It’s been a long time..

Afternoon. It’s been a long time since I sat down to write this blog. . I’ve been pretty busy with general life stuff including moving to a new area of town but suffice to say I’ve still been training. That’s always been the norm.

Things in general have been keeping me on my toes, so despite probably not running as much as I should, not sitting down to write this blog as regularly as I’d like and generally going out far too much it’s good to have martial arts in my life as always.

It’s also been a long time (about a year now) since I stepped foot in the ring and I’ve already decided it’s one of my many goals for 2017. With fighting comes a great deal of commitment, a bit of responsibility to cut out all the bad things in life (alcohol I’m looking in your general direction) and a lot of dedication, and of course graft.

It’s been a long time since I fought and just recently I’ve asked myself if it’s something I’d want to commit to again. Training is always going to be a constant. and fighting is a journey in itself but isn’t as essential as it used to be. It’s a more of a nice to have than I must but being honest, it’s something I’m missing. It’s a good challenge but it’s also good fun. If it wasn’t then there would be no point.

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Shortly after I asked myself if I was still up for it ( I got a mental thumbs up back) I asked myself if I could still find the time. When it comes to finding the time at present, I appear to be up against it and struggling more often than not. I guess really that’s why I’ve been taking training as it comes rather than really pushing myself to get there some days. I’m pleased to say last week was a good week and this week is going to be better.

I currently do a few sessions of Thai a week and I’ve decided to get myself into a little bit of k1 on a Friday. (As of this week)  4 sessions a week is enough to start to get somewhere,  3 just about keeps me ticking over. When I finally pull my finger out I’ll get back into training a little on a Sunday again too. I’m still waiting for Saturday sessions to return at the gym to get that extra bit of work in.

Fighting has always brought out the best in me, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to have a large amount of rust to shake off as and when I do step up again. I’ve known people to take a year or so out before, step back into the ring and it’s like they’ve never been away at all. I guess really it’s down to the individual and it is what it is.

At the moment my main focus is getting myself to a place where I feel comfortable enough and ready enough to consider it as an option, so again a lot of that comprises of consistent training and good fitness. I think I’m going to work on some good plate spinning skills too.

Sparring and training in general is still heading in the right direction but I most certainly want more. There are things that are a lot more important than anything that happens in a boxing ring, but Thai is something I still have a great deal of passion for along with a will to succeed I’m applying to other areas of my life too.

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I’d still like to head out to Europe next year if there’s an opportunity to check out a well known anti racist tournament out there. It’s nice to network with like minded people and the shows look pretty exciting. If taking a bit of time out to check out what they do is going to motivate me to get back into the square ring then can only be a good thing.

Besides, I think at the end of next year I’m just going to want to  be training and I hope when I look back at my journey I can say you know what I’ve done alright, onto the next bit. Regardless of what other people think of what I have or haven’t achieved it’s something that has been and always will be unique to me.

I’m also intending to get my teeth back into my other writing project when I know this one is firmly back on track. There’s a 150 pages of goodness gathering dust on my hard drive and it’s something I’m keen to breath some life back into. We’ll see how that one pans out but it’s getting finished by this time next year latest. Mark my words. Maybe  if time and money permits I’ll get myself out to Thailand for the third time too.

So despite it being a long time since we spoke last, it’s been good to talk to you again. I should get a blog out on Sunday this week.. and as for training well that’s later, and as for running.. well that’s now. Have a great week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Stress buster

This week has been a lot lighter than usual training wise, although I’ve still made a point of running as much as I can. Just like boxing in itself it’s always a good stress reliever. Despite having a slack week I’m back on track next week onwards and instead to spend the best part of the week training.

I’ve talked about intention and focus quite a lot of late, and although it’s great to be able to focus on new goals and challenges in the gym and otherwise it’s also good to be able to let off a little steam from time to time. Having mastered the art of plate spinning over time (they don’t always spin that well) some days it’s good to be able to just train and let it all come off.

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Sitan gym NYC 

When I manage to switch off the internal chatter (that never ending noise we all get accustomed to) and relax a little more than I usually do things seem to come together and most importantly things seem to flow. Just recently the classes at my current gym have been busy and as such I’ve trained with a lot of beginners who aren’t always as quick as I’d like with pads (we all start from somewhere )so I’ve had to slow my techniques down a little.

It’s made me focus a lot more on getting things right rather than hammering away for a few rounds.  I usually try to build up slowly and into a nice solid rhythm on the pads after a round or so. Despite knocking myself for being too slow when I want to be  I’m actually pretty fast, and when I relax and let it go not only do things take shape I also manage to shift what it was on that was on my mind when I stepped through the door.

When I find myself in “the zone” (but not the comfort zone) I realize that 1. I’m not that bad at Thai and  2, Everything else falls away when I’m training hard. It’s like for 2 hours I can put everything down that needs to be put down and just do what I love doing the most. Some days like the great Kevin Ross would say “I just wanna train.”

At the moment the social me and boxing me are meeting nicely in the middle but I want to make sure I’m at the gym at least 4 times a week next week onwards. I know as soon as I get over the just about acceptable mark of a few sessions a week I’m in the realms of potential to really get somewhere again and I’ll find my session 5.  It’s been good to be back at the gym a few times a week of late but as always I want more.

At the moment it feels like I’m carrying a lot of baggage and I’m usually pretty stressed about one thing or another. Life always has it’s ups and downs and there’s a lot of avenues I put my energy into these days. Not being an island and being only human can suck sometimes, but having never really been into failure  I just keep going. Training is always there for me when I need it the most and I’m pleased after all this time it’s still a constant in my life. I never thought I’d have the drive or conviction to stick with anything this long but you know..

So looking at next week I may get another run in tomorrow morning and I’m back at the gym from Tuesday onwards. Fighting as a realistic option is probably going to be next year and again getting in shape and on point again is going to be a goal to work towards in itself. You can be fit but fighting fight is a different kettle of fish. I’m about 50% there at present. Despite the occasional party and too much beer. Still, I’m having fun in and out the gym. I guess that’s the main thing.

I thought I’d leave you this week with a video from the legend that is Kevin Ross. It’s a video I watched a couple of years back and one that makes me smile. Mainly because when I listen to Kevin talk about fighting it tells me one thing. Never give up and follow your heart.  In the meantime, have a good week, train hard and be the best you can be in everything you do. I’ll see  you on that road.

“Life is” Kevin Ross

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It’s not magic.

Morning all. It’s good to sit down and find some time to write before the rest of the day starts. This week has seemed longer than usual but I’m pleased it’s one step closer to Friday. Training last week and this week so far hasn’t been too bad at all and it’s good to have adopted my “be there like it or not” mentality that I’ve been lacking for what seems like forever and a day. Getting to training can sometimes be the hardest part. Usually if you want to do something you’ll find the time.

Of late I’ve found myself getting lost in a few mental negatives that have been kicking around the back of my head (or more like they’ve been kicking me around. Kicking sand in my face like Geoff Thompson would say.) It’s not just related to Thai boxing it’s related to a few things because like most people in life, I’ve usually got a lot going on.

I had a moment of clarity yesterday when I realized that giving myself a hard time over: not writing as much as I was, not training as much as I’d like to, being too boozy and generally feeling pretty slack and counter productive was in effect making mountains out of proverbial mole hills. To tackle each one of the above (and more ) I decided to do what I’ve been doing now for a while. I wrote what I wanted to achieve and what I wanted down.

Seeing the goals of improvement in front of me has helped, and last week and this week has seen training (as an example) head the right way and no doubt there’s going to be a few other things to follow. Rather than giving myself a hard time over not being able to, not being good at or imaging what could happen if.. I’ve decided to just get stuck in and do it. I’ve found when I’ve put my mind to what I’ve wanted to achieve I’ve attracted what I need (borrowing a little Geoff again, thanks by the way🙂 ) the right situations and the right people seem to appear. It’s not magic. It’s just intent.

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When I find myself under a lot of stress whether it comes to competing or otherwise I’ve found that I often internalize and more often than not that can lead to negative thinking. No matter what you do in life, thinking badly about something is never going to do you any favours and just like focusing on a goal, I’ve found it can sometimes make what you don’t want to happen very real. In fact it will often manifest itself.  It’s always amused me how easy it is for people to accept that if you think negative you attract negative things, and yet struggle with the fact that doing the reverse can do quite the opposite.

This  doesn’t mean (contrary to popular belief) floating around in a happy bubble pretending everything is fine, but in my experience is more about staying resolute and determined to achieve what you want. Seeing it happen can often make things happen. When it comes to competing I’ve found that this has always helped in training (fight training especially).

At one point, I used to imagine what it felt like to win to help me overcome nerves and then it got to a point where  I’d even see myself as having won. Effectively I was trying to see just past the point of the fight in itself to the end result. Everything you want is in that ring and all that PMA linfold Christie type stuff.

Which brings me back to the here and now (Thursday morning is rapidly rolling by)and  my moment of clarity. As well as realizing I give myself a hard time over practically everything when under stress, a little voice suddenly reminded me that one of the best way to deal with internal dialogue is to quite simply switch off from it. Let the thoughts pass and don’t engage with them. If they haven’t got substance they can  do me no harm and this is also something that works and I’ve found is pretty useful for dealing with fight nerves.

As soon as the penny dropped (again) I felt a lot better in myself than I had done previously. In fact, it’s fair to say I felt clear headed and focused. It’s a feeling that I’ve carried over into Thursday morning and I know I can keep the negative stuff in check at the drop of a hat when I need to.

It got me thinking about switching off but staying on  a little more in training and is something I think I’m going to keep working on  this week and next. (it’s very easy to over think techniques just like it is situations.) It’s something at points that has served me well fighting and is something that I can apply to the rest of my life too.Staying present and in the now is the key.

Like with everything else it’s a work in a progress. So looking at the remainder of the week, I’m back at the gym tonight and possibly Friday or Saturday all being well. Slowly but surely I’m getting better and things are improving. The negatives I run into from time to time can always be overcome and beaten and the positives just keep getting better and better. And that’s with everything. Have a good week, and just like the last time I’ll see you on that road.

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Best Intentions.

Training this week has been pretty light on the ground, from dog bites to October colds it seems that every man and his dog (believe it or not no pun intended) has seemingly done their level best to keep me out the gym. Despite the latter I’ve still managed to get some time in so I guess really that’s the main thing.

I’m going to hit the ground running next week and intend to spend Tuesday to Friday evening training hard, and hope that it stays in that vein (with the occasional Saturday thrown in for good measure) for a while. There’s a big difference between hoping to do something and intending, and like with everything else it’s intention that’s the key.

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Intention plays a big part in most things in fact it plays a part in  everything  I want to achieve in my life and has always served me well when it comes to training and fighting. I’ve found it’s also been a big factor in overcoming nerves or that old friend of mine, fear. (I think it’s a friend of most with a heart and a soul.

I always do my best to take what I learn and what I’ve learnt in training and competing and apply the same attitude to other areas of my life so if I say I’m going to do something, then I’m going to go out and do it. From time to time, it may get procrastinated over and side tracked but these days 99.9 of the time it gets done. And procrastination is starting to take a back seat too. (except with keeping this blog up to date and making sure I write more.. I will overcome and all that stuff.)

I can remember changing my mentality when it came to competing from focusing on a fight to focusing on winning. A friend of mine popped round in the week for a beer and a chat, and the subject of fighting came up. We got talking about fight mentality and it made me remember something an old trainer of mine told me. “Your not just going to fight.” he said. “Your going to win.”

It wasn’t until I was walking home that evening after training that it really sank in. “I’m not just going to fight.” I said to myself. “I’m going to win.”. I said it again. “I’m going to win.” I think at that point, after what had probably been an eternity the light bulb truly switched on. I had always gone into fights with the intention to win but with a lot of nerves and anxiety to deal with too.

When I started just to focus on success not just on the challenge that lay ahead, my intention became sharp, clear and ultimately focused. When it comes to fighting I’ve learnt to focus not just on the person in front of me  but more on what I want.

I guess how we deal with nerves much in the same way we deal with failure and are always unique to us, but for me focusing on what I want like it’s already in the here and now produces the best results. Self doubt can often be crushed by an overwhelming desire to succeed and that applies to no matter what situation your in. Fear can be smashed in the same way too. And the best way I’ve found to deal with that, is to put yourself in front of it because it’s only ever false evidence appearing real.

So looking at the week ahead, I am as always looking forward to leaping back onto my proverbial horse. There’s a lot I have to do and getting training up to speed and consistently on track has become less of a priority and more of an intention. And that’s the triple truth. Have a great week, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

How you come back.

Last week at the gym was as always a good one, but what wasn’t so good was getting bitten by a dog last Friday on my finger. I guess it was my own fault because I love animals and I just wanted to stroke him as I walked past.

He’d had a hard time in life and so gave me a warning bite, so here I am today moaning for what seem likes the hundredth time about my bloody finger. There’s a photo I took earlier I shared on my Facebook that I’m going to spare you but suffice to say it’s been painful but I’ll live. (Just about)

Needless to say that’s most certainly going to affect the weeks training ahead, so despite going for a good run earlier I’m going to take this evening off and hopefully clamber back on the horse for the rest of the week. I think even if I was missing several fingers I’d still find the will and the way to make it to the gym.

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I think we all pick up injuries sustained in training or otherwise from time to time, and the nice thing about Thai is that I’ve usually found a way to work around them if they aren’t too life threatening, and I’m not about to turn into a zombie due to a multi-coloured finger nail. (Sorry) It’s most certainly the sensible option to rest up and heal, but if your anything like me you’ll never like to stay away for too long.

I realized quick quickly with training and with fighting (in fact I’m still realizing )that like with the rest of  the little inconveniences and the occasional hard ball life throws at me it’s important to be able to adapt to the situation and the circumstance. I guess really that goes back to the fundamental rule of being able to cope under pressure.

In the fight in the picture above (a draw ) I was under a lot of pressure. He was a tough fighter and it was a clinch war. I came out of it wishing I’d done more than draw but grinning from ear to ear. “Good fight. Good fight brother” I said a couple of times when the ref held our hands up in unison.

Being honest, it was one of those fights where although I’d worked hard I wished I worked a little harder. I still came away feeling that I’d done my best and as I spent the majority of the fight knee deep in clinch I was pretty pleased with how I’d fought. A lot to lot learn but another step forward.

I guess really that was the main thing. Besides, I thought I nearly stopped him with my knees in the 3rd or 4th. Wearing him down staying locked up in the clinch had let me get some decent knees straight into his ribs. It’s a good feeling when you feel someone buckle a little. A voice yells “I’m winning!..until you get some back.

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I’ve always had trouble dealing with hands when it comes to fighting. People seem to enjoy trying to rush me, so I’m pleased that over time my clinch has got a lot better. As well as my jaw. That always helps. I’ve never been knocked out fighting but I have been stopped a couple of times. That sucks, but toughens you up as well. I guess you adapt to that too.

If I’m coming across as a little too seasoned today I can only apologize but some days I feel it. I’ve had some tough fights and I’ve learnt a lot from them. I’ve learnt to adapt and I’ve also learnt what does and doesn’t work for me. I have been and always will be my own worst critic but I think these days there’s a little more experience sitting here than before.

I’m pissed off that training is probably going to be hindered for the next week or so because of another injury but I guess that’s life. We get given these things to test us from time to time so I guess it’s down to me how I deal with it. I just need to remember not to attempt to jab under any circumstances and I’m sure I’ll be fine.

On the plus side of things it means I get to work on my cross. I like that punch. It’s awesome. Not everything has to start with your hands anyway. They don’t call it the art of eight limbs for nothing.

So I guess that’s it from me until later in the week. I thought I’d leave you all with a bit of Muay Thai from my favourite fighter.. A bit of pressure never hurt anyone. Oh and I might be fighting in December.🙂 So anyway,enjoy, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Sangthongnoi vs Pornsanae – New Lumpini Stadium, 10th October 2014

 

 

 

 

 

There’s more to it than this.

Last week I wasn’t at the gym as much as I would of liked to  have been but never the less I was training and that really is the most important thing. I’ve said that a lot recently but I guess in a way it kind of reinforces the fact for myself, so I feel better about being slack than I did five minutes ago. Onwards and upwards as they say.

I got a text this morning off my friend who has just recently taken up boxing and has been brave enough to start testing himself in interclubs. He seemed a little disheartened that his first one hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped it would and that his nerves got the better of him.

I smiled because your nerves never go away. When I first started fighting  my nerves used to be terrible. Sparring with your friends is very different from fighting on a show, and even interclubs are very different from sparring with your friends. What made me smile even more is that he isn’t giving up and is giving it another go in a few weeks. Once bitten forever smitten as they say.

I used to love Thai interclubs. I don’t really do them any more (At my last count I had done well over 30) but I constantly put myself out of my comfort zone because I wanted to see what I could and couldn’t do under pressure. And being honest, it was good fun and pretty exciting. My old trainer in Bournemouth used to have a rule (and he probably still does) that you had to do at least seven interclubs before you were asked if you would like to fight for the gym. I think I ended up hitting the 15 mark before I stepped up for real.

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 Interclub no4. Don’t ask. (2009) 

What made me a little sad about my friends message was that he started off by saying he’d lost his first interclub. The one thing I’ve always been told about them is that it’s a stepping stone and a good way to gain experience before you step up for real.

Granted things can get a little feisty sometimes (me and many others from my old gym are likely to remember that little bout pictured above for a long long time.) but like with most things it usually comes together, and besides you get to experience what it’s like being in front of a crowd as well as fighting someone you don’t know and don’t train and spar with on a regular basis.

My first interclub left me feeling elated. All I did was kick the lad’s leg again and again and clinch now and again (old habits seem to die hard round these parts) but it left me wanting more. And more, and more… well you know the rest so far anyway. My second interclub, ha well that wasn’t too great. But that was how I met a gym I trained with for nearly four years… and I got to find out what having a cracked rib was like.

Just like with fighting at a competitive level there’s nothing you ever really “lose” as such and you only gain experience. And ideally some good (although sometimes not so good) memories. I’ve always been a very reflective person so have never really had a problem with assessing how well I’ve done and bench marked against where I am now. I’ve found that just by setting myself the goal of wanting to be the best I can be, I’ve achieved more than I ever expected I would. Self improvement is always a worthy cause.

When I’ve come off the back of a loss I’ve found that I’ve usually learnt a lot more than when I’ve won. At points it’s felt like I’ve come back even more determined to succeed than before. How we deal with nerves, stress, pressure or fear in all it’s myriad forms I guess is truly down to the individual but I think it’s really important to transform that natural fear into “go out and get em” fire.

And if it’s an interclub you need to remember to be respectful and keep it on a level. Mismatches and losses do happen (When I first moved here I was the on the receiving end of a horrendous mismatch that took a long time to get over so I know how it feels) but regardless of what happens on the day, it’s important to remember it’s how you come back that makes a difference and it’s an awesome feeling when you come back and win.

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Although winning  is what the goal of fighting or competing  should always be, I’ve learnt over time that really there is a lot more to it than just that. Regardless of the result If I’ve stepped up and been the best I feel I could be then I know there is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. And even if I haven’t been at my best (and that’s happened on a couple of occasions) I’ve learnt from it and I’ve come back stronger. I apply that learning thing to practically every single area of my life. In short, I’m always learning.

I might feel tougher inside and out than I have been before but I know that it’s a long road and I hope in a few years I’ll look back and  read this and smile, because I’ll still be training. I might even still be fighting. Who knows. Either way I do know one thing. It’s a great journey to be on and I’m still loving every minute of it. There’s more to it than this. Thanks as always for reading. ..I’ll see you on the road.

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Win some, lose some.

Just recently I saw a friend of mine who had just come off the back of losing a boxing match. He’d told me that the fight had been a mismatch with his opponent coming in a good 3 or 4 kilograms heavier than his own weight of 60. From looking at the short video I could see the difference between the two fighters was apparent.

He gave it his all and was unlucky enough to get caught with a hard shot that ended the fight. It’s one of those things and in any combat sport can happen. Listening to him talk about what happened in the ring, going over the situation I could hear the frustration in his voice. I’ve been there myself and it’s not the best place to be. In fact sometimes it can be a very tough place to be, and it can stay with you for a lot longer than you’d like.

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Losing my first few fights was pretty tough. In fact it was really tough. I had hoped at first that the sting of defeat would lessen after losing my first couple and when I finally landed a hat trick for all the wrong reasons, I unsurprisingly felt a little deflated. In fact, I felt small and the runt of the litter in a gym that had a reputation for producing tough fighters with good technique. I didn’t know if this was how most people felt about defeat but I knew that I didn’t like the feeling. In fact, I hated it.

Why fighting was taking so long to come together for me and others just seemed to have that certain ‘it’ was beyond me. ‘It’s a learning curve’ were words that often repeated like a broken record in my mind as I replayed the fights over again. Some days, a fifteen minute walk back to my flat would last a life time.

I found the hardest part of training from fight number three onwards was pushing myself to get back to the gym after another defeat. If Id’ known then that I would have to lose seven fights in a row before I won my first I’m not sure if I would of stayed in it, but as it stood what I was developing more and more was an understanding of competing and myself in the ring, I was also gaining some good experience and even though I’d only been fighting at an amateur level I’d had some tough fights.

In fact, I’d often heard it mentioned that fighting at an amateur level could be a lot more grueling than anticipated as fighters were often wanting to make their mark and move onto bigger and better things. I didn’t really think like that. I just wanted to win and it was a case of proving to myself that I had what some thought I was lacking, and besides despite the crushing nerves, the unrelenting training sessions and the weeks of low self esteem following a loss I loved the fight. It brought out the best in me and was something I never ever thought I would do.

When you’ve been at the bottom for what feels like forever, getting to the top of your game, of any game can seem like an almost unachievable goal at points. At least it did for me anyway. I’ve always found the will to succeed has been a driving factor in anything I set my mind to and fighting has been no different. It’s tough at the top (not that I’ve ever really been right at the top) but it’s even tougher at the bottom.

In fact, picking yourself up from any kind of defeat in or outside of the ring requires a lot of self belief, determination and focus. It also requires being around the right people, and luckily for me I’ve always been able to draw inspiration from those standing next to me on a bag rather than just from those fighters with their names up in lights.

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I guess when you want something so much its all your focusing on, you can make it happen. I can remember becoming so accustomed to losing that winning almost seemed something that other people did. “It’ll tip mate.” One of my trainers told me one day. “It always does for people that train all the time.” The words gave me some solace but didn’t make the work that lay ahead any easier. It was a long road to be on and only seemed to be getting longer.

When it finally tipped for me I was caught off guard and completely elated. As always it had been a close fight. I was fighting virtually last on the show, it was close to eleven at night and I had been waiting for felt like forever. Right from the word go I was tired but right from the word go I hadn’t given up. Something had happened half way through the fight, It had suddenly shifted from the familiar feeling of impending loss to a small voice I had never heard before telling me I was winning. It must of been that that made me push harder than I had before.

It wasn’t the tidiest of fights but the result was something to write home about. It inspired me to keep competing and from there I won again. I did good, but then again I put in the work. I can remember training twice a day at one point for my area title fight  I wanted it that much. I’d always been told to stay hungry and I made that a rule of thumb.

On reflection, I’ve wondered if losing has given me more drive to succeed than winning has at points. It’s certainly made me push myself more than I thought I could and the hard time I give myself can often bring out the best in me. There’s a lot more to fighting than wins and losses but then again there’s a lot more to me than what I do in a boxing ring or gym.

I’ve learnt more about myself over the past 5 years or so of competing than I thought I would. I may of slowed down a little of late but the drive to spend more and more time at the gym is creeping back, and this week I’m pleased to say I’ve been there more than the week before. I don’t think the passion for the sport /art is ever going to diminish and I’m hoping I get back in the ring this year. It’s a tough little world and it doesn’t come easy to some. When I say some I mean that it doesn’t come easy to me. But then again, the best things never do. In the meantime have a good week, train hard and always keep your head up. No matter how “hard” it gets. I’ll see you on that road.

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