Category Archives: Personal Development

Stand up

Morning all. It’s good as always to catch up once again, training this week has as always been good and although at points it’s tough I feel that I’m learning and like most things in life it’s not always an easy process. At the moment I keep incredibly busy with volunteering as well as focusing on my working life and as such I’m doing a lot of public speaking, workshops, and events for Bristol Copwatch.

I wrote a while back about taking legal action against Avon and Somerset Police for a 2018 DPA breach. I’m pleased to say the case and claim have taken shape and the police have until the 4th of June to admit liability. I am of course represented by the formidable Bindmans LLP actions against the police team.

The police of course have not taken things at all well. But when it comes to the general public taking a stand over misconduct and malpractice they very rarely do. I’m still pretty much convinced what has happened has been solely vindictive in its nature just like the original wrongful and malicious prosecution of 2018.

In terms of that, I’m pleased to say that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is assessing the case and conviction to see if it can be taken back to the court of appeal. I’ll know more in the next couple of months. It was also good news to see the Information Commissioners Office uphold my complaint against Avon and Somerset Police.

They said “We have considered the issues you have raised with us. Based on this information, it is our view that ASP has not complied with their data protection obligations.” The ICO will by now have written to the police about the breach and their information rights practices.

We have told them they should now take steps to ensure that:

  • rectification requests are appropriately responded to within 1 calendar month; and 
  • subject access requests are responded to within 1 calendar month;

We have also asked that ASP review your request to have your PNC record amended to reflect the findings of the court, and to provide you with a response to this.

Of course, we know that my PNC information in its current state is inaccurate, unfair, and unlawful so it’s going to be very interesting to see what the police’s response is to both the letter of claim and ICO decision in a couple of months. I am of course still funding raising via CrowdJustice.

Police harassment

I’ve been on the sharp end of police harassment for some time due to my ongoing fight to clear my name, something Avon and Somerset Police have consistently denied but from my work, as a volunteer caseworker for Bristol Copwatch I see the same patterns of harassment emerging with other POC who take a stand against police wrongdoing.

Whenever people, in general, take a stand against the police or the state whether it be through community monitoring groups, public speaking, or just doing your bit by going on a march we will always get the police’s attention, but it seems that Avon and Somerset Police are particularly malicious and vindictive in their treatment of black and brown people more so when we decide to fight for our rights.

Yesterday Bristol Copwatch held a small event at the Malcolm X Community Centre in St Pauls with Co-POWeR a University research project that is investigating the impact of emergency power policing on black and brown communities during the lockdown. We also held a stop and search workshop.

Although the event was fairly quiet (we are still getting to know St Pauls and understand the long and volatile relationship the community has had with the police here so kind of expected it) we were generally surprised to see area police turn up to check out what it was exactly we were doing. The police not only walked directly into our space for the afternoon but decided to park up outside the venue keeping a watchful eye on the entrance until finally driving off.

The monitoring group I am a founding member of respects all views on policing but we maintain a healthy distance from direct relationships with the police as it erodes trust in the communities we support. I personally have supported POC who have been through hell and back due to racist cops. It’s really hard for me to want to have any kind of engagement with the police when they consistently treat us so very badly. I know others in our core organising team feel very much the same.

What’s interesting is that after our event we headed to an anti-repression talk not far from the community centre and were monitored through our journey by local area police. Why is it that in white communities in Bristol this sort of attention to any event just does not happen? do the police feel so utterly threatened by a community event in St Pauls happening that they have to attempt to harass the organisers and intimidate the public from even walking through the door?

We had no more than 8 people in the Malcolm X Community Centre yesterday afternoon and yet still the police put pressure on us. When I was in Oxford two weeks ago the workshop myself and a fellow Copwatcher presented was busy and also monitored by the police. We’ve noted in Oxford that the police are keen on shutting down community organising if they can.

From my point of view as an organization, they feel threatened by anything they cannot have control over. This is an autocratic and authoritarian policing strategy and we need to resist it. It’s clear that if grassroots organising happens in areas they deem to be a problem (black and brown communities) we by default become “a person of interest.”

When we headed to the event held by anti-repression groups such as Bristol Defendant Solidarity and ABC we were made to feel very welcome, but then we were made to feel very welcome by the lovely staff at the Malcolm X Community Centre too. Today I’m very angry that the police attempted to create the perception that Bristol Copwatch must of either a) been up to no good. or b) was working with the police yesterday afternoon.

Co-POWeR we know felt very much the same about attempted police engagement and understand how important trust relationships are with communities like St Pauls. I respect the fact that some feel to monitor the police effectively you must build relationships with them (I strongly disagree and feel that this affects a monitoring group’s ability to critically analyze them as an organisation )but I also feel that had the organisers of yesterday’s event at MX all been white we wouldn’t have received the extensive attention we did.

I have been on the sharp end of racist policing a lot of my adult life and know what it looks like in action. I’m hoping that in the next couple of months I see a few things start to be put right. In the meantime, of course, I’ll keep campaigning. Next month I’m on the Bristol Radical History Group’s speaker panel at “Set the people free” talking about mobile fingerprinting and PACE stop and search. Following that, I’m with fellow Copwatchers at the awesome Bristol Transformed festival hosting a workshop on dealing with the police.

I’m a firm believer in taking a stand when it comes to injustice. In the cold light of day, I see the police for what they are and I know that I’m doing the right thing. The last bit of training for the week is going to be a welcome stressbuster this afternoon. I still hope that you can see me. Just remember to stand up and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Muay Thai is importanter

Hi. I hope you’re enjoying the Easter break and that all is well in your world. Despite planning to head to the gym this afternoon I’ve been defeated by my Saturday hangover which is a shame as I’ve spent literally every day this week bar today training. It has been good and although I still need to step my running game up again I feel that I’m benefiting from the extra push I’ve decided to give myself. More of the same is ahead next week onwards, and of course, I know if you don’t run then you don’t fight so I intend to step things up on that front too.

The past few months have been tough primarily due to navigating bereavement and it’s good to finally feel that I’m ready to start letting life head back to its normal pace. I think I’ve been doing that anyway but there are days when I just don’t want to do anything at all. My mum is pretty much in the same place as me and we talk every day and often video call in the evenings.

I think training has helped me get through what seems to have been the worst bits if that makes sense and volunteering has also helped keep me focused. I’m getting the volunteer and paid work balance right once again and I actually just finished opening letters that have been sitting in a small lonely pile for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Easter break as well as training has been awesome so far, and it’s been nice to get out into town over the weekend as well as have a good couple of nights of decent music and good company. You can’t beat dancing to chase the blues away.

Training wise I’ve got back to a good level of consistency I just want to try and get to open mat sessions a little earlier. And sort my time keeping out. I’ve also broken the bad habit of kicking with my foot instead of my shin. When you get put under a lot of pressure( I get to be put under a lot of pressure in sparring at points but I’m an experienced fighter it’s really to be expected.) )it’s also understandable to want to stay at a safe distance but kicking out of range isn’t really the way. I’m making myself stay close and stay in if I can.

This week I did some good stuff clinch wise and it’s an area of training I really feel I need to focus on. One of my first trainers called it an art within art and I’ve always found that to be true. I’m working on ways to shut down taller fighters so do my best to catch kicks and counter quickly, if there’s a lot of pressure from hands clinching is a good way to stop them, you just need to be brave enough to take the bull by the horns. Besides, when we’re that close we’ve got our elbows as well as knees.

Looking at Muay Thai from a self-defense perspective knees, elbows and clinch are half-decent tools to have in your arsenal, unless of course, you run into a knife in which case as Geoff Thompson once said pick up anything that isn’t nailed down and throw it at them then run. I’ve only ever been in a situation once in my 16 years plus of training where I had to defend myself and my training was there for me when I needed it the most.

I say once, going back a few years I was the victim of a racist attack. Three of them jumped me and one had to hit me with a bike lock to come anywhere close to hurting me. I was drunk at the time and had I been switched on and sober I don’t think firstly I would have ended up in the situation in the first place and secondly, I would have defended myself with vigor. I stayed on my feet, however. My friends the next day all came over to see me from Easton in Bristol and were generally amazing.

But that incident aside, I’ve found that bullies including racist ones got a lot warier of me when I started martial arts, not because I walk around with my chest puffed out but because it’s about how you carry yourself as a person. It’s about the aura you project. As I said towards the beginning of today’s blog I feel stronger in myself as I carry on the long path of healing from loss. I actually feel how I did when I started this martial journey of mine and there’s an inner toughness that’s growing inside of me again. I believe in putting others before myself. It’s a characteristic I’ve inherited from both my parents but in particular my beautiful father. I have a lot to thank him for and I know he was always proud of me and all my achievements.

I’m back at the gym tomorrow afternoon and Monday morning has got first run of the week written all over it. Enjoy the rest of the Easter break. I’ve had the best Easter Sunday of nothing ever and my hangover is now at the time of writing just about gone. Dancing and good times are fun but Muay Thai is importanter. Here’s to the week ahead and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Here comes the sun

Afternoon all, it’s nice as always to catch up and I hope that all is well with you. Despite having last week off from training as I was away in far from sunny Spain (red sand rain, miserable weather but good company) it’s been nice to get back into the swing of things at the gym and of course, I intend to keep things heading in the right direction.

Training has been going really well, and I’m enjoying my time there. Although I was away last week I still managed to get some running time in and it’s the one area I feel that I need to be a little more consistent with here. The last training session of the week is looming and when I get back I’ll have to make sure I finish the week off with some quality stamina building.

The thing is, I’m just lazy about these things and forget a half-decent run is literally on my doorstep. I’m looking forward to it already. Training is however improving my fitness as well as my ability but that’s the way it should be. I train 5 times a week again these days but this month intend to step it up to 6 from time to time. It’s good to push a little harder sometimes just to see where it gets you.

As I’ve got older I’ve noticed injuries take a lot longer to heal, old fighting injuries creep back in from time to time but in general, I keep on trucking. I’ve decided that competing is something I’ll focus on for as long as I’m fit enough and competent enough to do so but I know there’s more to Muay Thai than just stepping in a ring.

Fairtex Bangplee

Right now I’m loving the confidence boost and general sharpness training regularly is giving me again. It’s just procrastination I still have to beat, which is one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to get around to writing my blog. Other areas of my life I want to improve I just put the same energy into as well, but you know something? Life isn’t always about self-improvement. Sometimes life is about just being comfortable in your own skin and being you.

Being emotionally intelligent is really the order of the day and I find that training helps me be less reactive and assess situations and people with a lot more clarity than before. It’s easier to manage my emotions these days than a month or so ago. I guess that’s part of the healing process I’m going through at present. Everything changes.

I feel a lot more confident about stepping back into the ring if the opportunity arises again than I did last year and as another fighter said to me it’s about picking up from where I left off. Not reinventing the wheel. I’d like to fight this year and of course, have told my trainers that too. We shall see. I still enjoy combat even if it is only sparring at present.

Speaking of gyms, sparring, and training the last session of the week is rapidly approaching. I’m maybe going to focus on bag work today as a preference but might have a little spar too. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Back in the room.

Evening all. As always it’s good to catch up, I very nearly decided to leave writing until tomorrow but seeing as procrastination and I am old friends (or is it enemies) I’ve decided as always that there’s no time like the present. Training as always has remained consistent and I’m back to training 5 times a week again which is only ever a good thing. Little by little I’m heading back to where I want to be when it comes to all things martial and hard work is starting to pay off. As I’ve always said the more you put in, then the more you get out.

Ha. That’s something someone once said in my old gym in Bournemouth and it’s always stuck because it’s true. The hardest part of training is sometimes just turning up but staying focused on what you want is sometimes an incentive in itself. There is never anything that can’t be improved but I realised on my lunchtime bag blast today that everything is perfect the way it is.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should be kind of proud of myself for having trained for as long as I have and for having achieved as much as I have already done. There’s a fighter who is beginning to rise up again inside of me and he still wants to win. Never say never as the saying goes. I’m still young and there’s still some fuel in the tank. I don’t want a lot other than to maybe fight at a slightly higher level than I have before because I think I’d be pretty good at it with enough training and determination.

It’s nice to be back in the room and now that I’m back in the room I intend to stay here for a while. It has taken me a lot of focus and a lot of determination to tough it out throughout lockdown, personal tragedy, and life’s trials and tribulations but hey I’m still here and you know something? I’m winning. Ok so now that I’ve said that maybe I am a little proud of myself. They make us South Africans tough.

There is, of course, a lot I need to do better including not kicking with my currently bruised left foot but of late things have been good. In fact, things have been great, so much so that despite a week off next week seeing family in Spain I intend to step it up a gear when home and start training 6 times a week instead of 5. Just because I want to see what happens and I’m curious to know if I’ll get as sharp as I think I will. Goal setting has always been one of my favourite things.

But that’s just me. As soon as I have something to focus on I have two modes, one is on and the other is off. These days I’m getting used to flicking the ‘on’ switch again when I need to and it’s beginning to pay off. Slowly. Little by little. Consistency and perseverance are kings when it comes to improvements in the gym. No one said this would be easy but I don’t like easy. I just walk through tough like it isn’t a thing because being out of my comfort zone has always been the best place to learn and you know what? over 16 years on I still wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to the rest of the week and training hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

4 years

Hi. It’s been a few weeks since we caught up last but as always it’s great to find the time to sit down and write. I hope your week has been a good one and when it comes to training I hope it’s been a strong one. I’ve been pretty consistent with my training over the past few weeks and as of next week, I’m turning it up a notch further. I feel strong inside and confident that little by little I’m improving when it comes to sparring. The positive energy from training is something I carry into the rest of my life and I’m pleased to say energy is flowing into all the right spaces and places that make up me.

A few weeks ago I wrote about why I’m taking legal action against Avon and Somerset Police. Thanks to a tremendous fundraising campaign on CrowdJustice and some outstanding media coverage from the Canary plus most importantly ongoing support and solidarity from yourselves I’m really pleased to say I’ve raised the initial fundraising goal of £1500.00 to pursue action over a 2018 DPA breach that has resulted in a lot of police targeting and harassment over the course of time. I’d recommend the platform to anyone who needs to raise funds for a legal matter and can’t go via the legal aid route.

I’m catching up with Bindmans LLP early next week. Their reputation in righting wrongs when it comes to us and the police and state is formidable so I feel confident that although the road ahead may be a long one (hey there’s nothing new there) things inevitably will be put right, and the police as they should be will be held to account.

There is a stretch target of £8,000 running on my CrowdJustice in case we need to take the police to court over the matter, but as we’re also looking at article 8 breaches and intelligence sharing malpractice maybe, just maybe I can move my case into a civil claim. Of course, I’ll know more next week!. After 4 years of fighting for justice and to clear my name, I feel the glass should always remain half full. Later this year the CCRC is taking a look at the original wrongful and malicious conviction. Additionally, we are still waiting to hear from the ICO on the breach itself.

I’ve been very pleased to see many people on the martial arts scene being very supportive of my fight to clear my name and my ongoing fight for justice. I think sometimes when you tell people you’ve had a lot of police contact in your life or that the cops are harassing you it’s very easy to assume that like the police themselves, those listening will assume you are perpetually a ‘bloody criminal‘ It has been refreshing to hear people say “I can’t believe what they have done to you.” and the community of Bristol as a whole has shown a lot of empathy and can clearly see it.

But you know something? I’m not alone. It seems that the police here are quite willing to wage malicious, and often racist vendettas against anyone who decides to fight for their rights. The community project and independent police monitoring group Bristol Copwatch I hope is a breath of fresh air for working-class communities across the city and of course for anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of police misconduct and abuse of power. We are 2 years old this month. I think my dad would be very proud of me for being one of the creators of something so positive. I know my mum is.

Later this month I’m in Oxford with Copwatch getting my teeth sunk into the police once again, on a workshop on resilience, stop and search plus of course how to Copwatch. I think we’re even covering a little on SAR (subject access request) and why it matters. It was only by raising a SAR that I found out about the breach. The marker I had been looking for was there all along. When it comes to PNC entries as Bindmans has said the issue is the wording. Between you, me, and the gatepost it seems particularly malicious. We’ll see how things pan out over the next few weeks.

Outside of community work and day-to-day life trials and tribulations, I’m very pleased as always to have Muay Thai as my release valve. Like with everything else it’s a long road but it’s an investment in myself and it has helped me navigate many of the journeys in my life I have never ever wanted to make. An old friend once gave me a postcard of Muhammad Ali, and I wrote: “I am a survivor” on the back. That survivor is also a fighter. I always have been even before I found martial arts. I still walk tall and I’m getting stronger. Thanks to my friends and family for all your support and love. Here’s to winning all our fights in the ring and otherwise, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Every time I look in the mirror, dad is looking back.

Unbreakable

Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you once again and I’m really pleased to be writing regularly and often a couple of times within the space of the week. One of my biggest fears about writing this blog is that it can be either too much or too little. Right now it feels like I’m in the writer’s Goldilocks zone so here we are again. You and me.

I’ve just come back from a well-deserved stress-busting run and I’m pleased to say training is just around the corner. Of course, I do have a day job it’s just that I’m a lot busier when I’m freelancing as well as running my business. Although, maybe I need to give my business a little more time than I do currently.

Last year ended in a family tragedy and although there’s no time limit on dealing with grief I’m pleased to say every day I get a little stronger. As my mum said to me just yesterday “It comes over me in waves.” Although both of us are in different countries we speak at least twice a day. Mum is where I get my strength from and of course from my beautiful dad too.

You see trauma can be a crippling thing. I’ve been unfortunate enough to go through a lot of it in my life. From police harassment and a journey through the Criminal Justice system to toxic relationships, it has taken many shapes.

These days I’ve learned to carry other people’s trauma and find that by helping them navigate their own journey through the damage the police create I heal some of my own. I’m not ashamed to say I have a therapist who is helping me forgive, love and respect my younger self. That guy who made all those mistakes. That kid the police never left alone. The one who misses his dad more than you will ever know.

in 2020 we saw an upsurge in resistance to police misconduct and brutality across the globe following the horrific murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin. Misconduct and brutality that had existed for years within the police in the UK was once again headline news but with every event, every story of those we have lost at the hands of the police came a barrage of emotions.

Those new to the push for our civil rights learned to respect and stand with the families and individuals on the sharp end of abuse and brutality, I learned to navigate what the police have done to me over the years by helping others take action. When I first spoke to both my mum and dad about my stop and search years, I found myself in tears after they told me that the police used to stop me almost every day. Once a criminal always a criminal was burned so deeply into my psyche for a while I actually believed it was all I could be.

My healing, in the end, started with martial arts and ended with Muay Thai. Over 16 years on I’m still here training just as hard as I always have. It’s good to be back in the room. I’m here for life. Through( in my humble opinion) one of the tougher fighting systems out there, I found myself again. My shadow fell away and I realised all the misconceptions of me and the lies that I felt had been said about me didn’t matter anymore. The only person I had to prove wrong was myself. The only person I was really fighting was myself. Some things are just as relevant now as they were back then.

We’re only 2 months into the new year and already I feel confident that it’s going to be a good one. There is so much I want to do and have in my life I just need to remember to give myself time. One day at a time will become one month at a time and the waves will become less frequent and more beautiful. If you didn’t know already I’m fundraising to hold the police to account for a breach of data protection. Navigating the most recent trauma from local police harassment gets easier day by day. In the end, everything changes. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Filling in the silence that you leave

Hi. It’s nice to catch up once again, and you know something? It’s good to be writing a lot more than usual too. If you look at the journey of this blog, going right back to 2013 /14 you should a real progression. I first started writing this thing when I won my WRSA area title way back when. That was a good day. It inspired me to start telling my story and eventually, I came up with the idea of writing a book about my life.

This year I intend to pick that project up again and because I intend to do so it means that I will. Writing aside I’m pleased to be getting back into my training again. I trained 4 times last week and this week will be the same with a nice run over the weekend for good measure. Next week a new timetable starts at my gym, and it’s pretty awesome. It means I can invest as much time as I want into Muay Thai. The sky’s the limit when your heart’s in it as they say. Mine always has been.

As of this month, I’ve been training in Muay Thai for 16 years. Do you know what? when I first started I didn’t think I’d be training for 16 weeks let alone 16 years. Martial arts is a long game and it’s brought out the very best in me. It’s shown me I can do things I never thought I would and achieve more than I knew I was capable of. It’s been a good journey so far and I’m enjoying the adventure.

You’ve probably seen my CrowdJustice fundraiser in many places on the internet by now, it’s fair to say that since launch the first few days has felt like a lifetime, but it’s doing ok and I’m confident it will pick up momentum. My ongoing personal fight for justice is an important one and you can find out a little more about the background on the case here. The now-famous (or is it infamous) “Bloody criminal” blog piece I wrote for our police monitoring group has been viewed well over a hundred times. Sometimes, it’s important to speak the truth even if it makes your voice shake.

Looking back on those days, it was martial arts and in particular, Muay Thai that saved me or at the very least showed me how I was living my life, just didn’t have to be how I was living my life and I made my changes kept training and moved on. It didn’t happen overnight but hey I got there in the end.

I guess that’s one of the reasons why at present it’s important for me to train as much as I choose to or choose not to. It gives me focus and helps me heal. I’m still coming to terms with the loss of my father but I know that I’ve made him very proud over the years just the same as my mum. In fact, mum told me he was very pleased to hear about the community monitoring group and the work we do.

When it comes to volunteering and paid work I’m pleased to say I’m getting the balance right and you know what? I’m reclaiming my social life too. There’s more to me than training like there’s more to me than pubs and nightclubs. It’s when I take a look at all that I have that I realize how lucky I am and I know that it’s going to get better and better as the year progresses. The energy is flowing into all the right places. That’s only ever a good thing.

I’ve started to think seriously about fighting again this year and have decided that I need to make sure training is consistent and regular before it’s viable. It’s good to know that it’s heading in the right direction, however. I was told a long time ago by an old trainer that it’s up to me to say when I’m ready. I know myself and I need to work harder but I have faith that it will happen.

Anyway, as nice as it’s been catching up once again the rest of Saturday is looming and I’ve got a few things to get done before training this afternoon. I may even squeeze in a bit of Halo Infinite on the PC today too. I was playing it until 1.30am this morning being the nerd that I am. There were loads of explosions and swearing. It’s nice to keep busy at present and there’s a lot to be said in general for the support from my family and friends over the past couple of months. All is well. Be lucky and walk tall and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.

Why I’m taking legal action against the police.

On the 2nd of February 2022, I’m launching a CrowdJustice fundraiser to hold Avon and Somerset Police to account for a data protection breach that occurred in 2018 following a wrongful conviction of “Assault PC” that was appealed in both the crown and high court.

The breach has impacted my life significantly as well as caused distress and trauma and has allowed several other police forces including the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, and West Yorkshire Police to target me on anti-racist marches and demonstrations in the past, not only that I’ve had to deal with significant harassment and surveillance from the local police for over 2 years of my life, due to my work in the community as a volunteer for independent police monitoring group Bristol Copwatch and of course being a black anti-racist activist and public speaker.

The breach could also impact my career as an IT professional and Project manager significantly. With the upcoming PCSC bill, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness about police misconduct and abuses of power and of course to hold the police to account. A link to my fundraiser is below. I can see you, and I am here for our community. I hope you can see me. Bristol Copwatch is all of us.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/help-hold-police-to-account/

Happy new year

Dear dad,

I’m sorry we missed each other for the second year running last Christmas. I remember seeing nice photos mum sent me in 2020 and I’m pleased we got to spend some quality time together in 2021. I remember you asking me if I needed your help with anything and at the time I didn’t have much to say, but I guess fathers just instinctively know when their children need their support. I’m sure I’ll be the same when I settle down and have kids myself one day.

In answer to your question, (sorry it’s taken so long) there are a couple of things I need a bit of guidance with but I’ve already asked and you know what? It’s coming together. I was thrilled to bits to learn that mum said you were very proud of me for getting a community police monitoring group and project set up with my friends, and I wish I talked to you more about South Africa and how you helped your community and country fight for freedom.

When it comes to that, thanks for every little thing. Black lives matter. I was stoked when you told me you felt I had a right to speak on the day Colston came down. It was great to see how supportive you were of my journey into public speaking and I welcomed the advice you gave me.

I know auntie Blossom was outspoken as me and I know you were too when it came to black liberation and our fight for freedom and ongoing struggles against racism. You can really see the energy in the photo mum gave me and I’m going to buy a proper frame for it at the end of the month. I know you were always worried about me and work but you know what things are alright. My business is picking up again and I’ll have a new PM contract sorted soon.

I’m still getting my new year -plate spinning right balancing volunteering and paid work but hey it’s getting there. This year I’m focusing on getting everything moving forward as it was just before you left. Christmas just wasn’t the same without you. To be honest, I don’t think it will be the same again. Mum’s doing ok and we both love and miss you more than I can ever put into words. I’m doing good but taking it day by day.

Little things remind me of you. The waves are less of a crescendo now and I’m getting back into my martial arts training. I remember how happy you were for me when I won an area title all those years ago. You didn’t get why I was fighting at first but then you said “hey man!” when I started winning. I really miss you sometimes. I’ve just started crying again, but you know what?

“Where’s there’s sadness in the room, there will be hope and light again.” I have a lot to do this year and I won’t let me or you or mum down. Maybe I’ll fight again if I get consistent enough with my training. Either way, I’ll make 2022 a real success in all things. Happy new year. Love you forever.

John x

2022

Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you this Friday at lunchtime. Well, at least it’s lunchtime here anyway. I’ve been writing this blog since 2014 so it’s become a labour of love and a little glimpse into what makes me tick. Thanks for all the support over the years. It’s great to see in 2022 it still has a healthy following.

I spoke to Geoff Thompson way back in 2010 about writing and my idea for writing a book about my life. I also talked to Geoff about some of my life experiences and why I was fighting. At the time I had only just started on my journey and losing fight after fight although disappointing wasn’t demoralizing.

I realized from an early stage I loved the sport and figured that if I was good enough to get in the ring and fight to the bitter end I was almost certainly good enough to start winning. He told me a Vale Tudo champion he knew spent 2 years losing fights and in the end became a fighter everyone avoided. Now that was inspirational. And just for a moment, I could see it. So I stayed in it and in the end, just as I was told it would things took a turn for the better and I started winning.

A WRSA judge Annie Humphrey once told me after yet another loss that I needed to fight more regularly. I remember how happy she was when I won my first fight. It wasn’t the most technically superior of battles but back then nothing I did was. I wanted to win that much I eventually made it happen. That was fight number 8. Soon after that, I won a WRSA amateur area title and many people said I was a different fighter that day.

I also ended up winning an English K1 title for a fly-by-night federation that emerged and has since appeared to have disappeared into the halls of martial history. As the fights got harder I gradually improved and despite losing my WRSA title (my old trainer was kind enough to let me keep the original belt, in fact, I still have both my belts ) I was determined to keep fighting.

When you know what loss is you love what winning is and although fighting is much bigger than wins and losses it’s something you want to get back to. Comments from well-respected trainers such as “your record doesn’t do you justice” meant a lot to me. I forget what my reasons were for taking a few years out from competing, I think a girlfriend came along for a while, and I just generally lost interest in committing all of my time to getting my groove back.

In 2018 I stepped back in the ring again after taking 3 years out, I was fighting semi-professional or B class Muay Thai as it’s called in the UK, and lost on points but went the distance. It was only in round 5 that I came to life but according to my current trainer Dave Wilmott and my corner that day I listened. It was the 2 fights following that in 2018 and 2019 I didn’t and paid the price. Since then I feel that I’ve learned a reasonable amount and my focus is improving as well as my technique.

I’m now up to the grand total of 19 fights and know that if at the tender age of 43 I want to compete again I need to commit myself completely to my training. Before and leading up to Christmas I was drinking a lot more than usual because of the tragic loss of my father. I’m still coming to terms with his death and at the time of writing, I’m on the back of what can best be described as a wave of grief. It’s lasted a good 3 days and now just in time for the weekend, the wave is breaking on the shore.

I keep busy and keep active and I firmly believe that training and exercise are going to play a big part in my healing. Another reason I have stayed away from alcohol is that it’s a depressant. Problems are amplified. I want to be focused and strong although I know that at present I’m vulnerable. This year I want to succeed in my art and for the rest of my life.

Despite everything that happened in 2021 there were so many positives. My career as a project manager grew legs again, my volunteer work and the public speaking journey took on a life of its own and my parents were inevitably proud of everything. Most importantly, I got to spend time with my dad.

At the moment, I want to get my Muay Thai up to a good standard once again, and this year I want to see if I can get good enough to compete. I’d love to fight under full Thai rules, I think that I could but there is so much more to get right before that point. I’m happy where I am right now and I’m happy to take things one step at a time. I train out of a good camp and have outstanding trainers who are kind and understanding. Thanks once again to my gym for being so amazingly supportive to me during the most difficult time in my life. Every single day, I’m learning that inside of me there is an invincible summer. I’ll see you on that road.