've achieved what some can not and I don't have to prove myself to anyone but if I had to make any political bearing on the martial arts MMA, I would like to see:

1) payments across the board on an equal such as fighters who have between 0-5 get so much 6-10 another wage, 11-15 another payment and then after this you have earned a right to have good money.
2) Fighter should be loud to fight for who ever when ever if the promoter cannot offer them a good payment with out the slagging or being black band. Example I had one promoter call me up asking me to fight I advised him of the fee, I was told no way I can get a guy from the pub to jump in for a case of piss and a trophy, funny this guy is not going too well now,
3) Look after the fighters and their health, for this sport to grow we need to branch out, offer satiability.
4) Insurance cover to decrease for schools / instructors.
5) Compulsory training and education in this area to lower any future risk of injury to any student.
I hate politics it takes the fun out of any sport and pushes others right out.

What media coverage have you attracted to date?

I have been very lucky, our local media has been covering my ventures since I was a teenager, so being in front of a TV camera is normal to me. In Malta I was treated like a professional star, appearances in sports interviews sports papers, news papers. Blitz Magazine, Australian Budo, Ralph Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Mercury, and Advertiser.

I have had coverage with TV stations such as WIN TV, Prime, Capital, whilst I was in prison there was a show like Sports Tonight which was aired during the day at about 11 am if I can remember right, they came to the Long Bay maximum and filmed some of us training and working out, to this day I've not seen it but have been told it has been on quite a few times.

What are the positives about XFC, and what areas do you feel that they could improve in?

XFC has given new guys a chance to show case what they have, but they are just a number of promoters who do the same thing, make money, its good to have them running they now bring overseas fighters here, wish them all the best. What do they need to improve on, firstly they can put the correct information about me fight record that would help and then follow the same information I stated in the political stuff. Look after the fighters.

When will the public see you competing next?

Well I am trailing for the 2008 Olympics in Judo, that is my first and main priority at this stage, until this is decided on or unless the money is worth it. My judo has many contest in NSW, SA, VIC and overseas. I know there are a lot of people who would like to see me compete against David Frendon again in another full No rules, yes I would do this but under the right conditions agreed by just Dave and I, I think this would be good for the sport. I would love this to happen right here in Wollongong in a cage.

Who are your main sponsors and backers, and why are you such a good investment?

I am lucky I have had the support of some influential people and their companies and businesses some have been with me for 16 years. I don't think these sponsors use me for investments as I've only completed some personal services to 1 or 2 of them over the years, I guess being personal friends had benefited me and my sports.

K and R Fabrication of Unanderra
Coastline bricklaying of Dapto
CBC Constructions of Wollongong
Allmens Industrial of Port Kembla
Safety Down Under of Wollongong with john Danzo and Peter Holt

Others who have over the past have assisted me in achieving my goals are DAA Consolidate of Wollongong, PNP Racing Unanderra, RACEngineering of Dapto.

I would like to offer and extend my experiences to other companies / businesses who wish to become involved with me and use me to help their staff with personal development. Example, flight steward and their union, want to better prepare their staff for close counter control I will assist in this area. I can host a seminar for your staff. Schools I can show students and provide simple goal setting steps.

Your specialized skills have led to TV, films and the like. What's the range of TV / film you have been featured in?

I have been very lucky in this area over the past 16 years. I have featured in TV shows such as All Saints, Blue Murder, Witchery, Headlands, Mission Impossible 1 and 2. I would like to do a more hands on role, like fight scenes and take a part in a action role, I think it would be huge and successful for any director giving me the chance.

What motivates you?

I guess coming from my background (prison) and its sustained difficulty surrounding this, I cannot rely on others for employment that is stable and fulltime, I'm not getting any younger so I need to become self motivated to create my own employment that is rewarding and I'm the one taking control. I love to travel and relax you cannot do this without stability in your life. I like to feel that I am successful at what I do, providing training and education to other is a great motivational tool this keeps me interested.

What's your motto?

To be your best and reach your goals, you learn from your losses and accept defeat as a part of being or becoming a champion.

How does your family feel about your high risk occupation, and what does their support mean to you?

High risks come with limelight and what lady doesn't like the limelight, in saying this my wife has mixed feelings for what I do sometimes I can see its not her liking but this is something I've done for over 30 years something that I did before my family was a family so accepting me is accepting all that I do. It nice to have family support at times I thing the road to success comes more easy this way if the feeling of support is strong. You hear it all the time partners not really into their partner's sport, then the road to success slowly fades away, this is sad for any athlete.

My family support could be, well I guess normal. As a kid and into my 20's I had no family every see me fight which was very strange all those years nothing then my wife started it was a bit over bearing and at times I don't want them there especially at the no rules because you never know what injury you may sustain, but support is a huge thing for any athlete. My advise for loved ones and those wanting to support, don't try to change the person to something that they are not, accepting them for who they are and what they do is the key to building a strong team, remember its what they are, and do that attracted you to them in the first place sit back and enjoy it.

What's the biggest misconception about you?

People have a bad habit of judging me from something that happened along time ago, I am human, its not like I walk around with a trench coat balaclava and shot gun. Judge me how you want to be treated.

What do you do to relax?

I love just laying at the beach and sleeping or surfing. Riding my Harley with my mate and wife along the coast road. I love the open doors with camping cooking snags. Now I have step kids they do sports at times. I can be a little embarrassing, excitement still hits me good. I love my animals, what enjoyment they bring. We go to the movies all the time when we head out into the city (SYD). I guess I will get all the rest I need when I'm dead.


Editors note: as you have read, an amazing man and an amazing athlete. Mick "The Cutta" Cutajar is going right to the very top, and we here at Media Man Australia are delighted to play a modest part in his ongoing success.



Mick Cutajar official website

XFC official website


Mick "The Cutta" Cutajar


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