Richie Vas, Surfing Warrior

posted by / Blogs / November 11, 2011

Fighting Fear


Richie Vas is a Maroubra local, surfer and mixed martial artist. He has fought in prize bouts since 2007. He is making a surf film, Fighting Fear, with Mark Matthews. It is being filmed in Tasmania, West Australia, Hawaii. Ours. Massive waves. Pits. He once fought for the CFC World Bantam Weight Title but was beaten on points. He is a purple belt in Jiu Juitsu.

He is a small man, a nugget, fighting in the 62-65 kilo range. Right ear cauliflowered. He hopes it goes flat before his next fight. His hair is brown and close cropped. His nose looks punched on as does his left eye. Both eyes are kind.

He first got into fighting, like lots of the Bra Boys, a few years ago. They would watch Ultimate Fighting Championships and then fight, after surfs, in each other’s backyards. Sometimes they would fight in the Maroubra Surf Club. He became serious about it and speaks here.

“It takes lots of commitment to become a fighter. A lot of MMA athletes come from a karate background. Or wrestling. They grew up with that discipline. I’ve just always been a surfer. That discipline doesn’t exist. Discipline in surfing is going to the pub and having a few beers. I still consider myself a surfer. MMA has just come off the last three years. Ask me again in a couple more years though…Yeah, I’d like to fight overseas. Fight in bigger fights with bigger purses. Fight in Japan and America. People assume you have to do one or the other, surf or fight, but I reckon they compliment each other good. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do both. To train, fight and surf. All my surfing mates are interested in MMA fights. There is quite a bit of cross-over, especially in Hawaii. We used to train at Koby’s house. We’d make a ring out of legropes. We were only eighteen. Sometimes, if we were surfing and had a disagreement who got what in a heat we’d all go in to the surf club and settle it there. But there’d always be laughs after. You don’t want to look like an idiot who bends all out of shape and hurts someone.”

Richie trains hard. During the Jiu Juitsu session his trainer tells him, “Your take down is very nice but you rush for the head. Sit on the hips. Sit on the hips. Body is first. You are very strong for your weight. Rely on your position, your strength. Go for the hips. Sit on the hips”

During the kickboxing session his trainer doesn’t say much. He is too busy absorbing straight kicks to the stomach.

It was a light day.

I fought Richie Vas in the ring once. He kicked me hard in the kidneys and it felt like a slow death. He punched my nose and stars lit up my horizon. Eventually my arm fell from its socket as I was trying to hit him back. It dangled while I got punched some more.

His film, Fighting Fear, enters theaters this Friday. He is a good man and a good fighter but someday I will pay him back.

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  • Ben

    This film sounds like an atrocity, just as Bra Boys was, an overhyping of some hard-for-Australia but not remotely hard for the USA or Brazil lifestyle, tautologically built upon the residents’ proclamations of toughness. That said, you are correct Chas, the surf-lit consuming public would LOVE a video of you being assaulted.

  • large bra on a boy

    premise = we are 25-30 years old going on 12, partying till the day we die.

    …how hardcore.

    this is about 2 narcissists running rampant and celebrating their “passions”…. great. another ego-driven double d bra boy special with all the trimmings: these guys are poster children for the facebook, twitter, life revolves around me generation.

    and let me guess, some of you want to be shocked by the fighs and in awe of the big waves by two average guys at best. get in the cage… drop in bros….

  • Mik

    nothing repulses me more than logging on to Surfline, and seeing some dudes beating on each other. like, that’s supposed to make me want to use Surfline? I fucking hate that site, and only use it to check a cam or two. i’d shell out and subscribe, but not with UFC bumming me out. and oh, if that sounds lame, i have to ask: ever been seriously beat on??? i’ve been on both sides, and neither is calling me back for more, and neither has anything to do with surfing. if you have a clue, or two… and don’t aggravate the pack.

  • kidmac

    fighting is pretty lame. something could trigger a person in a bar (ur lookin at my girl!) and the next day 2 guys have broken noses and need dental work. seriously not worth glorifying punchups for the groms

  • Nathan Myers

    I went to a premiere of this in Byron Bay last night and thought it was a good documentary. In a Q & A following the movie, director Maca talked about people taking the wrong message away from his Bra Boys movie — that being, the glorification of brawling — and wanted to amend that with this film.

    The are some great sequences in the movie: including great Phantom footage both from Shipsterns with Mark and inside the octogon with Richie — intense stuff. It also has well done dramatic recreations, interesting interviews, and a compelling story with a clear message. (Yes, MMA is fighting, but it’s organized “sport” — two trained professionals who shake hands before and after.) Richie and Mark both made some big mistakes in their pasts, and Fighting Fear is about learning from them. The movie was honest…which is probably the most crucial ingredient for a good documentary. I thought it was well done.

    That’s my review…having seen it.

  • raymond

    I just read “the review” above, and it seems very cliche at best in how you regard two of my countrymen (that have certain character traits doing exactly what you might expect: be sensational for the camera). What a couple of fine blokes to represent oz. Why don’t they just hunt a crocodile and put on an aboriginal dance? Some people were looking to make some money I suppose. Well, I suppose the preview shows the depth to which these fine men reach.

  • joe pa

    So its about mma and big wave surfing….hmmmmm, I wonder what the movie is about?

  • gumbi

    typical formula…. extreme sports. sell, sell, sell

  • siskel and ebert

    This appears about as worthwhile as “jack and jill.”

  • Seamus

    Anybody in a gang is a loser.

  • BackdooringU

    Shit for shit I suggest this plot: a documentary of ass smith getting beaten up by braboys then group hugging and having some backdoor action with the boys without protection. It could follow up with an ass healing surf at Ours were ass smith goes repeatedly over the falls and break his neck. You can still be a legend ass smith boy but not as a writer.

  • dropping oreos bits in her corn hole

    so was fear fought?
    who won?