I’ve been thinking recently (I do a lot of that) about training and how I started doing this and more importantly why I started on this path that I’m sure is going to be a part of my life for many years to come. I guess it goes back to a good friend of mine introducing me to martial arts around 7 or so odd years ago now. I tried a few different systems or styles and then I found Muay Thai, and at that point I fell in love with it. It’s a love affair that’s still going strong 7 years down the line.
I never thought I would end up on this journey, just as when I began I never thought I would end up stepping in a ring and fighting people. I can remember very clearly training at my first gym and being utterly terrified when I sparred for the first time. My trainer laughed at me when I asked in a nervous voice if I was wearing the right sort of head guard. ‘He thinks he’s Rocky Balboa! he said to everyone giving me a friendly pat on the back. I think I spent most of those first few sessions sparring being constantly teeped across the gym by my other trainer. You live and you learn.Before I felt brave enough to spar I use to look across at the other fighters sparring and think to myself ‘I hope I get to do that one day.’
I have many good memories of training at my first gym, and I am pleased to say I still keep in touch with them to this day. After all, its where I began my journey. I can remember my first interclub very clearly still, and feeling over the moon about taking the first baby steps out my comfort zone. Finishing off reasonably well, and thinking to myself ‘I really enjoyed that I wonder when the next one is?’ told me that this was something I wanted to get better at because I knew that If I stuck with it I would, and as time went on, of course I found that I did.
Stepping into one of the best Thai gyms I have ever trained at, and staying there for nearly 4 years changed me in a few ways. The nervous, out of his depth kid who stepped into a little Thai boxing gym down a side alley in Boscombe, was not the fighter who left his Kru and his second family 3 and a half years later to move to a new city. I can remember one of the first sessions at the gym, and seeing all these tough looking guys and girls on bags and pads just seemingly doing what they were choosing to do, with a Thai trainer called Sert in the centre of the ring holding pads for different fighters and people training. Again, I felt utterly out my depth, but as time progressed it became somewhere that I learned to call home. And I trained and I trained.
Stepping into the ring in October 2010 was probably the biggest challenge I’ve had within the short time I have been training for. It was exciting and it was terrifying. I think I had visions of a 10 foot tall smoke and fire belching Thai boxer from hell confronting me that day, but instead I met someone who was just as human as me, and no doubt was probably just as nervous. Despite the fight not going my way that day, I realized then it was something I wanted to keep doing because just like my first interclub I knew it was something I would get better at. And besides, hearing my name called and walking up to the ring with a sea of smiling faces looking back at me was my own personal Rocky moment. The fight in itself and fights afterwards up until now, are probably one of the more exciting and challenging moments of my life. I guess when you step in the ring you’ve already won.
So here I am now, still training hard and still loving it like I started yesterday and still stepping up when the opportunity arises. I think it’s going to be like this for a while. I feel that in some ways I am still getting to know my new gyms, but I guess that changes with time. I enjoy the training and love the fighting so I keep going back. I’ve met many people over the years that have inspired me, and I guess when your constantly surrounded by people of that calibre you can’t help but be the best you can be. What I love about Muay Thai is that all of us are a family, and I am proud to call some of the people I have trained with my friends, other than just other boxers I met along the way.
To me training is a way of life and fighting is just what I do. I’ve said before that the heart is where I live, and I guess in that respect it’s what I follow to despite the highs and the lows, and the blood sweat and tears. As I’ve said before, one day I’ll have some good stories to tell. Like everyone I meet there’s more to me than boxing but I’ve found that it only ever brings out the best in me. I hope it does for you too. Thank you to my trainers old and new, and thanks to Kru and everyone for always believing in me. Walk tall for now until forever. See you on the road.