Amanda Leve made national headlines as she was denied taking part of her high school boys’ wrestling team. It hasn’t detoured the BJJ purple belt from making major waves and having the community buzzing about her being the next star in MMA before she even graduates high school.
Her biggest test so far was in the Grapplers’ Quest Superfight tournament in July 2014, where Leve (then a blue belt) faced some of the best adult BJJ fighters in the country. Leve subbed Rahcael Cummins and would have a thrilling 23 minute match with UFC title contender Cat Zingano.
We caught up with Leve to talk about her background and her rise in the sport.
Wombat Sports: Tells us a little about yourself.
Amanda Leve: I have been training for 6 years now. I received my purple belt this past October . I have won multiple NAGA and Grappler’s Quest championships. I hold the women’s absolute title in the Professional Grappling League.
Wombat: What got you interested in getting involved in combat sports?
Leve: I got involved in jiu jitsu because of my uncle and dad. They both loved watching the UFC and figured since I was athletic that I should try it. My first jiu jitsu class i loved it and stuck with it.
W.S.: What do you enjoy about it?
A.L.: I enjoy jiu jitsu because it is an outlet for all my frustrations but also a fun active sport that is technical and that I can achieve goals in.
W.S.: How has your friends and classmates reacted to it?
A.L.: My friends and classmates think it is extremely cool to be involved in a sport like jiu jitsu.
W.S.: How about your family?
A.L.: My family supports me 110% especially my dad and uncle. My mom always gets nervous with the whole thing.
W.S.: Can you tell us about your gym and coaches?
A.L.: I train under Ricardo Almeida. He is an amazing black belt and coach. He cares about all of his students and is willing to help whenever you need him. At Ricardo Almeida’s BJJ it is like one big family. Everyone is so helpful and friendly. Plus the talent at Ricardo’s is world class!
W.S.: What comes naturally to you in fighting? What have you found difficult?
A.L.: What comes naturally to me fighting is the competitiveness and learning. I have always been competitive and I always love to learn new submissions and sweeps.
W.S.: It’s been over a year since you were denied to be a part of the boy’s wrestling team. Are you still wrestling outside of school?
A.L.: I have been denied to be part of the wrestling team at my school but i never wrestled anywhere I just train at my jiu jitsu school.
W.S.: You were impressive last year at the Grappler’s Quest Superfight tournament at the UFC Expo. Can you tell us about being a part of a tournament with such great talent?
A.L.: The Grappler’s Quest Superfight was an amazing experience. At the time I was a blue belt. I love submission only tournaments and the talent of the women was amazing. I was honored to be part of such a great tournament. I was able to win my first match by rear naked choke and then I was able to have a 23 minute match with the great Cat Zingano (highlights here). It was a fantastic battle between the two of us. She eventually caught me in a heel hook. She was by far the strongest woman I have ever competed against.
W.S.: Who do you look up to in fighting?
A.L.: Frankie Edgar and GSP are two fighters I definitely look up too. Frankie Edgar is a member of my team so it is an honor to watch him train and get ready for his wars. He has awesome stand-up and jiu jitsu. GSP has dedication and fitness like no one else. Plus he has respect for his opponents and doesn’t get arrogant. In the jiu jitsu world I would definitely say Makenzie Dern. She is a young woman black belt with great technical skill.
W.S.: How do you feel about the future of females in MMA?
A.L.: The future of WMMA I believe can only get better. Now that women are in the UFC and are getting more publicity soon they will be adding more and more women’s fights. Honestly women’s fights are more aggressive and entertaining anyway!
W.S.: What are your aspirations in fighting?
A.L.: I eventually want to fight MMA and am training for it! Right now I am keeping up with my jiu jitsu and entering as many tournaments as I possibly can!
W.S.: Anyone you’d like to thank/add?
A.L.: I would like to thank my dad and uncle for always pushing me in the greatest sport ever! They never let me quit and made me who I am today! I would like to thank my grandparents for always driving me to train when I couldn’t drive yet. I would like to thank my coaches and all my training partners who help me get better each and everyday! Thank you!
You can follow Amanda Leve on twitter @Amanda_Leve.