Actor, model and mixed martial arts fighter Peter Davis tells Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan about his passions and how he strives to be good at them allWHEN mixed martial arts fighter Peter Davis stepped out of his muay thai studio in Petaling Jaya to change clothes for this photo shoot, he left his fighting gloves behind, much to the amusement of his fellow fighters, who had just completed an intensive circuit training.
“We should sell his gloves,” said one guy in boxing shorts and washboard abs.
“Yeah, we should sell them to those girls who screamed Peter Dayyveeeesss,” said another, before the pair burst into boyish laughter.
That Davis is good-looking is a given. That his peers know that some women sit in the arena not so much to watch his fighting skills but enjoy his good looks is like saying the grass is green.
Davis is very much aware of this too, but he says he never lets his Caucasian-Asian looks become the sole determinant of his career. Which explains his passion for mixed martial arts, where he tries to make himself as fit as he possibly can, and put himself through rigorous training and injuries so he can see how much his body can handle.
But today, on a rainy afternoon, with Davis sitting in front of me in just boxing shorts with sweat profusely dripping from his face down his flat abs, I feel like I am the one with too much to handle. Ah, the burden of being a writer.
Davis speaks fast, much faster that I can write and his brain seems compartmentalised into several modes — model, actor, MMA fighter, car enthusiast and mountain biker — just to name a few.
Born to an English father and Malaysian mother, Davis, 32, is at ease being a jack of all trades but maintains that he is not a “master of none”.
“I try to be very good at everything I do,” he says. “And right now, my focus is on fighting. The grappling, the throws, the adrenaline... it keeps me in shape, it keeps me fit,” he says.
Today, he is in nutrition and fitness mode, and while he may not be certified to talk about food, his job as a professional fighter means he has to meticulously monitor his food intake to ensure his performance in the ring.
“Your body is your only and your most valuable machine. Feed it well and it can achieve amazing strength,” Davis’s food regime is the kind that doesn’t go down too well with nutritionists who promote eating according to the food pyramid. His diet, to a layman, may sound a bit extreme — very little carbohydrates and high in protein, fruit and vegetables.
He abstains from carbohydrates after 6pm. He doesn’t make rice his staple food. If he must, he eats brown rice. He doesn’t eat white bread. He avoids sugar and oil.
“If you want a lean body, eat clean. But if you want a buffed up look, take up exercise. MMA is good for building strength and muscles,” he says.
He has his breakfast — oats, flaxseed and protein powder, blended with water — at 6am. For lunch, it’s usually half-boiled egg whites with lemon tea.
During non-fighting periods like today, he’ll occasionally indulge. And this afternoon, his indulgences are ice cream and coffee.
“Coffee burns fat but drink too much and it gives you heart palpitations which are bad, especially if you are working out,” he says.
At 80kg, Davis maintains a body fat percentage of 10 to 12 per cent during off peak season. When he starts training for fights, he builds up his muscles and his body fat percentage hovers around four per cent, and that’s only two per cent more than the body of ultramarathon champion Dean Karnazes.
While most people do not intentionally go into fitness to get physically hurt, Davis did just that at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket in a super-intensive fighter training camp which was basically a time of “training, eating and passing out”.
“There was MMA, muay thai, jujitsu and I was beaten up a bit,” he says.
At a recent fight, Davis broke an eardrum. He suffered a black eye and a scan before and after his fight also showed that he suffered a punched neck.
Doesn’t he think that all that is too much for him to suffer physically?
“Fighting is a dangerous sport but it’s also amazing to experience what the human body can do,” he says.
“That said, MMA or muay thai is not for everyone. Exercise, like diet, is about doing something you enjoy. A chore will not work in the long run.”
Peter Davis’ fruit picks
• Banana for potassium and carbohydrates
• Dragonfruit for antioxidants
• Fuji apples for instant pick-me-up
• Blueberries for antioxidants
• Grapes for antioxidants
Tip: Blend dragonfruit, grapes and blueberries for a delicious smoothie packed with vitamin C.
Dishes to avoid
• Chicken feet
• Anything deep fried
• Char kway teow
• Fried noodles
• Fried rice
Earlier this year, Davis was appointed the ambassador for Gillette Fusion ProGlide shaving system and while he admits that he does not pay much attention to skincare, the brand is close to him.
As a young man, he used to borrow his father’s Mach 5 to shave and the latest shaver that he fronts, he says, cuts well and doesn’t irritate his skin. “I like shaving when it just glides across and doesn’t pull on the skin,” he says.
“To me, skincare has to be effective, simple and functional. It should not take too much of my time but should leave me feeling clean and looking good,” he says.
A father to a 3-year-old son, Davis prefers acting to fighting since it pays better but being a fighter will pave the way for his acting career.
“More roles will open up for me if I am a fighter and an actor, and being a fighter is a good career progression.
“It’s an evolution of what I do.”
After the interview, he is off to the city to model at a fashion show and at 11pm, he will drive off to his drama shoot. He doesn’t find his commitments overwhelming, he says, because he is very focused in what he does. “I just go into my role, do my best and move on to the next one. That way, nothing clutters my head.”
Six steps for best shave
1. Shower, bathe or exfoliate before you shave. This helps to remove natural oils, perspiration and dry skin cells that inhibit water penetration.
2. Apply plenty of shave gel. It provides a protective blanket that prevents the evaporation of water and keeps hair soft during the shave.
3. Use a light touch. Use light, gentle strokes while shaving.
4. Make sure your blade is fresh.
5. Shave hard-to-reach-spots last. Shave chin and around the lips last since more time soaking will make these coarse hair softer.
6. Rinsing is important. After the shave, rinse face and neck with cool water. Rinse blade and shake of excess water before storing.