The Denver Post
By Page C7
Article about Ray Sefo, a kickboxer who has appeared on XWP and HTLJ.
Ray Sefo has the looks of a movie star. The smile of a model. The rest of the world champion kickboxer's body is in charge of keeping that handsome face intact, something that it does very well. After 30 professional bouts, Sefo's face remains unscarred. During his eight-year career, he has accumulated four world titles among his 28 victories. One loss and one draw are his only blemishes. So in his spare time, which isn't much, the current heavyweight and superheavyweight champion does some modeling and acting, careers he hopes to pursue after he is done battering the faces of other less fortunate kickboxers. "I've seen some guys after fights and they are really beaten up and bruised," said Sefo, relaxing in the cafeteria of the Greenwood Athletic Club after putting on a 30-minute exhibition of punches and kicks for an aerobic-kickboxing class. How, then, has he managed to keep those chiseled features from being rearranged? "I've had so many people ask me, 'How do you get away without your face getting busted up"' said the 28-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand. "I'm fortunate. The man upstairs is looking after me." Divine intervention aside, Sefo has rapidly risen to the upper echelon of his sport, which combines martial arts and boxing, because of uncanny speed and anticipation. "I'm quick and good with my eyes. I read my opponents and react well to moves," he said. While Sefo's 6-foot, 215-pound frame doesn't lack for power, he is almost always at a size disadvantage. Superheavyweight kickboxers average about 6-3 and 230 pounds. "Sometimes I wish I was a little taller," he said. "Especially when I'm up against guys who are like 6-7. But I still beat them." Inspired by martial arts movies, Sefo took up Wing Chun - a discipline used by Bruce Lee in his movies - when he was 15. He alternated between playing rugby and martial arts training for about five years. "(Martial arts) were fascinating to me. I would watch guys like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan jumping up and down, using their hands and feet to do all these moves. I thought, I can do that," Sefo said. "For me the attraction was self-defense, discipline and fitness. I never thought of competing." But when a fighter from the gym he trained at in New Zealand was forced out of a bout because of injury, the competitor from a rival gym challenged Sefo. He apprehensively accepted, not about to duck a challenge. "My mind said no, but my heart was saying yes," Sefo said. It took Sefo three rounds to knock out his opponent. After four amateur fights, he turned pro in 1990. "Three years into competition my trainer told me, 'You have what it takes to be a world champion. It's up to you if you want to pursue this,"' Sefo said. "We sat down and set some goals." Since then he has become the first kickboxer to win world titles in four weight classes. He has held the light cruiserweight and cruiserweight crowns, in addition to the two titles he now owns. Sefo has just signed his second contract with K1 in Japan, the most prestigious kickboxing organization in the world. K1, also known as the "Best of the Best," trains and promotes only the 10 best superheavyweight kickboxers in the world. He will be returning to the United States later this year for two kickboxing events in Las Vegas. An exact date hasn't been set for the two cards, but the first is expected to be in the summer. After his current contract with K1 runs out, he'd like to turn his full attention to acting. He has done some work in films and television shows, such as "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." For now, Kevin Sorbo can rest easy. "We've all been given a talent. We just have to put our minds to discovering it and take it from there. Mine is to be a fighter."
Click here to return to the THIS WEEK IN XENA NEWS page.