Harry Potter had to face more than his share of bullies over the course of seven novels and eight feature films. Throughout all of those adventures, not once did J.K. Rowling dream of setting her protagonist in a cage against an MMA fighter. If an adult Harry were to come face to face with Draco Malfoy’s lumpen minions, Crabbe and Goyle, he might be in for a surprise, especially if he was to encounter Gregory Goyle’s cinematic alter ego, Josh Herdman.
At 28, Herdman’s days as a bully in the world of Harry Potter might be over, but he’s still using intimidation to get things done. Josh Herdman has traded the heady academic atmosphere at Hogwarts for the grit of the cage as an up-and-coming MMA Fighter.
Herdman shared his debut to the world of MMA against fellow newcomer Janusz Walachowski in London late last week. So how did the former tough guy who made Harry Potter’s minutes on the Quidditch pitch a nightmare fare against his rival in the fight cage? The newest aspirant to the U.K.’s pool of welterweights came out on top.
While many Harry Potter fans might assume that Herdeman’s time as a Hogwarts bully informed his choice to go into MMA, the truth is that the emerging cage fighter’s roots in contact sports run deep. In an interview with Chris Emmanuel of AddictedMMA/On The Road, he began training to fight at a young age. Herdman’s father, Martin, was a boxer and professional rugby player, who taught all of his sons the finer points of the sweet science. Two of his brothers grew up to have respectable careers in boxing, one as a Royal Marine, and the other as an amateur unlicensed pugilist.
For the Harry Potter alumnus, being an MMA fighter is more than a nod towards family traditions, or a lark between projects.
“I’m doing it because I enjoy it, but I also take it very seriously. It’s in my family’s blood. I like competing and pushing my boundaries…I chose MMA because I love the sport. It’s raw, exciting and unpredictable. I find it more interesting than boxing although I appreciate the beauty and art in boxing. It also made sense to move onto MMA because of my jujitsu training.”
Jujitsu has been an important part of Herdman’s training regimen for five years and counting. He holds a shodan black belt and works with two different trainers in London who combine the traditional values and techniques of Eastern martial arts with the principles and strategies of Western cage match combat.
MTV’s Madeline Roth reports that acting is not out of the question for the Hampton, London, native. After the Harry Potter franchise ended, Herdman went on to appear in guest and featured roles for a half dozen U.K. television series’ and two movies. He sees his interests and creative drive equally divided between MMA training and bouts and time spent onscreen. While he is making inroads into this other half of his professional life, he would not turn down offers to appear in front of the camera.
“I haven’t fallen out of love with acting. I still have an agent and still go for auditions. It’s just a little bit like playing the lottery for a living. I don’t see it so much as a career change, I am passionate about both acting and fighting.”
When he’s not terrifying his opponents as the latest MMA fighter to show promise, Josh Herdman is nothing like the boy who bullied Harry Potter. In fact, he speaks highly of his fellow Hogwarts alumni. When pressed by the interviewer at AddictedMMA, the adoring father of a 5-year-old boy couldn’t imagine facing any of them, even his former onscreen nemesis, in a cage match.
[Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images]