Fighter Profile: Luke and Andy Costello

Andy Costello
Luke Costello (taking the back)
Each month I have a gander with up and coming British BJJ talent. For the month of May 2010, I would like you to meet the fantastic father and son team of Andy and Luke Costello:


Andy "The Rock" Costello, BJJ brown belt, Pro MMA fighter, chess player, dad.


I’m always interested in successful martial artists who’s kids grow up to be just as, if not more, successful. The various father-son lineages from the Gracie family are obvious examples. But we here in the UK have an outstanding father-son fighting family in the form of Andy Costello and his 20 year-old son Luke. I chat to 43 year-old Andy about MMA, BJJ and, of all things, chess-boxing!

Meerkatsu: Hi Andy, let's kick off with your age, rank and serial number?

Andy Costello: Hi Seymour, I'm 43, BJJ Brown Belt, a Judo Black Belt and former BJA international, South West WKA kickboxing champ, my BJJ record is roughly 24 and 10, I took up MMA at 37 and came out with a 4 and 6 record having fought some tough guys on cage rage.

Meerkatsu: Where do you train and why does it rock?

Andy Costello: I train at Project Mayhem. It rocks because I have assembled a really good team of specialist instructors who teach a really good set of guys. I generally join in the class and I'm learning all the time.

Meerkatsu: So Andy, tell me how proud are you as a dad on Luke, who seems to have achieved so much in such a short space of time?

Andy Costello: I'm incredibly proud of Luke. If anyone asks me how he's doing I instantly light up and keep talking until they forcibly break off the conversation. Folk may think he only came to notice in a short space of time but he has been training hard and making the necessary sacrifices for years and years.

Meerkatsu: Explain to me, just how good is he?

Andy Costello: I firmly believe that he is Britain best BJJ prospect. At the Abu Dhabi trials he tapped two brown belts very quickly. He is unstoppable now in the purple belts. And at twenty he is still improving really quickly.

Meerkatsu: As a dad myself with aspirations to raise a future World Champion (my lad's only 2 so give him a bit of time) - how much of Luke's success is down to you pushing him when he was younger?

Andy Costello: I give Luke a lot of support and encouragement and I think that it has helped. I had my greatest success in Judo where I made the national squad in 5 years of training in the eighties. (MMA and BJJ came too late for me to make a real impression) Luke and I applied the same formula to BJJ as I did to Judo. That is: it doesn’t matter if you lose. You take it in your stride, learn from it and move on.

I took countless losses in Judo but kept coming back better. Luke went through the same process. It's basically a case of planning for success. The losses are part of the journey. You also need to train with the best people you can. I used to travel to the Budokwai and Neil Adams's club in Coventry. Luke did full time Judo at the Bath University centre of excellence, then learnt his BJJ from Pedro and Italo before moving to Birmingham to train full time under Braulio Estima.

At Braulio's he was much younger than his club mates and found it difficult to make new friends. He basically lived in his tiny bedsit. As a teenager you don’t have your full strength and he was training twice a day with powerful adults. He was permanently exhausted. These are the kind of sacrifices that all champions make. Roger Gracie, Braulio, Pedro, Italo. They have all been there: climbing to the top of the world’s most effective single martial art. We are lucky to have these guys in the UK.

Meerkatsu: Andy, do you still compete yourself? What is your most memorable fight, win or lose?

Andy Costello: I still compete. My last mma fight was in November last year which I won. My most memorable BJJ win was against Antonio Junior. He previously had beaten Luke (when Luke was only 17) and went mad celebrating. He was jumping up and down and screaming in Luke’s face like he'd just won the Mundials. Luke always shows his opponents respect and it really annoyed me. Anyway I got to fight him a year later and ground out a horrible win that would have had the BJJ purists in despair. I got 2 points for my takedown then stayed in half guard for seven minutes trying to look busy - try selling that on pay per view! Anyway, when my hand was raised Antonio was grumbling that I hadn’t done any BJJ. He is a terrible sportsman. But he had a point.

My most memorable MMA loss was a battering from James Thompson. I threw him with a nice O Soto but couldn’t keep him in the ensuing scarf hold. I was out of gas and knew I was in the shit as his greasy head began to slide out and I had to clamber back to my feet.

My favourite win was against UFC referee Mark Goddard. He improved after that and went mad trying to get a rematch. The harder he tried to get the rematch the more it put me off agreeing to it!

Meerkatsu: I saw on your website something called chessboxing, what's that all about?

Andy Costello: ChessBoxing is a sport that alternates rounds of Chess with rounds of Boxing. Winner by checkmate or knockout, whichever comes first. The concept comes from a comic book set in the future in which the hero is a Chessboxer. I was a junior chess champion, a really high level player, so I had to give it a go. Luke calls me a ‘Chessboxing clown’ but I don’t care. I love to fight and play chess so I’ve have found my perfect niche.

Meerkatsu: For us more senior guys out there, tell me why BJJ can still benefit a person of more advanced ages?

Andy Costello: BJJ is perfect for the older guy because it is so safe. I had numerous Judo injuries and (touchwood) haven't had one from BJJ. Hobbling around, surgery, pain, these things suck and if you practice BJJ sensibly and tap early in practice you can have a long and happy career.

Meerkatsu: I see you run your own MMA shows, what's that like?

Andy Costello: I co-promote an MMA show called Strength and Honour. It gives my guys a platform on which they can showcase their skills in front of their own City. MMA is a lot about kudos. I find promoting quite stressful.

Meerkatsu: Wow awesome answers Andy, thanks very much for taking the time to speak to me.

Andy Costello: Meerkatsu! Excellent questions! I have really enjoyed this interview. Talking about Luke is probably my favourite subject, closely followed by talking about myself. Global issues come a poor third!!



Interview: Luke Costello, BJJ purple belt, black belt hunter, son.


There are some players on the BJJ tournament scene that you watch and just think, flipping heck, that guy is awesome. I saw one such person at the BJJ British Open – 20 year-old Luke Costello. In his purple belt weight division and open weight categories Luke simply put, smashed his way through anything put in front of him, with style and aplomb. It was quite thrilling to watch. I had to find out more so I stalked Luke on the internet and bugged him with my questions until he finally relented:



Meerkatsu: Hey Luke, congrats on your awesome performance at the BJJ British Open.

Luke Costello: Thanks bro.

Meerkatsu: Let's start off with usual: please provide me your age, rank and serial number?

Luke Costello: I am 20 years old, a purple belt in BJJ. I teach at Project Mayhem, which is my dad's gym, but as it is no-gi I represent Exeter BJJ for gi comps. I previously did a lot of judo and boxing. I’ve won about 30ish BJJ medals and 10 judo medals but I’ve no idea about my WLD record, there’s been too matches to count!

Meerkatsu: You're still really young, shouldn't you be out mugging old ladies instead of mugging poor purple belts out of their gold medals?

Luke Costello: Hahaha, I do feel bad when I take away someone’s opportunity for a medal, especially if they have flown in from abroad but it can’t be helped.

Meerkatsu: Seriously mate, how long have you trained BJJ and how often do you train - what is it about the sport that you love?

Luke Costello: I started BJJ at 16 to assist my judo career but it wasn’t long before the number of judo sessions I did went down and I started concentrating more and more on BJJ. I just always prefered dping groundwork more, even in judo. It’s just a never ending challenge to learn everything, always something new. The people in BJJ are really cool as well, it really is like a family.

Meerkatsu: What is your most memorable BJJ match/tournament - win or lose?

Luke Costello: My most memorable match was at the ADCC European trials 2nd leg in Belgium. In my second fight I fought a French black belt. I caught him with two triangles, two footlocks, two loop chokes, an omoplata and three near sweeps - all good attempts and yet only to get passed in the final seconds. Thing is my family where so proud I was going to Belgium to fight and all my friends where awaiting the results so it was so disappointing to go all that way, fight so well and still lose. Afterwards I felt physically sick. I really, really hate losing, but that’s one of the things that drive me on to succeed. I would just like to thank my sponsors Black Eagle, cos without them, I wouldn’t have been able to compete in Belgium. They are really supportive of me and it’s nice to see somebody help the UKs top fighters.

My most memorable tournament was the ADCC European trials in England. No one expected me to do anything but I submitted two brown belts en route to the final where I lost a good fight to top black belt Nicolas Gregoriades. I was happy because I always knew I had the capability to beat a lot of higher grades and it was nice that I could finally prove my worth in the purple/brown/black belt combined division.

Meerkatsu: How did it feel when you were awarded your purple by Braulio?

Luke Costello: It was a real honour, Braulio is my idol and to get promoted by him was a dream come true. I was also happy I could finally compete in a higher belt class because I’m one of those people that would rather fight the toughest guys out there and potentially lose than stay in a group where I’m winning all the time. The challenge means more to me than medals.

Meerkatsu: What are your goals for the coming year and in the near future?

Luke Costello: My end goal is to be the greatest BJJ fighter in the world. My goal for this year is to win the Mundials.

Meerkatsu: Who do you admire in BJJ?

Luke Costello: I really admire Braulio Estima for what he has achieved. He started with nothing and has conquered the BJJ world as well as built up strong academies. I want to live my life like he has. I also admire Roger Gracie and Marcelo Garcia. I try to mimic these fighters’ styles.

Meerkatsu: You recently won your first MMA fight - how was that?

Luke Costello: Yes it went well, I won in round 1 with a RNC.

Meerkatsu: Doing any more?

Luke Costello: Maybe I will do one day, I don’t know. For now I have other goals in life I want to concentrate on like being the best BJJ fighter I can be.

Meerkatsu: Okay, so which do you like the best - BJJ, nogi, MMA or Playstation - be honest?

Luke Costello: lol, well first off I prefer the xbox 360 to playstation but in terms of which I enjoy most, probably no-gi.

Meerkatsu: How much of an influence and support has your Dad, Andy, been in your martial arts development?

Luke Costello: My dad has been a real support and I owe him a lot. Growing up he used to drive me every fortnight to judo competitions so I could build up invaluable experience which has held me in good stead all these years later. When I decided I wanted to spend my life doing BJJ instead, he never questioned the switch and started driving me to BJJ comps. I can never repay him for what he has done for me. I couldn’t have been born with a better Dad. I have to also thank my mum who has also been amazing, I’m disorganised at best and her brains have saved me many a time! I couldn’t list the amount of times she has helped me and my BJJ career as well.

Meerkatsu: Cheers Luke and I really, really hope I don't ever get to meet you in a purple belt absolutes match LOL!

Luke Costello: Thanks Seymour, id just like to say I really enjoy your website articles and it’s been a real pleasure. Can I finally give a quick shout out to my friend, training partner, moral adviser, party organiser, nick-name giver and all round nutcase Adam 'avatar' Kiely who is a regular reader and fan of your site and who insisted on being mention haha. Thanks again!


ENDS © 2010 Seymour Yang/Meerkatsu
 
Photo credits (from top down): Sherdog, James Olouch-Olunya/Combat BJJ Photography, from Andy Costello, from Andy Costello, from Andy Costello, my photo, my photo.

5 comments:

A.D. McClish said...

Great interviews! Love the idea of chess boxing! Never would have thought to combine the two, but it sounds fun!

The Part Time Grappler said...

Absolutly great interview. The blogger in me is thinking: Wow! that's enough material for 3-4 posts, but of course the reader is very happy and grateful :)

Anonymous said...

haha what a small world. i train with luke at Exeter bjj club!

Anonymous said...

Too many spelling mistakes in that interview

Meerkatsu said...

Yeah, sloppy. I've tightened up my copy a lot recently.