Speaker's Profile


Jerome Le Banner

Legendary K1 Fighter

Jérôme Le Banner was born December 26th 1972 into a modest family in Le Havre, France. His father was a truck driver and incidentally a semi professional boxer, his mother a warehousewoman. Young Jérôme started practicing martial arts with Judo at age 6. He showed great potential but a disagreement between his father and some judges during a competition put an early end to Jérôme’s career in this sport.

Jérôme was 14 when he discovered a movie and an actor that would have a considerable influence on his life; it was indeed after watching Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury that LeBanner enrolled in karate classes, as he wanted to follow the footsteps of the man who became his role model. Young Le Banner devoured books and magazines dedicated to the Little Dragon, even putting his power hand in the lead as teached in Jet Kun Do, Bruce Lee’s own fighting style. Even today Jérôme has kept his characteristic southpaw stance while he’s naturally right handed.

His other influence was of course his father. Nicknamed the Normandy Bull, he was a feared fighter inside and outside the ring. Jérôme dreamt of following his father’s example as all sons do, he wanted to box, but his mother was firmly opposed to it as she saw her husband’s face when he came back from his fights and wanted to protect her son. Jérôme would have to wait and reach majority before he could enrol in a full contact club.

Thus Le Banner was 18 when his fighting career really started, under René Pollet’s orders. And soon people started hearing about him. He became the french full contact heavyweight champion, won the ISKA european championship against Stéphane Réveillon before accomplishing the greatest feat of his young career when he beat Mike Bernardo in Cape Town for the intercontinental title at a time when the South African was feared by everybody. We’re in 1995, Le Banner had a 22-0 record with 19 wins coming by the way of knock out, and his career would soon take a decisive turn.

In May of the same year Le Banner was invited to participate in K-1, a great Japanese tournament for heavyweights whose purpose’s to determine who’s the best fighter in the world. After training with Rober Rite, a muay thai specialist, Jérôme made a devastating debut in the K-1 circuit, koing in the same night the japanese star Masaaki Satake and Mike Bernardo. He lost in the final against Peter Aerts, but it all started here: LeBanner made his first steps in a world he would contribute to bring into mainstream.

10 years later Jérôme Le Banner is widely considered as K-1 and kickoxing’s biggest star. He’s immensely popular in Japan that has now became his second country. He had a daughter called Victoria, he defeated some of the biggest names in the heavyweight kickboxing world, yet he still has many challenges to take up and many battles to fight. After a serious injury that kept him away from the rings for nearly two years, Le Banner is back, willing to make up for the lost time and finally get the only title lacking in his impressive career: the K-1 champion’s belt.

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■Move and Fight - Jérome LE BANNER