Hail To The CHIEF!
He would fight anyone, anywhere, anytime... in his prime. But after being counted out by referee Dan Stell while on 1 knee this last weekend, Two Time IKF World Champion (And holder of MANY other World Titles, something in the relm of 6-7 total) Danny "Hard As" Steele has made the decision to retire from the fighting ring.
Steele had taken about two years off from fighting to deal with some personal issues and when he returned to the ring, he was never the same "Danny Steele" we all remember in the 90's. In his final bout against San Francisco's Michael Mananquil in San Jose, California USA this past Friday night, Steele saw himself about 10 years ago. At one point during the bout, the fans were chanting for his opponent and Steele looked up at them as if to say, "That use to be my name they were chanting." If he was wondering that, which we don't actually know if he was, he was right.
Steele entertained THOUSANDS around the world on every continent. In doing so he won titles with every major kickboxing organization as well as some we have never heard of (IKF, WKA, ISKA, ICHKA, NAMKA, IKKC & the IKBL) on his was to compiling a fight record of 37 wins and 13 loses, 2 draws with 28 of his wins coming by way of KO or TKO. Keep in mind that half of his 13 loses came in the past 3 years. Of the other loses, they came against top warriors, as did over 90% of his wins. Some came from such greats as Coban Lookchaomaesithong, George Tsutsui, Matee Jedeepitak, Bilam Nesradine, Patrick Erikson, Miguel Reyes, Dave Horvath, Melvin Murray, Bouy Chowaikun, Rob McCullough, Malaipet Sitpraphrom, Kenichi Ogata, Kader Marouf, Say Ming Boupha, and Sebastian Farina just to name a few. One of those great match-ups over the years was Danny vs.Melcor Menor. They have met a few times in the ring and thanks to Mike Miles, here is a clip from their match up in Hawaii CLICK HERE.
As we mentioned, Steele NEVER dodged anyone in his prime. We say in his prime because he was forced to pull out of some bouts in the last few years, mainly due to some personal issues he was dealing with.
Probably the most high profile of those matches he pulled out of was a match-up between him and Trevor 'T.N.T' Smandych (Left) of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Smandych was a former two time IKF Amateur Muay Thai Champion (IKF Intercontinental Light Welterweight and IKF North American Welterweight Muay Thai Champion.) with an impressive pro record of 18-1-1 and an amateur record of 11-4-1. Fighting Danny Steele was a dream come true for him. However, weight and personal issues prevented Steele from showing on fight day and if anything, it took away some of the fire in what had hoped to be Smandych's dream bout. At the event, Smandych was on the verge of tears during his presentment of the WKA title they were to fight for, by default. However, he pushed the belt away and would not accept it.
Unlike the Smandych fight, this last weekend Danny came to fight. Although he was dominated in every round, Steele stayed tough, as he always has. Steele earned his nickname "Hard As" from the strength and power of his legs mainly. His two most powerful weapons that retired plenty of fighters in his time. Steele could take anything you gave him too. In fact, this past weekend was the only time we can remember EVER seeing him go to the canvas. The first shock came in the first round when he was dropped by a head kick in the opening seconds against Michael Mananquil. From that point on, it seemed he just never fully recovered from the blow. He was caught again in the 5th round and went down again. Although he didn't look to be hurt, Steele came up to one knee and while there, allowed Referee Dan Stell to give him the full 10 count. When the count was over Steele stood up and knew his time had come. He was at a different place in his life both mentally and physically and the younger Mananquil did what many new stars in our sport have done such as Carter Williams had done with Michael McDonald and Rick Roufus. He became a super star by defeating a legend.
After the bout, I greeted Danny at the bottom of the stairs. He told me "I just can't do it anymore. I'm just not the same." I told him how proud I was to know the "REAL" Danny Steele and how thankful I was to be a part of his great career. He responded in pure Danny Steele fashion, with a heart felt "Thank You."
I wondered how many new fans of the sport watching that night wondered if "This" was the Danny Steele they had heard of? To answer them, "Not even Close!" I felt sorry for those who missed Danny when he was in his prime. Those who missed his strength in the ring, his pride and most of all, his Passion for everything he did in his life. Sure we will miss Danny in the ring but he is not gone. I truly hope we have not seen the last of Danny because he can go on now to help many young fighters become a warrior as he was.
Some say Danny Steele was arrogant, cocky, stuck on himself. Well, OF COURSE he was! ALL great fighters share the same attitude. However, what was impressive about Steele, he could always back it up in the ring. Talk to Danny alone and he has a heart of GOLD! Although a strong and fierce competitor, he also had a very respectful and friendly side. He made friends with many around the world as he traveled to win over and over again.
Steele won his first IKF World Title, the IKF Pro MTR Light Welterweight World Title, when he defeated Dave Horvath of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada by TKO at 2:53 of round 2 in Fresno, California, USA on July 12th, 1997. To give you an idea of how much his record changed in the last few years, when he won his second IKF world title, the IKF Pro IR Welterweight World Title in Hawaii on July 16th, 1999, Steele's fight record was an impressive 31-5-2. Steele won this IKF title when he defeated Miguel Reyes of Tijauana, Baja CA, Mexico, by unanimous decision, 100-88, 98-91 and 99-91. Yes, over the next 5 years since that second World Title victory, Steele's record was a less impressive 6-8.
Steele was a Kaiser High School (Hawaii) graduate who was born in Vietnam and moved to Hawaii when he was 3. He grew up admiring the martial arts and realized that the prospects for a career in kickboxing in Hawaii weren't very good. So he moved to Los Angeles in 1993 and turned professional shortly thereafter. He was quoted prior to the Reyes fight as saying,
"I'm very confident -- not in a cocky way, but in a way that I feel that nobody will get in the way of what I have to accomplish," he said. "I'm not going to take anyone lightly. When you get too confident, that's when (bad) things can happen. It's happened before, so I'm not taking Miguel lightly. But I have enough confidence where I think he's not on my level."
There was something about Danny Steele though that was
different than any other fighter... OK, A LOT of things. But what I remember
most was that he would always tell the crowd, "Thank you for supporting
me and this event," And if not to the crowd over the microphone, he
would later ask me and many others, "Did you
enjoy the show?"
"We have ALWAYS Enjoyed The
Danny 'HARD AS' Steel Show!