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Women’s History Month Interview Series: Getting to Know Amanda Leve, Jiu Jitsu’s Young Rising Star

At 17, Amanda Leve lasted 23 minutes in a grueling grappling match against Cat Zingano.

Amanda Leve gained recognition when she was denied the opportunity to wrestle for her high school team.  She gained even more fame when at just 17 years old, she lasted 23 minutes in a grueling grappling match against Cat Zingano, yes the same Cat Zingano who just fought for the UFC Championship against Ronda Rousey.  I caught up with this rising star in the game of Jiu Jitsu recently.  Amanda opened up about gender and biases as she braves the world of Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.




Jayson Love @ DoubleGSports: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me Amanda

Amanda Leve: Absolutely!

JLGG: So I am sure you are tired of answering this question, but talk about the experience of being denied the opportunity to wrestle for the boys wrestling team in high school.

AL: I’ll answer anything! Well it was annoying that the archdiocese wouldn’t let me wrestle do to “intimacy”. I mean I wasn’t there to find a boyfriend. (laughs) but I had the support of all my classmates and some of the teachers which was really empowering. I was on the news a few times but it never really worked out. It’s ok though because I know that it would make me better but at the same time I knew it would be taking me away from Jiu Jitsu and i love Jiu Jitsu and rather be doing that. It just made me mad that the archdiocese is basically sexist towards women.

JLGG: Are you considering trying to wrestle in college?

AL: No, I am going to take courses for EMT certification and take courses at Bucks community college for fire science which is basically how to become a firefighter.  Then eventually I hope to get into the Philadelphia Fire academy.

JLGG: So grappling is going to be more of a hobby or are you trying to train for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

AL: No, I am going to train for MMA this summer.

JLGG: What are some of the things you need to work on before competing in MMA?

AL: My stand up, ground and pound, and just getting punched in general.  (laughs).

JLGG: Do you feel like it’s tougher or easier as a woman in this arena of MMA and Jiu Jitsu grappling? Why or why not?

AL: I think in MMA it’s tougher for women because I feel like sometimes your popularity is just based off of your looks not so much skill. In grappling, I believe it is easier for women because I feel like that grapplers/Jiu Jitsu practitioners in general are more impressed with skill than looks.

JLGG:  In competition you have had the experience of both beating and losing to men. The internet seems to sensationalize when a woman beats a man in grappling how do you feel about that?

AL: Well, it’s Jiu Jitsu. People who don’t know Jiu Jitsu do not understand the whole fact that Jiu Jitsu is made for the little weaker guy to beat the bigger stronger guy. There’s so many guys that train and so few girls that it bound for a girl to beat a guy. The way I think people need to look at it is [by] who is the better grappler and disregard gender.

JLGG: Who are some of your influences in MMA?

AL: [S]ome of my influences are GSP [George St. Pierre] because of how humble he is. Frankie Edgar who is part of my team but also has stamina and heart like no one I’ve ever seen.

JLGG: How about some of your influences in the world of BJJ and grappling?

AL: Some of my Jiu Jitsu influences are Makenzie Dern…She’s a beast! And my professor Ricardo Almeida

JLGG: Is there anyone you want to mention before we go?

AL: Thanks! .I would like to thank my dad and uncle for always supporting me and getting me started.

JLGG: It was wonderful getting to know you. Best of luck!

AL: Thank you so much for interviewing me! It’s an honor!

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