The Harry Potter movies - to say nothing of the books and empire, generally - are one of the most successful franchises in the history of cinema. One of the actors who appeared in all eight films as Gregory Goyle is Josh Herdman. Now 28, Herdman recently won his amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) debut in London, England, defeating Janusz Walachowski via unanimous decision.
But just how did a staple of the Harry Potter series end up fighting in MMA and where does he want to go? Herdman was a guest on SiriusXM's 'The Luke Thomas Show' last week and discussed how he got into MMA, dealing with life as a child actor turned fighter, if he'd accept an offer from the UFC should they come calling and more.
Partial audio and transcript of our conversation below:
You've been making a ton of headlines. How did this all of a sudden happen now? I'm assuming you've been training for a while.
Yeah, it was really [this most recent fight]. I've been training traditional Japanese ju-jitsu for nearly five years now, but obviously in that time I started watching UFC and got really into watching mixed martial arts as well, as I was doing my martial arts.
I was always training the ju-jitsu, but I always had it as a goal of mine to get in the cage at some point. My dad was a professional boxer. I'm the youngest of four. Two of both of my brothers have both boxed at the amateur level. So, it's kind of been like a goal of mine to get in there and just see what it feels like. Like, an initiation type thing. I've always wanted to do that.
It made sense to move into MMA. I got my black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu. I just wanted to fight, you know?
There were some folks on Facebook that found me posting about it. Where do you train for your fights?
I train at a club called Pro Mai MMA Academy, actually in Felton, which is kind of like greater London. I've been training with Lee Aylet, he's the head trainer of the club.
I think those are the guys who commented on my post. It's a small world.
He's a big fan of yours, a very big fan of yours. He texted me earlier saying, 'You're going to be on his show, right?' I was like, 'Yes,' because it's all really quite surreal, you know? I said to him, 'It feels a bit silly.' This is my first amateur fight and I'm speaking to a prestigious MMA journalist like yourself.
But I know it's Harry Potter and I know it's a quite interesting story and I know how big Harry Potter is.
LT: What is your connection to Brad Pickett? Your coach mentioned Brad Pickett gave you Fight of the Night honors. Was he a commentator for that show?
No, he fights in the UFC, but he's one of the coaches at Team Titan, which is like a professional MMA gym in London. He fought maybe like a month ago in the UFC...
LT: On this Bisping vs. Silva show.
Yes! It was his show. He promotes as well. When I told my coach Lee that I wanted to fight in January, this kind of came up. I'd seen bits of the last show, the first one, Rise of Champions. It was a really well organized show. It was the perfect thing to do.
LT: Where are you taking this? I understand you're still an actor. You still want to make that a part of your life, understandably. Do you know how far you want to take this?
The way I saw it is that I would like to have at least three or four amateur fights. It's not like I set out and said, 'Yeah, I want to be a professional in MMA. I want to do this. I want to do that.' Even though I know there are people out there who do have those sort of goals. I don't, really. I'm kind of just seeing how it goes, if you know what I mean.
I know that I definitely want to do it again. I'm definitely going to be doing Rise of Champions again in October. I want to get one more fight in between that.
Once I've had four or five amateur fights, I'm just going to think about things and see if I want to take it further.
CM Punk was a celebrity first and a fighter second. Do you empathize with him at all?
I'm not 100 percent familiar with CM Punk.
He's the professional wrestler who is going to be fighting in the UFC, who has literally no amateur or professional fights at all. I guess what I'm wondering is what is that challenge of being a celebrity first like for you?
His name sounds familiar, but I'm not familiar with his actual story.
I kind of expected it, in a way. Even when I was a kid and I was doing the Harry Potter stuff and we'd have to do the media circuit, like the TV shows. Naturally, deep down, I'm quite a shy person. I've always struggled a little bit with the attention that Harry Potter brought. When this story came out in the papers over here like yesterday, I kind of didn't mind.
I didn't mind because it's fighting and it's cool. At the same time, the attention, yeah, I still kind of struggle with the attention a bit, but I know it's part and parcel because of what I did. I know it's an interesting story, a Harry Potter actor who did all the films and is now fighting. People are like, 'Whoa, that's weird.' A lot of people don't understand why.
If things go well in your amateur career and the UFC came calling and matched you appropriately, is that something you would take?
Probably, yes, to be honest. I would. Like I said, I want to have a few amateur fights and see how it goes. It's not something I've ruled out.
The Luke Thomas Show airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on SiriusXM RUSH 93.