Jeremiah Maestre On How He #SplitFrom the Pack
Where were you raised?
Maestre: I was born in Quezon City, Manila, the Philippines. When I was three, I moved to Northern California. Daly City to be exact. I remember living in a boarding house with my mom, my dad and my cousins all in one room. Watching them work hard and go after that American dream. That really instilled hard work and strong consistency in me, and I never stop driving toward that dream in myself.
That really instilled hard work and strong consistency in me, and I never stop driving toward that dream in myself.
I felt like: we're immigrants coming from a third-world country, and we have the best opportunity in the United States to get after what we want. My mom ended up becoming a real estate agent. My dad ended up opening up his own food business. I was instilled with this passion for sports, and I grew up playing basketball.
What made you move away from the basketball path?
Maestre: MMA was blowing up at the time, and for college I had moved to Southern California – that area was kind of a little mecca for martial arts and combat sports. A friend of mine was training and working at a mixed martial arts gym. I took a class, and I really enjoyed it. I realized it doesn't matter how strong you are, how fast you are, how athletically gifted you are. What mattered is how much work you put into the actual skill of martial arts.
I realized it doesn't matter how strong you are, how fast you are, how athletically gifted you are. What mattered is how much work you put into the actual skill of martial arts.
Despite the danger and the social perception, you stuck with fighting long enough to find the art and science it. What drew you into that world?
Maestre: It's something you have to earn, and nobody can give it to you. You can't buy it. You can't have somebody else gain those skills for you. You have to actually take the time to yourself and put in the work to learn those skills. That's what I love about it. It gives back what you put into it.
Your car is your sneakers. It represents what you're about.
Your path took another major swerve – you split from the booming MMA industry to focus exclusively on boxing, a much more classic sport. How did that come about?
Maestre: It wasn't until I found an old-school, traditional-style Mexican boxing coach. I realized how hard boxing really was compared to all the other martial arts. I really couldn't muscle my way through it. It took technique and time, repetition and patience. I was horrible at it off the bat, but I recognized however much work I put into it, it would pay off in the ring. That’s when I fell in love with boxing. I stopped mixed martial arts and just stuck with boxing and the science of it. I felt it was almost like a gentleman's sport.
Along with your passion for boxing, you also have an outside love for sneaker culture. What are the origins of that?
Maestre: If the athletes and the people that I looked up to were wearing them, I wanted them. If I would have put it on my foot, I'd feel like I would play better. Because I looked better, I would feel better.
What has NYC brought out in you? This is ground zero for sneaker culture, among other things.
Maestre: Your car is your sneakers. It represents what you're about. If you've got the newest sneaker on the first day of the release, it probably shows you know somebody and you follow the trends like that. If you pick up this sneaker a year later and realize, “Look, I actually like this sneaker. I just like the way it looks,” it shows you're more into your style and your fashion, and what looks good on you.
Competition is fierce in NYC, for fitness and for everything else. There are a million hopefuls trying to make it. How do you set yourself apart from the pack?
Maestre: People will also recognize me, and I will always recognize myself, as somebody who will always do whatever he wants to do, when he wants to do it and won't let anyone stop me. No rules and no guidelines. No regulations or anything. Obviously, if I stay true to who I am and wanting to be a better person, I'm not going to be burning down buildings and breaking laws and doing whatever the hell I want, but I want to be the best version of myself. I will do whatever it takes and by all means to get there.
I will always recognize myself, as somebody who will always do whatever he wants to do, when he wants to do it and won't let anyone stop me.