Dennis "The Terminator" Alexio interview with Clay Roueche

This interview with the legendary Dennis Alexio was conducted by a life long martial artist named Clay Roueche from Vancouver, B.C.  Mr. Roueche is currently serving time in federal prison on drug charges. More recently Mr. Roueche was granted a 6 year reduction in his sentence due to a change in law. Because of his sentence reduction his security level dropped which caused him to get shipped to a low security prison in Safford, Arizona.

Ironically kickboxing great Dennis Alexio is also at the same federal prison in Safford, Arizona. As if by fate, Mr. Roueche was placed in a bunk right next to the champ. Immediately Dennis and Clay established a bond which formed into a life long friendship. If this didn't happen this interview would not have been possible and the martial arts community wouldn't be blessed with this material. This is a true gift to everyone that loves combat sports.

To fully understand the story behind Clay Roueche and why this interview is so pivotal it should be known that his time in prison has not been wasted. He wrote a self help book, became an accomplished oil painter, completed various betterment courses, and established a school of martial arts called Combined Combat Systems.

While incarcerated Mr. Roueche had the opportunity meet with other high level martial artists from a variety of different disciplines. Many of those same individuals have been released from prison and become success stories.

Dennis "The Terminator" Alexio is an American Legend that should not be in prison, he should be out in the world blessing people with his priceless knowledge. Dennis needs no introduction however there is many things about him that must be said. Most people know of him from the movie kickboxer where he played Jean Claude Van Damne's brother. However his kickboxing record is out of this world. He's considered by many to be the greatest of all time! He held titles in three weight classes, light heavy weight, cruiser weight, and heavy weight. He held 13 different belts and his knockout percentage was off the charts.

He had 70 fights with one controversial loss, more impressively 65 of those fights were won by knockout. He's an icon in the kickboxing world and he deserves every bit of credit for blessing the sport the way he did. Legends are never forgotten but sometimes even legends need help fighting for their freedom.

 Fight Farm recently posted a tribute video on Facebook showing clips from Dennis Alexio's impressive career.

CR   First off, my partner Spirit and I would like to thank you on behalf of CCS for taking the time to answer my questions. We both feel it's a wonderful thing you're doing for the martial arts community because everyone needs to know your story.

DTA  My pleasure, I like what you guys are doing down at CCS and I enjoy supporting this type of cause.

CR  Your a legend in the sport and considered The Greatest of All Time by many. Needless to say this is a great honor and we appreciate this more than words can express.

DTA  Thank you

CR  During the time I have spent in your presence I have learned so much and the knowledge you have is priceless. How do you feel about the direction martial arts has taken in this day and age?

DTA  I respect all martial arts and I think there is something good that can be obtained from each discipline.

CR  Fair enough, how do you feel about boxing as it is today?

DTA  I feel like the science of boxing is becoming a lost art. The fundamentals are not being taught like they were in the past. There's also other reasons like the popularity of MMA, the lack of a leader in the sport of boxing, and politics. Don't get me wrong there's some very talented fighters out there but there's something lacking.

CR  Speaking of fundamentals, you learned your boxing skills from the Jack Blackburn line which also was taught to former Heavy weight Champions Joe Louis and George Foreman is that correct?

DTA That is correct, I feel I had the best trainers in the world.

CR  Without a doubt your trainers were second to none! Who was your very first martial arts instructor?

DTA  My first teacher Steven Clarke was a Chuck Norris black belt who had 4-0 record with 4 wins by knockout as part of Chuck Norris first full contact karate fight team. Interestingly enough back than Benny "The Jet" was on the same fight team as Steve. The reason he had only 4 fights was because he went to prison for 10 years. I had met him after he did his 10 year prison sentence in San Quentin.

CR He sounds like a very tough guy.

DTA He was as tough as they come, he was fast, powerful, and lethal. No one was kicking his ass.

CR  How about your other trainers? . What was the story behind your first kickboxing match?

DTA  I started out in point fighting where I had made friends with a Kajukempo stylist named Eugene Ray. He was a great athlete and martial artist. I seen a flyer for full contact karate and I said to myself this is what I want to do. They threw me to the wolves for my first fight by matching me with a very experienced accomplished fighter but I prevailed. Eugene cornered me for that fight.

CR How about your boxing trainers?

DTA  I was introduced to Al Lagardo by Eugene Ray. Al Lagardo was trained by Dick Saddler who trained George Foreman and Dick Saddler was trained by Jack Blackburn who trained Joe Louis. Dick Saddler actually told me that no one could copy or emulate the way that Al trained people, Dick said Al was one of a kind. I agree with what Dick said.

CR Wow! That's amazing. I have to ask, how did you get involved in the movie industry?

DTA  It was through another kickboxing trainer I had by the name of Harold Diamond. He was an excellent trainer, a dear friend, and an inspiration. His background was mainly in Muay Thai.

CR Is he how you got involved with the movie Kickboxer with Jean Claude Van Damne?

DTA  Yeah, he cornered me for a few fights, one was for the ISKA heavyweight championship against a tough Texan by the name of Jeff Hollins in Denver Colorado. At a later date he asked me if I would come with him to read a script for a part. I went down and did what was asked of me, the rest is history.

CR  History indeed! Did the producers for Kickboxer come to any of your fights?

DTA  Yeah they did! The guys that produced Kickboxer from Kings Road Entertainment watched me defend my title against Al Mims from Louisiana. Al was a game fighter, tough and ready to get down!

CR  That was a very vicious knockout with a left leg roundhouse to the neck, they must of been impressed?

DTA  They really enjoyed the show and they were very excited when I won the way I did, I still remember the story the next day in the Denver Post, the title was "Color Him Gone" because I was wearing neon yellow safety kicks and they had a photo of the kick I landed.

CR  That was a devastating image, seeing a win by knockout is always exciting.

DTA  Everyone loves the brutality of it, that's what the fan want to see.

CR  I agree. Did Harold Diamond play a part in any notable movies?

DTA  Yeah he was in the stick fighting scene with Sylvester Stallone for Rambo III.

CR  That's very cool. Your life must of been so exciting when this was all happening. Was there any interesting events that happened while you were filming "Kickboxer" in Thailand?

DTA  I was inside a stadium about 18 miles outside of Bangkok and a Thai trainer was holding the pads for me while I kicked them in front of a crowd of over 2000 people. I put on a good show and the Thai fans went crazy. The movie directors were trying to get me to stop but the fans were going crazy so I kept kicking the hell out of the pads for them.

CR That footage would be amazing! I am imagining the sound of your shins hitting the pads echoing throughout the stadium, it would of been absolute pandemonium, not to mention I think many of the Thai fans knew you were the real deal Heavyweight Champion of the world.

DTA  Yeah they knew who I was! I don't think they got any footage of it but it would of been pretty cool. The Thai fans were amazing, their energy was extraordinary, such wonderful people!

CR  There's some very cool stuff we discussed that I think the world would enjoy hearing and I would like to touch on that if it's ok with you.

DTA  Be extremely careful, keep your chin down and your hands up (laughs).

CR  Dually noted! As you already mentioned your original martial arts style was tang soo do. I knew that back kick of yours had to come from a Korean style. I know Steve Clarke was a Chuck Norris black belt but from our private conversations I realized that you didn't meet Chuck Norris through Steve.

DTA  I had a 12 round title defense fight on ESPN against Larry McFaddon in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. After the fight the promoter Karen Turner invited me to an after party where I met Bob Wall, my relationship with Bob developed from that point on. I met Chuck through Bob Wall, they were best friends.

CR  What was your relationship with Bob Wall like ?

DTA  Bob managed me for awhile, he became one of my dearest friends and closest allies in life.

CR That's saying something. I remember reading an interview with Bob Wall in black belt magazine talking about the time he spent working with Bruce Lee in "Enter The Dragon".

DTA  Yeah Bob is a pioneer in the martial arts community and one of the greats, he had contact with people at the highest level.

CR  It's awesome to hear these stories.

DTA  I'm happy to share them.

CR  Is it fair to say Chuck Norris came to many of your fights?

DTA  Yeah! he came to a lot of my fights. In fact he was a color commentator on SHOWTIME in August of 1991 when I defended my undisputed heavy weight title against Jerry Rhome who had previously knocked out Bad Brad Hefton.

CR I believe you knocked out Jerry Rhome early on in that fight?

DTA Yeah I knocked him out in the 4th round but he was out on his feet at the end of the 3rd round and saved by the bell.

CR  Chuck Norris was beside the other commentator Sam Smith and was heard saying they needed to stop the fight before Jerry got seriously hurt.

DTA  Yeah Chuck did say something along those lines, him and Sam Smith did such a great job for that event. I feel that event was the best promotion ever done for the sport of kickboxing. The presentation and the quality of the production was of the highest magnitude.

CR  That fight can be viewed on line and the footage speaks for itself.

DTA  Absolutely! I was very blessed and fortunate to head that phenomenal promotion.

CR  Jerry Rhome was a sparring partner of Evander Holyfield right?

DTA  Yeah! That's what I heard. Jerry was a great fighter!

CR  All this information is eye opening and I thank you for it. It's very interesting to see the strong ties that boxing and kickboxing share. In one of our private conversations you mentioned that you were getting ready to go to the an after party after the Rhome fight and you stepped into an elevator by yourself and Jerry who was also in the elevator, is it ok if I ask the words that you guys exchanged?

DTA  Sure! All men that enter into the ring deserve their respect because anything can happen. When two gladiators talk after a match there's something very spiritual and moving that takes place, it's a rare, special moment. He looked over at me and calmly said Dennis, Dennis Alexio, the speed, power, and flexibility. He said he had plenty of fight left in him and he would keep fighting, he said his other opponents would be different because there's only one Dennis Alexio. I responded respectfully and I appreciated what he had to say.

CR  That's some pretty deep stuff. I know you're a humble guy but I think it's important I ask you. When he complimented you on your skills did he say something along the lines of you being the best that ever did it?

DTA  Yeah! Something like that.

"Rendering another human being unconscious eliminates all politics." 

CR  What do you think is the most exciting moment in sports today?

DTA  "In all of sports nothing is more exciting than rendering another human being unconscious"; everything else is secondary. The touchdown, home run, and slam dunk cannot overcome the beauty and the brutality of a knockout.

CR I have to agree with you, nothing beats seeing a knockout. Speaking of knockouts your record was 70 wins with one  controversial loss which I felt you clearly won, but most impressively 65 of your victories were by knockout.

DTA  "Rendering another human being unconscious eliminates all politics."

"Every single time I stepped into the ring I was there to get a stoppage."

CR  Was that your plan with each and every fight?

DTA  Every single time I stepped into the ring I was there to get a stoppage, I was never trying to get a decision.

CR  Your record speaks for itself! How did you generate so much power

DTA  Fundamentals man! To generate power and be explosive you have to be on balance. That's why it's so important to sit on your punches. Sitting on your punches gives you leverage and leverage is everything! Repetitive training is also important so your movements become second nature.

"Fundamentals are essential, that's your foundation."

CR You always talk about fundamentals, do you care to explain?

DTA  Sure, fundamentals are essential, that's your foundation. There's good habits and bad habits, when it comes down to crunch time good habits will prevail.

CR What are the good habits to have ? I think today's fighters need to constantly be reminded of these habits.

DTA There's so many basic fundamentals that mean everything. Don't blink, keep your chin tucked, knees bent, balance, elbows tight to your sides, check your temples, proper weight transfer with your punches, breathing and finish all your combo's with your lead hand.

CR  That's definitely great advice. How do you feel about the strength and conditioning of ring athletes?

DTA  Ring athletes must be the best conditioned of all athletes because when they step in the ring their life is on the line. I respected every man I ever got in the ring with because they were putting their life on the line as was I.

"Fatigue will make a coward out of any man."

CR  Indeed their lives were on the line, how did you feel about conditioning in general?

DTA  A fighter better come in shape and ready to fight because fatigue will make a coward out of any man.

"Experience can't be taught it must be acquired."

CR  In some of our previous conversations you mentioned that you took each fight very seriously. Did your wealth of experience prepare you for each encounter?

DTA  Absolutely, experience can't be taught it must be acquired.

CR  You definitely acquired it having fought over 70 fights. Based on our conversations and what I've researched there was some other ring sport athletes that you were trying to fight but never came to be, however I found it very interesting that you fought some of the same opponents. The first was an opponent that had beaten legendary K1 heavyweight champion Ernesto Hoost.

DTA  You mean, Cikatic ? he was Croatian and yes he defeated Ernetso Hoost by knockout.

CR   Your fight with Branko Cikatic was in March of 1992 at the Thomas & Mach arena in Vegas was it not?

DTA   Yeah.

CR  I heard there was many celebrities at that fight and more notably Chuck Norris and your co-star from the movie "Kickboxer"Jean Claude Van Damne.

DTA It was a packed house and yeah all types of celebrities and big name fighters were there.

CR  When you fought Branko Cikatic it looked like you were very annoyed when it appeared that he quit. I saw the referee separate both you guys then tell you to resume fighting, you hit him with what I believe was a left hook and he went down in a state of panic and decided not to get up.

DTA  I wanted to get down and finish it the right way man to man not have him quit like that.

CR  When the announcer put the microphone in your face you could tell you were full of adrenaline and charged up. When the announcer asked you what you thought about the decision you said something along the lines of "what decision? I was kicking his ass and he fucking quit.

DTA   I said that in the heat of the moment, afterwards I heard Chuck wished I didn't say that but I wasn't ready for them to the microphone in my face either.

CR They later ruled you knocked Cikatic out.

DTA Yes they did, but really he quit because he knew what was going to happen and he was trying to avoid it.

CR  How about UFC Hall of Famer Maurice Smith? Didn't you try to make a fight with him?

DTA  Yeah I talked with him about making a fight but it didn't fit into what he had going on at the time, he wanted to wait but nothing ever materialized. Maurice was a very good fighter.

CR  You guys shared some of the same opponents. I believe Lawrence White was one of them. Maurice defeated Lawrence White but not in the fashion you did, you knocked him out inside two rounds. Another testament to your power.

DTA  Thank you, I think that's right. It was natural for to share opponents with all the top fighters because I was the undisputed champion

CR  I did some research and I noticed you had titles with many different organizations. I found ISKA, PKA, PKC, WKC, and FFKA upon review.

DTA  There was many, it's been awhile so I can't honestly remember them all. I did end up having a total of 13 different title belts in the light heavy weight, cruiser weight, and heavy weight divisions.

CR  You held titles in 3 different weight classes?  that's impressive. I'm glad the fans are hearing about this.

DTA  Yeah! I still have all the belts at home.

CR  Because you were undisputed champ you called your own shots and even promoted some of your own fights, is that correct?

DTA Yeah that's right.

CR  Did you ever get approached to fight in K1?

DTA  Yeah I was approached by the owners and promoters for K1 before and after I fought one of their fighters named Masaki Miyamoto.

CR  Masaki Miyamoto was the all Japan karate Champion was he not?

DTA  Yeah!

CR  After the fight you had with him you ended up talking with him in Planet Hollywood in Honolulu right?

DTA  Yeah! He was very disappointed he lost and he called me a dream fighter. He said he tried his best. He was such a warrior and game fighter. The words he said to me were very touching. He left a memorable impression on me.

CR  What ended up happening with the people you talked with from K1?

DTA  They wanted me to go over to Japan and sit ring side to add hype to a future event but they didn't agree to my conditions.

CR  What a loss for K1. I heard that you also had a conversation with Ernesto Hoost one time in Hawaii and he mentioned that everyone told him he needed to fight you if he ever wanted to be considered the best.

DTA  Yeah that's true we had a conversation in Hawaii and he did say something along those lines, he was very respectful, the perfect gentleman, and a great fighter.

CR  The last match up that I think everyone would be really interested in was the one I heard about with Mike Tyson. I know you had fought and knocked out one of Mike's sparring partners on two different occasions, I believe one of them was a second round finish.

DTA  Yeah I stopped Larry Curaton on two different occasions, one of them was a 2nd round finish. He was a durable tough fighter and a classy guy from New Jersey.

CR  So what all happened with the talks about fighting Mike Tyson, was it going to be kickboxing versus boxing?

DTA  Talks about it first started in the early 90's in an interview with Roy Firestone on his show "UP CLOSE" which was on ESPN Sports Center. I can't remember all the exact words but I said I would be happy to get down with Mike. I'm a ring athlete, he's a ring athlete, it would be a great platform. It would of been my skills against his.

CR That would of been a dream fight and very exciting to watch. Why do you think it never came to be?

DTA  Boxing didn't want that type of rivalry at the time, they had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

CR  That makes sense, in MMA they have saying, it says you kick box a boxer, what are your thoughts on that matter?

DTA   That makes perfect sense because a kick boxer that knows how to box has a lot more weapons.

CR  You definitely have killers hands and in my opinion could of easily been undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. You did a lot for the sport of kickboxing.

DTA Thanks man. I appreciate that.

CR  There's something else about your career I think people need to know. During you reign as Champion you defended your title something like 52 times am I right?

DTA  Yeah that sounds about right, after I won the title when I was 18-1 most of my fights were all to defend my title. There may have been a few that weren't title defenses but I was the champ.

CR  That's amazing! There was one more notable fight I would like to ask you about if I may.

DTA  Sure.

CR  For your second to last fight of your career you fought a former heavy weight champion by the name of Anthony "Amp" Elmore, he was about 6'6 260lbs. You were relentless during all 12 rounds of that fight chasing him trying to get the knockout and you finally got it with 10 seconds left in the last round of the fight. What was going through your mind?

DTA  Yeah Anthony was a big man. I was thinking to myself that I'm gonna knock this guy out, I never stopped trying until it happened.

CR  You looked very happy with your hands up in the air when you finally got that knockout, I guess you were celebrating the fact that you never stopped trying to get the knock out and you finally got it right?

DTA  Yeah!

CR  Although you won every round that fight reminded me of the fight between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott when Marciano knocked Walcott out near the end of the fight. Although Rocky landed a right and you landed a left, both punches left a devastating visual affect and the crowd for both fights went crazy.

DTA  Oh that's right! I remember that fight. Marciano pulled that off at the end! The crowd went crazy!

CR  They sure did! And they went crazy in your fight as well! After that fight you had with Anthony Elmore he was in the hospital for 3 days if I'm not correctly mistaken?

DTA  Yeah I went to visit him at the hospital. He had never been knocked out before, they had him heavily medicated but he still had a warriors mentality.  Anthony was a good fighter and very charismatic.

CR  I'm going to switch things up a bit because I know your fans would love to hear your take on combat sports and martial arts in general in today's day and age.

DTA  Yeah Ok, sure!

CR   What do you feel about the grappling sports like wrestling and jiu jitsu?

DTA I think they're awesome disciplines and a must know for MMA.

"Fighting is fighting but one thing is for sure, 100% of all fights start on the feet."

CR  Now-a-days they break MMA down into different categories, for instance stand up, the clinch, and on the ground.

DTA  Fighting is fighting but one thing is for sure 100% of all fights start on the feet.

CR That is very true, I think if you were in a later era you would of definitely been fighting in MMA.

DTA We will never know but that would of definitely been a possibility because a fighter loves to fight.

CR  You looked like you enjoyed what you were doing when you were in the ring. It's awesome to hear these stories and talk about this with you first hand. You often talk about imposing your will in each fight and I thought that was super bad ass, do you care to elaborate on that?

DTA  Sure! "Respect every man that enters into battle!" However when I got into the ring my mind was saying there's no chance in hell for you because here I come. You have to have the right mindset. It's non-negotiable, you administer the pace of the fight, and you impose YOUR WILL...

CR When you were developing as a fighter what was your mindset like?

DTA  I had a thirst for knowledge.

CR I believe you have to have that if you want to improve and clearly you did. I have one last question for you if I may.

DTA  Depends what the question is (laughs) What's the most dangerous type of fighter?

CR  Uh oh! It looks like my plan backfired because I'm the one getting asked a question (laughs).

DTA  The most dangerous fighter is a smart fighter, now you can ask your question (laughs).

"Respect all, fear none."

CR  What was your motto when you stepped into the ring ?

DTA  Respect all, fear none, don't look back, look forward.

CR  That sounds like something a knock out artist would say.

DTA  Yeah! (laughs) It's a dangerous business, I had unparalleled work ethic and drive to be the best I could be. Attitude is everything! I had one goal in mind!

CR  You had a champions mentality there's no question about that because you were the undisputed champion of the world. Thanks so much Champ, such an honor. I think many fight fans around the world will appreciate all these stories you shared with me today.

DTA  Good Job. I'm happy to help anyway I can. I wish you and Spirit all the best of luck and success down at CCS. Good things don't come easy!