All posts by The Little fighter still has a big heart.

About The Little fighter still has a big heart.

Determined, tenacious and enjoying the journey, 19 fights behind me so far, training for over 13 years and have just taken my first steps back into the ring after 3 years out. Which has ironically been put on hold yet again due to a global pandemic. I am a former WRSA amateur lightweight area champion and K1 Champion. These days I fight B or C class Muay Thai whilst defeating my inner demons, coping with martial trials and tribulations and making sure I still love every minute of it.

My favourite thing

Hi. It´s nice to catch up with you all once again, I´m currently nearing the end of a well deserved holiday in the sun spending quality time with family. It´s been a great break and I am already looking forward to a nice Christmas with my mum. Its her 81st Birthday today and she has had a nice day which of course, means I have too. We went out for lunch with family friends and whilst I´m writing she´s reading her book.

Both of us miss my dad more than words can say but he´s always here and with us both of us forever. He had an amazing life and was a giant of a human being- I have been thinking recently of gifts he left me other than my fighting spirit, strength and dedication to always doing the right thing. I´m just like that Spike Lee joint. It´s why I believe firmly in helping others fight for their rights especially when they feel that they can´t go it alone.

My auntie Blossom was a public speaker and a teacher like dad as well as a writer too. Both fled apartheid and South Africa´s children became political exiles due to fighting back against white supremacy.

Our roots are from the tribes of South Africa and our surname is a slave name. In fact, just recently my cousin Melanie who is African American and my auntie´s daughter said she met a long lost relative of our family. We are black people and mixed race black people on dad´s side. I´m very proud of my roots, which has some outstanding black activists and some would say freedom fighters who stood up to hate way back when.

Of course, mum has told me a lot about dad´s fight for his rights when he came to the UK as he did himself. She campaigned actively with my auntie Blossom to get the Metropolitan Police to leave him alone- When he came to the UK- He was stateless and without a passport and the cops put him in a hotel with a guard on the door. They called him a bad citizen for fighting back via stage plays in South Africa against the apartheid regime. He always was a superb stage actor.

He was also a teacher and after he got his passport issues resolved and made his new home here he ended up teaching white kids English, and of course he started dating mum and the rest is history. It´s nice to see that like my father I have ended up becoming a sportsman and athlete. Dad used to play cricket for Cambridge.

I think my journey into Muay Thai caught both him and mum off guard when I first started competing. His quiet little boy who made some mistakes but in the end came right went from learning to fight to actually fighting. Mum has always encouraged me as did my father even when I lost and lost.

Mum asked me just recently how long I have been training for now “Over 15 years” I said casually. “that´s good” she replied. Both her and dad would agree I have always had a big heart. Winning two titles has shown me I can do anything I put my mind too. I guess that´s how Bristol Copwatch came about. I guess that´s why I have been running my own business for a while now. I see something I feel I should do and put my time, creativity and energy into and I just go for it. I absolutely get that from my father.

Today is mum´s day. She comes from a working class family and her dad was a soldier. He fought in both world wars he also did a tour of Northern Ireland. When he left the army he wanted to be a cop. The whole family objected. “We have always had a low opinion of the police.” She told me recently. She worked as a teacher for many years running both R.S and sociology departments. She has always been passionately anti-racist and a feminist and at 81 will never change. She where my never give up comes from.

I thought I´d write about my parents because today is special. It would of been dad´s 92nd birthday on the 21st of this month. Everyone tells me I look just like him. I act like him always inspired to do the right thing and holding the police to account is one of my favourite things. Just like public speaking and writing it´s a natural bias of mine. Muay Thai is of course my hobby and passion. I´m getting better at that too. Training for years does that I guess. I can still give you a dead leg.

I´m back home in Bristol on Monday, and later in the week what feels like my speaker and workshop tour begins with Bristol Copwatch. Like that brother Afu Ra I whirlwind through cities. I´m a firm believer in sharing knowledge of our rights and helping communities build resilience. My own fight for justice is ongoing, in the end as dad would say to me it´ll come right. Have a great weekend, train hard and just like the last time…I´ll see you on that road.

My place on Earth.

Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you once again. I’ve actually been meaning to sit down and get some writing done for well over a week now and although procrastination and I are still really good mates, it’s nice as always to check-in.

Training this week has been pretty good and it’s nice that I’m finding the time more so than the week before to get down to the gym. Despite my bike needing some repair work next week I’ve already got the week ahead planned out and it’s not only going to be busy martial arts wise it’s no doubt going to be awesome.

Staying in it for as long as I have it’s still plain as day that I’m going to be training when I’m 60. Muay Thai has not only shown me that I can do anything I put my mind body and soul into but that it is over 15 years on just as much fun as it was on day one. It not only gets you in good shape fast but it teaches you about yourself.

It’s a journey that’s why I’m always on the road. I discovered this week that even on my just-about-getting-by days I’m still pretty good when I put my mind to it. Just recently I’ve come away from sparring sessions and training smiling and really that’s what it’s about. I don’t mind having a tough time as long as I’m learning something and most of the time I am.

I’ve looked at fighting as an “if it happens again great” situation and I’ll just go with the flow. I’m confident I’d do a lot better than the last time around. I remember what winning feels like and I love the combat so as they say never say never. At 43 years old my heart is just as big as it always was.

At present, I feel a lot better about myself and am focused on volunteering work, my day job, and living a good life and a happy one. My fight for justice is moving forward and the police monitoring group I founded is moving from strength to strength. Later this month I’m out to Spain to see my mum for her birthday and to celebrate and remember my amazing dad. It’s good to work from a place of strength inside.

Training has really helped me navigate loss and my gym has been very kind over the course of this year, but being honest they always have been. It’s one of the reasons I’ve trained there for many years. Of course, my previous gym Bristol Thai was just as welcoming and I achieved a lot there, but it’s good to have found my place on earth.

I intend to have another strong week of training from Tuesday onwards and it’s great to invest myself as much as I do. I know dad was always proud to see the man I’ve become. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

First minute first round.

Hi. It’s good to catch up as always. I hope you’ve had a good weekend so far and have been training hard. It’s not been too shabby this week this end which is of course always a good thing. Especially when you feel wronged and victimized.

Wronged and victimized. I don’t like either one of those words. Way back when a friend of mine gave me a postcard with that photo of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston. “First minute first round.” You know the one right? on the back he wrote one thing for me.”I am a survivor.”

It was important at the time because I was a shadow of myself. I learned that I didn’t have to walk with my head bowed and my trauma there for all to see instead, I learned how to stand up. Just recently I’ve looked in the mirror and I can see the young man, still there but these days he’s learning to work from a place of strength.

Training in particular is helping me navigate a lot of damage that has been done over the past few years from police harassment and contact and is reminding me that my life is no longer the same as it was back then. These days I help people and I use my own experiences as guidance when it comes to helping people put things right. I am a survivor and because I am I pass on my knowledge and guidance and I’m comfortable in my own skin. I feel at home.

Walking into my gym after still processing that the police have run firearms checks on me for believe it or not carrying a kubotan keyring in its completely legal use as a keyring helped me manage a lot of the anger that rose to the surface. If you’ve seen my Twitter rants you’ve met younger John. I’m very sorry but he’s done nothing wrong. I have a lovely friend who I see every couple of weeks who is helping me get to know him again. When all the different parts of me are aligned just like now I go back to my centre and speak from my heart. It’s where I live.

Just recently I said to myself “they’ve racially profiled me again. The fucking bastards ran an immigration check on me. They ran a firearms check on me.” And from out of the depths of my subconscious, a voice said “they used to stop and search me for riding on the pavement.” So today I took the hurt to the gym with me and it left because all there was the gym and the second family I train with. This is how I process the damage. And how I leave it behind.

I’m currently preparing to begin legal action against Avon and Somerset Police once again for a DPA 2018 breach that has had far-reaching implications and has done a considerable amount of damage to my life. I have never been alone and I know I am in the right. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone so far who has seen it and understand what has happened to me has most certainly not occurred in a vacuum.

The police have finally crossed a line I never thought they would and as my solicitors would say, there is a legal remedy to most of the issues I have faced. This has amounted to data protection breaches, police harassment, and targeting for fighting to get a malicious prosecution overturned a few years back. You can find out more about my story and what I am currently looking to achieve by visiting my CrowdJustice here.

Staying focused and strong at present is essential especially when the truth has become increasingly traumatic but being human and giving that guy who hopes you can see him room to get his voice heard is just as essential. These days I take him to train with me and show him what he can do. I step into volunteering and use my past experiences to help others. I walk tall and I face everything like it’s never mattered at all. But that’s me. Fighting for my rights. First minute first round. Have a great weekend, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Anger

Hi, it’s nice to check in with you all once again, and thanks for the visits to my blog despite there being a fairly lengthy radio silence. I’ll do my best to write more frequently from here on in. After all, it’s good for the soul. I want to take the opportunity to focus on the subject of anger, next week I’ll aim to follow up with a piece on balance and presence.

Anger is a very powerful emotion that I’ve run into a lot of late due to moving through cycles of grief. When it arrives it manifests itself in different ways but one of the most common times is when I’ve been drinking and of course, when it happens my anger is righteous. Just recently I can see it even if I’m out on the town and I shut it down quickly.

Grief and alcohol seem to shake hands disturbingly well, and my anger is indiscriminate. Whoever has seemingly wronged me gets told very loudly how wrong they are because some days everything is wrong but it’s really no one’s fault. There’s a young man I’m currently in the process of reconnecting with via the help of my lovely friend I see every couple of weeks. Like me, she’s been through a lot and is an outstanding therapist. She can see me as they say. Not everyone can.

Over the past month or so despite training a reasonable amount every week and actually getting better for it (I forgot that you learn stuff doing this martial arts thing so I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see improvements I probably hadn’t noticed were happening. ) I’ve been having fun and partying. I have a very busy life and need to unwind from time to time so other than Muay Thai a good dance is also always welcome.

Of course, with that comes hangovers and of late wondering if I’ve upset anyone. There’s nothing worse than wondering if you’ve upset anyone. I think it was this realization that has made me decide to have a booze break for a little while from next week onwards. I can still go out and do whatever I want but alcohol isn’t the be-all and end-all of a good night out. In fact, I rolled in at around 6.45am this morning and still had a decent training session this afternoon.

I’m pleased to say the traumatized young man who misses his daddy immensely, who used to get stopped and searched for riding on the pavement, and who sometimes dwells on women who have hurt him but also needs to have women in his life, the kid who got bullied didn’t make an appearance. Well, he tried to but I could see him so asked what was wrong and promised we could talk about it later. He needs a voice because I’ve always just bottled it up.

You see, I created barriers to protect me that I’ve learned to take down and that I’m still learning that it’s ok to keep down. I may seem stoic but maybe sometimes I’m just a little bit shy. I know my younger John was. Being reflective it’s been a very intense, emotional, and interesting discovery and journey over the past few months, I realized today how young I look. I think I have Muay Thai to thank for that, but hey I am young still. I’m not middle-aged till I’m 45. You can Google that one.

Training has helped me navigate a lot of what at points has felt like being trapped in a glass case of emotion and being completely honest here, August was possibly the lowest I have ever been in my life, but I still just kept pressing forward. Carry on as normal, ok today I can’t do anything. Today I don’t want to get out of bed. I miss my dad I miss my friend Ahmed. My mum went through the same. Grief comes in waves, but training gives me my focus and helps me go back to my centre.

I’m a naturally strong person just like my dad. He fought back against white supremacy, racist cops and you know what? he won and built an amazing life here with mum. He will always be my hero, on my best day I wish I could be more like him, in fact, it’s his strong voice I remember “keep your cool” which is what he would say to me about anger especially when I went through a cycle and effectively hit the self destruct button. And you know what dad? These days I do. And these days I remember how tall I walk. I see it and detach from it. Respond never react. That’s something fighting teaches you too, and it can serve you well outside of the ring.

I’m pleased I have a good circle of friends in Bristol and some of my closest friends although we live in different places in the country these days are always there for me like I am for them. Connecting with myself and taking every day as it comes can be overwhelming at points but I’m getting stronger and stronger. There are days when I don’t want to do anything at all and on those days I listen to my heart. Community work and volunteering give me a lot of focus but I’m pushing that more into my working life too. I’m in the driving seat again and it’s good to be back. It feels like it’s been a long time since we spoke. I shouldn’t have left you. Have a good week and train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

That brother Ahmed

Sitting down writing this blog on the tail end of a fantastic August bank holiday somehow doesn’t feel right. Actually being at a point where I feel ready to write has taken weeks but here we are you and me and it feels like the right time.

Bristol Copwatch is due to release a statement about Ahmed Fofanah’s passing and how it has impacted all of us but I wanted to take the opportunity to do the same. I can still remember when we first began supporting Ahmed Fofanah and his family well over a year ago now due to his ongoing fight for justice. Even at his lowest Ahmed had a strength that is rarely seen and a fierce determination to fight for his rights.

We connected due to our shared heritage. Ahmed came from Sierra Leone in Africa and was immediately interested in my family history, in particular, my beautiful father Owen Pegram who sadly left me and my mum in December of 2021 due to a long battle with cancer. Dad was a black South African and Ahmed loved me telling him about our family history.

He told me a lot about Sierra Leone and was deeply interested in the history of South Africa. To say he was Afrocentric was an understatement. His children like myself are mixed-race black people, and his incredibly strong wife Martina is wife white just like my mum, if you’re a mixed-race kid yourself you’ll know how important our identity is.

My dear friend taught me to embrace the African side of me further just as my dad always has done. I remember Ahmed as a kind and gentle man who was devoted to doing the right thing and helping others, in fact when my dad passed away he was the first person to call me to check in. He never stopped saying thanks for the help and support we gave him and when we lost him at the beginning of August my heart broke into a thousand pieces.

Ahmed was also a sportsman and I remember watching videos of him and his son boxing  sparring at their home in Weston Super mare. He told me he had many fights and I could see from watching the way he moved he was a fighter. To see a strong man like him suddenly up and leave is heartbreaking.

It’s hard to navigate even now but I’ve learned in this life we have to be strong. We have to keep fighting and most importantly we have to be there for one another. When he spoke publicly he lit up the room and captivated hearts and minds. I can still hear his strong voice.

Everything we do now as a monitoring group honors his memory and he will always have a place in my heart. I’m sure he and my dad have shaken hands wherever they are. Two of Africa’s children have come home. Rejoice and raise your fist.

Ahmed and his beloved dog Shadow. Photo via Co-POWeR

Resilience

Hi. It’s good to catch up with you again. I’m writing after a good sparring session at the gym and then a brief stop at my local on the way home. After training it’s always a soft drink and never booze. The pub is surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night but the crowd in there was nice and closer to how I remember it way back when.

I’ve only lived in Bristol for just over 10 years now but I guess that’s a long time to live anywhere. Other than Portsmouth it’s my base, it’s safe and it’s my home from home. I can see myself staying here for many years to come.

The past few weeks have been very tough emotionally due to a dear friend of mine passing suddenly and of course, navigating the bereavement of losing my dad last December. Ahmed left us earlier this month and my heart broke into a thousand pieces. My mum has just come out of an intense period of grief and I have been supporting her and so went to Spain to spend some quality time with her. The weather was fantastic.

Speaking to my friend on a Wednesday on the phone only to receive the tragic news the following day that he had suddenly died was quite the opposite. The grief I’ve learned arrives and leaves in waves of sorrow. I’d thought I’d overcome the worst of losing my father forgetting my father died less than a year ago. Ahmed said such beautiful things to me about dad on the day he left us, in fact, Ahmed was the first of my friends to call to see how I was doing.

We connected due to our heritage, he was black and from Sierra Leone, and his wife Martina is white, his children like me are mixed-race black. Dad and he would have hit it off straight away. Maybe they’ve met wherever they are. Ahmed reminded me that not only do I look like my father I am him in everything I do. In fact, it’s fair to say when it comes to helping others and my work in the community everything I do celebrates his life.

The wave of grief and depression that arrived just after I left Spain, to be honest, caught me off guard. I remember finishing a run out in the Sun, it was over 30 degrees and absolutely fantastic weather when I boldly made the statement “I’ll carry it for mum. I’ve got big enough shoulders.” to myself.

I’ve learned to my intense sadness my shoulders are only those of a man who rarely puts down his own and other people’s trauma. I’ve had days of late when I’ve not been able to do a thing other than sit and cry at random intervals. I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if I’ll ever feel like myself again and ranted on my Facebook expecting strangers to understand because someone anyone must be to blame for my suffering and my dad and friend not being here.

My mum is now vastly improved can see it and I can see the concern in her eyes. Training and volunteering are helping me as well as parties and dancing. July was fun August has been a challenge but just the same. Amongst the depression, there’s an acknowledgment that the summer has been a good one. Life’s like that and this weekend is Notting Hill carnival so there’s nothing like finishing things off on a good note.

I’d like to say training has helped me navigate the emotional minefield I’ve become but being honest the young guy no one understands has been in the driving seat a few times and he finds a problem very quickly. You’ll be pleased to know I do have a therapist as well as a lot of emotional intelligence to steer me right even when the waters have been the murkiest.

However, as the saying goes it’s always darkest before dawn and everything changes. Even me. Underneath all of this has been a brave light that’s getting stronger and stronger all the time. A new me is coming and that’s something to celebrate. Some lights never go out and Mr never gives up still will never ever give up. In fact, you’ll have to hit harder than that grief because you won’t stop me. Right now I may be the lowest I’ve ever been in my life but still. I rise and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Here comes the sun

Hi. It’s good to catch up once again. I hope you’re enjoying the weather and that you’re having a great summer. Mine has been good so far, and it’s been nice remembering how to put things down and enjoy myself again.

I’ve just come back from a well-deserved break in Spain to see my mum. The weather was Thailand-level hot with temperatures soaring into the early forties some days so as usual I focused on my road work and enjoyed swimming every day during my stay.

Tragically a friend of mine and valued member of Bristol Copwatch’s core team passed away this week. Ahmed Fofanah was a strong black man, dedicated to holding the police to account, He was also an amazing dad and loving husband and my thoughts are with his equally amazing wife Martina and children during this difficult time.

Navigating the loss of a friend and the loss of my own father whilst supporting my mum may seem like quite a crux to bear but as always I’m taking it in my stride. I’ve become stronger over time and know when I need to put down what I can’t carry and give myself time to breathe.

My own legal battle against Avon and Somerset Police is ongoing and I’m currently in the process of building a strong claim to justify them paying me the compensation I am owed for a serious DPA breach. I shouldn’t have to justify it but the police are notoriously racist as well as corrupt here, and the treatment of POC in comparison with our white counterparts is quite frankly not only disgusting but outright scandalous. Ahmed could see them and I can too. In relation to what the brother went through you can learn more here. In both instances, the police must be held to account for what they have done.

It’s fair to say I’m carrying a lot right now but as I’ve already mentioned I know how to put it down. I know what I want and I know what I need and really that’s the most important thing. After what seems like a long period of hiatus work is also springing back to life, and I had a very positive conversation whilst away about a new PM contract that will run ideally alongside my business with no clash between the two.

Although life can be tough life is also getting better and better. I was training 6 times a week before I headed out to Spain and I intend to continue in that vein from next week onwards. Training is of course truly awesome but there’s also a lot more to me than that. It’s a part of my life however that will always be there and is a good stress buster and area of focus to put my energy into. Muay Thai gives a lot back to me and always will do.

I feel at the moment that I’m slightly older and wiser than a couple of months ago but I look and feel very young inside. This is because believe it or not I’m happy being me and I keep myself in good shape. A recent guestimate was an early 30-something and as your early forties might as well be your thirties at least by my logic anyway, I guess it’s all gravy.

Speaking of keeping in shape and training I’ve got more of that lined up for this afternoon. There’s a self-defense class that’s on just after open mat so I’m helping out with that too, other than that I’m looking forward to some much-needed John time this evening. I miss my friend just like I miss my dad but everything I do in my life and volunteer work honours both of them. Here’s to a great August. Have fun, train hard and enjoy the sun. I’ll see you on that road.

Sit with warriors.

Hi. It’s good as always to check-in. This week unfortunately is a gym-free one due to me not only coming down with a pretty terrible cold on Monday but also testing positive for covid. Despite 3 vaccinations it still managed to sneak its way in but I guess I was never immune anyway. Thankfully, I’m on the mend and even my cough has decided to make its departure.

Illness aside including road traffic accidents all is well in my world. I’m going to be training again from next Tuesday onwards and I’m sure next week should see me getting back into sparring too. There are some big shows coming up over the summer and although it’s very easy to get weighed down with setbacks I think if I put in some work at some point I might get a shot at fighting again. Even if I don’t that’s ok too. I’m off to Notting Hill carnival next month with good friends so that’s also something to look forward to.

This Sunday and Monday I’ve got a nice run out to the woods near me already planned and I need to make sure I start working on my stamina more as of late I’ve been pretty lazy with running. I train a reasonable amount although I need to train more and I’ve been procrastinating a lot about running. it’s all a part of what I do as a martial artist and a fighter so I need to make sure I’m making the effort. I’ve also cut down on alcohol. There’s a lot of chest-beating locally and I can’t help but smile when I see local “lads” playing hairy eyeball, I know full well a 100-yard sprint would no doubt write them off for the best part of a week.

However, to me, it’s just water off a duck’s back. I’ve got too many positives in my life to allow room for idiots. As one of my trainers said to me I need to remember to check in with myself more. It’s not me it’s them but I’m a lot more emotionally intelligent and wiser these days than I used to be. Training is something that has always helped give me focus and balance in my life so I’m looking forward to getting back to it from next week onwards.

When it comes to training itself there’s a lot I need to work on but hey it’s improving. Bag work can have a limited shelf life so testing what I know is something I’m looking forward to as well as building on my current skills. The nice thing about sparring is that it’s like riding a bike, it never goes away and the same applies to fighting. It’s very familiar territory, even if there’s rust there I know it and it knows me. We’re old friends.

When it comes to bag work I work on my basics but also work on counters and simple but effective combinations. I seem to spend a lot of time focusing on my power but it’s nice to know when I need it my speed is there too when it comes to hands and low kicks at least. I’ve spent some time of late working on turning my cross into a knockout punch by taking a step forward. Sometimes I follow up with a straight knee off my lead or a low kick.

My left body kick is strong but needs to be a lot faster, and I’ve started working on moving around the bag to focus on getting off the centre line and not being such a static target. I hit and kick hard and from what I’ve been told my knee game is strong. I need to spend more time drilling them from next week onwards.

As you can probably tell, I’m currently missing the gym. Maybe I just need to rest up and let my body heal from the injuries it’s sustained of late. It’s very easy to push too hard when really your body is telling you otherwise and slowing down for a brief pause never hurt anyone, what’s a week these days anyway? Tuesday soon come. I guess for now that’s all she wrote. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Clear, evident and direct

Hi. It’s nice to catch up once again. I thought I’d take the time to sit down and write before heading to training for an hour or so. It’s open mat today but unfortunately due to a very serious road traffic incident a couple of weeks ago I can’t spar at present. If you follow me on Twitter ( I have 2 accounts one for work and one for the rest of my life ) you may well have seen some photos of a very nasty head injury that occurred after my drink was spiked when I was out a couple of Fridays ago.

I still have absolutely no recollection of events that bothers me because I hate not being in control of myself. All I can remember is leaving my final pub of the evening unlocking my bike and then that was it! I woke up in hospital. I was fairly drunk but not to that kind of level. The doctor noted in the morning that my pupils were dilated and asked me what I had taken. I used to have a drug problem, Muay Thai actually helped me beat it and I no longer do drugs at all so was very surprised to discover this had happened. I also couldn’t stand without stumbling and had to stay in observation for several hours before being discharged.

“I’m in BRI i don’t know what happened. Cops have my bike. I think it was a hit and run in st George. My phone is smashed up and I’m covered in blood”

In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone from the guy above back to this guy below. To be completely honest I’m very lucky to be here. Having had a couple of near misses in my life already (I’m only 43 and still a young man) I’m always greatful for my physical and mental toughness. It’s an inherited characteristic off my beautiful father. He was an athelete and sportsman for many years, and ok I get it from my amazing mum too.

New headphones, and I’ve even dusted off very nice Diesel jacket that makes me feel nice..

I’m disappointed that I can’t spar at present but I’m also incredibly pleased that I train with such caring people who are not only very good at what they do but value me not just as a fighter at the gym and martial artist but as a person too. I don’t know everyone that well and there’s a lot of new faces these days but my trainers and some of the Muay Thai stalwarts I’ve trained with for years have all expressed their concern about what happened and where I’ve been headed of late. As one of my trainers said to me this week “just because its healed outside doesn’t mean it’s healed inside”

That struck a cord with me for a couple of reasons. Not only because I’m recovering from serious concussion and head trauma but because last month saw me travel through some of the most intense periods of grief I’ve experienced since we lost dad. For all intents and purposes all is well. I’m fine. But I’ve not been ok and at points everyone was my enemy. No one understood me, and the young man who was utterly traumatised by the police and criminal justice system was in charge and he was so very very angry with all of you, because none of you ever cared and none of you know what the police did to him and how he could never forgive himself for what happened to his life and how much he hurt people he cared about.

At points I sat and cried. I remembered old girlfriends who used to curl up close to me when I was hurting and tell me it would be ok. I remembered my parents telling me to get councilling and I remembered how the young man just navigated all of it and somehow picked up the pieces and made a new life. I remembered the kid who got stopped and searched for riding on the pavement and realised that he still needs a voice. Most of all I remembered the young man because when he looked in the mirror he didn’t even recognise the person looking back at him.

These days he knows who he is, what he wants and what his life has taught him and who he has become and he looks in the mirror and always smiles because he looks so young and his dad is just looking back at him. He’s proud to be on the path he’s on and I’ve promised not to leave myself behind again. I spend a lot of my spare time helping people fight for justice but as much I fight for them I’m still learning that I’m worth fighting for too. It’s a work in progress and the confident and brave guy I’ve become wants to sit in the driving seat again.

“Take your time” is what I was told about sparring this week. I don’t heal as fast as I used to but I’m still a fast healer. As well as working on my body I’m spending a lot of time working on me too. Alcohol can be my worst enemy and in times of grief it takes no prisoners. I’m learning moderation or abstenance at points is key. I’m really keen to fight again when I’m ready because I will usually stop drinking for around 6 weeks or so. Maybe I should do that anyway.

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that the police have utterly traumatised me through stop and search, surveillance and harassment over the years. Yesterday I asked myself my younger self if he could ever forgive them for what they have done. He looked up at me and said “They used to stop and search me for riding on the pavement.” I cried and said welcome to the Copwatch. These days I make my peace by helping others. I know mum and dad are proud of me. Community activism rocks.

Training has helped me navigate and understand a lot of what has happened in my life of late. There’s a strength Muay Thai has brought out in me that I never knew existed. There’s a focus and sharpness it gives me the more I train. I’m learning once again to respond and not react to situations. I’m checking in with myself more and today I woke up smiling knowing last night I had a nice evening. I even got a lift home that probably avoided round two at BRI. (That was a joke, and thanks for looking after me NHS.)

Although I’m heading back to me I know I’m on the right path. Things are flowing and moving in my favour. The signs that I have seen and that will come are clear. evident and direct. Here’s to the rest of the summer and winning all my fights in and out of the ring. Have a great weekend, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Zooming forward relentlessly.

Hi. It’s great to catch up with everyone once again. It’s been a long time and I shouldn’t have left you. So how are things with you? things are good with me and always I’m zooming forward relentlessly into all my challenges, never really pausing, and doing my best to be a force for good.

I realised yesterday that I need to spend a bit more time giving myself John time and allowing myself time to not only continue to grow but to heal from the loss of my dad. I’ve coped as well as I have by keeping busy and with personal fights for justice as well as supporting others on the sharp end of abuse of power taking up quite a lot of my free time at present spending some quality time at the gym is more welcome than ever.

To be honest, I need to be training more and I’m looking forward to picking things up again properly from Monday onwards. I’ve also decided to have a well-deserved alcohol break. It’s really easy to spend a lot of time at the pub during the summer but I think I’ve forgotten I can do that without drinking alcohol, and besides, there’s more to summer than pubs and nightclubs.

Next month I’m expecting Avon and Somerset Police to do what they should have done last month which is admit liability to a DPA 2018 breach and pay me well-deserved compensation money. They are probably the most corrupt and morally bankrupt police force I know of other than the Met but they aren’t invincible. As I keep reminding myself justice will come and as always I remain utterly unshakeable. When fighting for truth and justice the rule of thumb is never ever give up. The same rule applies to helping others do the same.

I’m not sure at present if I have enough capacity to consider competing again this summer but as my trainer Dave said to me the other week, never say never. He also said I need to improve a lot of things including flexibility (my nickname is bendy McGee so I really don’t know what his problem is) and generally just improve what I do because he won’t put me in the firing line again unless he feels that I’m ready for it and that I’m likely to win.

A couple of years ago I would have taken this sort of conversation very personally but these days I know it’s better to be realistic and set my goals and work towards them than jump into it again all guns blazing having really learned nothing from the time before and besides if he wasn’t a good trainer he wouldn’t have had that sort of conversation with me which being honest wasn’t anywhere near as melodramatic and serious as it seems writing about it.

I’d like to compete again and at least win a couple more fights but also I know that I’ll be training for many years yet and fighting is just a small part of the journey I’m on. For some people, it’s where it begins and ends but if you are a hard-nosed Muay Thai stalwart who at best is like me just above average in ability tough as old boots, and determined to zoom forward relentlessly regardless of the opinion of bullfight critics and most importantly you love what you do and are just utterly determined to get really good at it, you’ll know that what we’re doing out here is learning a very deep and rich martial art system. It’s a lifelong journey. If you have a good background in Thai you’ll go a long way.

I’ve been training out of my current gym for over 5 years now and it’s good to be training at a camp that pushes you to be your best and sets its standards high. Most importantly it’s great to be training with people who really do care about what’s going on in your world and are very supportive when you need them to be. That means a lot to me so as always thanks so much for checking in from time to time.

Despite it being Thursday I already have that Friday afternoon end-of-the-week thing going on but as work, is pleasingly incredibly busy I guess for now that’s all she wrote. Seriously, though I need to get back to it. There’s never enough time in the day, but I promise to remember to make more time for myself. Tonight I’m in Weston Super-mare with the formidable Bristol Copwatch presenting a workshop and talk on the cops and stop and search for the Racial Equality Network at a nice space called The Other Place. If you’ve never caught me getting stuck into the man you truly are missing out so try and get yourself along!

As we were talking about bullfight critics a moment ago I thought I’d leave you with this incredible little poem that inspired me way back when, when I lost all my fights bar a few.

“Bullfight critics ranked in rows Crowd the enormous Plaza full, But he’s the only one who knows— And he’s the man who fights the bull.” Domingo Ortega

I guess it’s for everyone who zooms relentlessly into everything life throws at them. Train hard and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.