This Saturday Josh Herdman, perhaps better known as Draco Malfoy’s trusted lieutenant, Gregory Goyle from the Harry Potter blockbusters; goes from the Quidditch pitch as the Slytherin Beater to the octagon as an MMA fighter, making his amateur debut on Brad Pickett’s Rise of Champions show.
Pitted against fellow debutant, Janusz Walachowski; Herdman’s arrival in the MMA world has effectively slipped under the radar as he looks to establish himself as legitimate prospect in the UK’s welterweight division. I took the opportunity to catch up with the global star as he prepares for life under a very different spotlight.
Addicted OTR: When most people look at your change in career change, I’m sure the first question most will ask would be “why?”. Would you say that to some extent you’re following in your dad’s footsteps, but in mirror image?
Herdman: I’ve never looked at it like that but I guess you’re right in a way. I don’t see it so much as a career change, I still act and am passionate about both acting and fighting. I obviously grew up around sport, looking at my Dad’s newspaper clippings as a kid (Josh’s father, Martin Herdman was a boxer and professional rugby league player prior to pursuing an acting career in his late 20’s), he taught us all how to fight from an early age, I also played rugby from about 6 – 13.
Addicted OTR: Have any of your other four siblings taken up sport as a career?
Herdman: Two of my older brothers have boxed. My brother Jake is an ex-Royal Marine and he boxed for them winning the heavyweight division title. My brother Luke has had several bouts, amateur and unlicensed. He recently fought in the Queensbury Boxing League as a heavyweight.
Addicted OTR: Is this your next career or something you’re doing purely for enjoyment?
Herdman: I’m doing it because I enjoy it, but I also take it very seriously. It’s in my family’s blood. I like competing and pushing my boundaries.
Addicted OTR: So what made you choose MMA over other combat sports?
Herdman: I chose MMA because I love the sport. It’s raw, exciting and unpredictable. I find it more interesting than boxing although I appreciate the beauty and art in boxing. It also made sense to move onto MMA because of my jujitsu training.
Addicted OTR: How long have you been training and who do you train under?
Herdman: I’ve been training traditional Japanese jujitsu for nearly five years and hold a shodan black belt under Sensei Perry at the Bu’sen, although most of my martial arts training has been under Sensei Voloshin at the Anglo Japanese Martial Arts School on Sandycombe Road in Kew. I currently train out of PRO MAI MMA Academy in Feltham under Lee Aylett.
Addicted OTR: What do you know about your opponent and how do you visualise yourself winning?
Herdman: I don’t know much about my opponent at all. I see myself winning via submission. I have knockout power but am very comfortable on the ground too.
Addicted OTR: If this is to be the start of a fighting career, do you think that welterweight will be your natural class?
Herdman: Yes I think welterweight will be the correct weight for me to fight at.
Addicted OTR: As you’re 29 this year, how long do you think you’ll stay an amateur?
Herdman: I would like a few amateur fights first to get me started and where it goes from there, who knows?
Addicted OTR: What made you choose Rise of Champions for your debut?
Herdman: I told Lee in January I wanted to fight and fortunately Rise of Champions came up. I read that the first show was well run and well received; and with someone of Brad Pickett’s stature and experience involved in it I thought it would be a perfect proving ground for me.
Addicted OTR: Who’s your MMA idol?
Herdman: That would have to be GSP (Georges St Pierre). He’s such a great, well rounded fighter and superb athlete.
Addicted OTR: Has you son seen any of your acting roles? If so, what does he think about seeing daddy on the TV?
Herdman: He is 5 so he semi understands although it doesn’t quite register fully yet.
Addicted OTR: What does he think about ‘daddy the fighter’ then?
Herdman: He is quite casual about me fighting really. He is used to me being at training all the time and coming home with bruises and marks. He seems quite interested in the cage itself, again I don’t think it quite registers yet.
Addicted OTR: Your last Potter film was released in 2011, since then you’ve had a few tv and film roles, including most recently starring alongside your dad in the film ‘Sink’. Have you fallen out of love with acting or do you think you’ll go back to it at any point?
Herdman: I haven’t fallen out of love with it, I still have an agent and still go for auditions. It’s just a little bit like playing the lottery for a living.
Addicted OTR: As one of only 14 people who starred in all 8 of the Potter films, you must have a strong opinion on the real life characters of those who featured alongside you. Which one former Potter colleague would you like to manhandle in a cage for 15 minutes and why?
Herdman: I don’t have any beef with any of the cast to be honest, they were all pretty good guys.
Addicted OTR: I’m not letting you off that easily! There must be one. How about Jamie Waylett (fellow Slytherin bully, Vincent Crabbe, who was arrested and imprisoned on drug offences)? His behaviour meant that you ended up dying a fiery death in the Room of Requirement!
Herdman: Ha ha! No, we truly all got on pretty well. Jamie and I didn’t get on in the early days but towards the end he was probably one of my closest friends on set. He’s a really funny guy. He’s a good rapper too.
Addicted OTR: Ok, last question; do you have a fight nickname? Something like ‘The Slytherin Psycho’ or even ‘The Deatheater’?
Herdman: Ha ha! No, no nickname yet. I’m waiting for someone to give me one!
So, readers and Potter fans. Here’s your chance. Please send your suggestions by PM to On The Road with Addicted on either Facebook or Twitter and we’ll pass them onto Josh.
Considering the fame that Herdman found at such an early age, he is one of the nicest and most well adjusted young men I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. If you want to see him make his competitive debut, please visit here to buy a ticket. If the show is anything like their last event, you won’t be disappointed.
Good luck Josh. We hope this is the start of a successful career.