Category Archives: Sports

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.

Reflections

Hi. It´s nice to catch up once again. Yesterday I got myself out to Spain to see my amazing mum for the Christmas break and of course, depending on restrictions on travel I plan to be home in Bristol for New Years Eve. This however is and always will be my second home in the sun and its nice to remember that of the many things my dad did with his life he also always did for me.

It´s been less than three weeks since he left us and like mum I´m taking it one day at a time. Some days things are good some days I feel like a black cloud is following me. Like an omnipresent weight is bearing down on my shoulders that is loss , acceptance and grief taking shape. Thursday this week was one of those days and I decided to train.

I walked in the gym instantly feel like I didn´t want to be there. Planning to only stay for an hour resulted in me staying to the end and releasing negative energy and channelling it through a positive outlet into something that might be a little rusty right now but is ultimately good, made me feel infinitely better.

After training as I cycled home it felt like something said to me ´come see me again soon.” I haven´t heard or felt that in my inner in a long time. In fact the last time was when me and Muay Thai first met way back in 2007. Since that point my art has been a constant in my life and always there.

I´ve forgotten the power it has to pick me up from the ground. It´s taught me how to fight in the ring and helped me defend myself on the street on a couple of occasions. But then again, I have always been strong and a survivor. Some say I´m a natural fighter. They make us South Africans tough. My fighting spirit stems from my roots.

Another thing I´m grateful for at present is the strength and presence I have when it comes to navigating the trauma caused by the loss of my beautiful father (Bayete Nkosi). Mental toughness and emotional intelligence have been the order of the day. These are traits I have been given by both my parents and have developed through my art.

My mother is an incredibly strong woman and just as beautiful as my dad. They have both taught me to walk tall and fight for what I believe in. They have always both been incredibly proud of me for everything I have achieved in my journey through martial arts.

As I approach my 16th year of training in this long and rewarding road that is Muay Thai I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for every little thing. You are my second family. Despite my world seeming bleak at points spending time investing in myself training with you then and training with you now has always brought out the best in me. Here´s to many more years. I´ll see you on that road.

43

My dad passed away of lung cancer on the 02/12/21 at 4.30pm. He was at home and with my mum and was asleep and just never woke up. I had a call at 7.30am that morning asking me to come that day or the next day at the very latest. I could only get a flight on the Friday.

Before he left I had a video call with mum. She showed me his face and asked if I could see the difference. “Yes.” I said calmly. I decided to go running around lunch time that day. I checked in with mum and she said he was sleeping peacefully but his breathing was slowing down. Vs the pain he was in first thing in the morning before nurses gave him some medicine I was relieved in a way but knew what was coming. I was ready.

On my run all I could see was dad´s face. The sun was shining the sky was blue and I was grinning. All I could see was my dad. All I could hear was the sound of my feet on the road. Road work is sometimes the best work. It is therapy in motion. It releases energy and brings in something better.

I got home from my run and ran a bath- Work had been up and down all day so didn´t care stage had been accomplished. Emails could wait. Bids could wait. In my bath a small voice said gently “your dad´s gone.” I got out the bath 10 minutes later thinking how awful it would be if I missed a call whilst in the bath about dad passing. I ignored myself saying calmly “I´m ready” as I dried myself off.

Dressed and relaxed I checked my phone. Oh a missed a call. I phoned mum. She told me dad had left us. I video called her back as an alternative to voice and told her how much I love her and dad and how one day I´ll have kids of my own and how…. hanging up the phone after the call I broke down. It had been happening off and on all day.

It felt like parts of me were falling away. The gut twisting anger of the day before, the grief like waves breaking on the shore seemed to be observed by me. I felt outside of myself. This is what shock is. I thought. My plans to train that evening were cancelled but I did spend time with good friends.

I had calls off of cousins and uncles and aunts over the following days. Thursday feels like two decades ago. My gym were and still are just as concerned caring and loving as everyone else in my life. We are a family. Just like me mum and dad always will be. We are forever.

The death of my father at the time of writing is something I am still coming to terms with. We say goodbye to dad tomorrow and next year me and my mum are travelling to South Africa to scatter his ashes. This may seem too personal but right now I feel raw. Next Wednesday I turn 43 which from what I´ve been told is young ,so when it comes to many things in my life I intend to just carry on as normal. This includes Muay Thai. I need to give it a lot more of my time. The silence and flow is where the healing starts.

When it comes to community activism, police monitoring and anti racist campaigning the beat goes on. However, that particular torch is going to get picked up again in the new year. For now I need time to heal and need to support my amazing mum. All of these things would make my father proud.

I´m back home in Bristol for my 43rd birthday next week then I´m planning to spend Christmas and new years with my mum shortly after. Time as they say is the best healer but you know what, so is Muay Thai. Rest in eternal power Owen Pegram. Thank you not just for being a lion of South Africa but for being an amazing dad. Even on my best day I wish I could be half the man you were. I´ll see you on that road.

The wave breaks on the shore.

Evening all. It’s nice as always to find the time to write and I hope you are keeping well. Despite not having trained as much as I’d like to this week it’s still been productive and most importantly it’s been a lot of fun. I’m noticing that I’m gradually improving in sparring and in general. It’s taken me some time but it’s getting there.

I think a lot of that is due to the fact I’ve been training for a long time and I know myself. One thing I do know is that of late I’ve probably spent a little too much time down the pub and not at the gym. Socialising and spending time with your friends is important but Muay Thai is importanter. Sorry I just couldn’t resist it.

This week I got back from Spain after flying out last Saturday for my dad’s 91st birthday. This Friday as well my mum turned 80. Of everything that I have to deal with in my life at present the fact that my father has lung cancer has been the hardest to process. In fact, I think I am still processing it.

My mum who is equally as amazing as dad said that it’s terrible to see a guy who has done so much in his life and was also at one point like myself a sportsman end up with an illness that inevitably destroys people. He hasn’t smoked in over 40 years. I had to say as gently and calmly as I could that dad is only in the next room and still alive whilst trying to ignore the little voice that said quietly to me “he always will be.”

My point was that as a family we have to live in the present and cherish every moment we have together. I’m pleased to say that at the time of writing he’s doing ok. I’ll do my best to keep processing. Muay Thai takes my mind off my family’s situation but also makes me stronger mentally. Fighters have to be tough and observe situations for what they are. What has happened doesn’t matter. The time that matters is now. I can’t afford to live in the past but I can value my time with my amazing father and cherish our memories.

Outside of my family life, I’m still dealing with a lot of trauma from the past but have a lovely friend who helps me through the tough bits. However, I’m learning to help myself and these days I see the cycles and patterns when they emerge. Being emotionally intelligent 40 something I’m gradually learning to love the young man who went through stop and search hell, through the criminal justice system as well as consistently surviving anything life threw at him. These days I use his experiences to be a force for good.

But you see, even before I began my journey into Muay Thai I was always tough inside. I’ve always been strong, but strength and courage have never stopped me from being only human. I’m not perfect I’m flawed and I fuck up from time to time, it’s just that these days I see the cycles and I see the patterns. I want to be better than who I am but love and respect myself along the way.

Sometimes I sit down in my living room in my favourite spot on the sofa and let it come through. It feels like a wave breaking on the shore. It’s something that training has helped me navigate and I can observe it and let it leave. These days the energy I take home from training I apply to positive areas of my life.

I invest it into work in the community helping others who are going through hell with the police, or take it into a 6k run through the woods and back, the confidence it gives me I take into the public speaking arena or I use it for a workshop to teach people about their rights.

Today sparring a new guy asked me if the belts on our gyms wall were mine, I said no they are our trainers but I’ve got a couple at home myself. I forget that the fighter is sometimes clearly in the room. It was nice to have him present this afternoon. I think my dad has always been proud of my journey through martial arts. His sport was cricket. He used to play for Cambridge.

At present I’m looking forward to getting my teeth back into training at least 4 times a week next week onwards, I’m going to cut down and not cut out alcohol. I’m going to start dealing with some of my shit better than I am at present and stay focused on what I want. I know myself and the waves that will always break on the shore. I’ll see you on that road.

People look up.

Hi. It’s good once again to find the time to sit down and write. I’ve not caught up with my writing for a while now but being honest life as always has been pretty busy. Things however are always looking up. This has been and always will be a good thing.

Although I’m not always as training as much as I’d like to right now, I’m still just as determined as I always have been to keep on moving and to keep following my heart in everything I do. Relentlessness and determination is the key to success in everything in my life. This month my dad is 91 years old so I’m looking forward to getting out to Spain to see him and my mum. He’s doing good. Like me, he supersedes everyone’s expectations and I’m sure surprises even himself.

Although everything changes with time, the light and love between me and my parents will never go out and I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with them both too. I’ve decided that in 2022 I’d like to get myself to a point where I can start fighting again. This means a lot of hard work in the gym and a lot of dedication.

But that’s ok because it’s the one area of my life where I’d like to dedicate a little more time. Everything else is balancing itself out well. I work as an IT professional and IT project manager. I’m a public speaker and community activist who helps communities hold the police to account. The rest of my life has been righting itself for some time and I’m learning how to walk tall again.

But I want to be a fighter again. I want to be a fighter who doesn’t just win fights occasionally but wins regularly. I accept a little begrudgingly that it may not happen. I can accept that but I know that if I believe in myself everything else usually follows suit. It’s just the little things that matter in training. Things that were said to me today like get your kicks faster on the return. I want to see you start doing that on the bag.

The simple things sometimes are the most important. Instead of spending all my time working on the kick, work on the speed. After all, I can kick I’ve been training long enough, it’s just that I need to kick better.

“I want to be a fighter again” ha. That’s funny. yeah, I saw what I did back there. I’ve never stopped being a fighter. I am a fighter. He just needs to step his game up if he wants to stay in the room. It’s not standards that are being imposed on me it’s standards that I’m imposing on myself. I want to pick up from where I left off not start from the beginning.

These days I sometimes find myself laughing in sparring when I get caught with a good shot or swept. I love training it’s good fun. If it wasn’t fun I just wouldn’t be doing it and like everyone else I’m learning all the time. I don’t always listen when I should but I do my best and I’ll work on the focus thing too.

As of February 2022, I will of been training for 16 years. They say the higher up you ascend the mountain of your choice the thinner the air gets. But that’s ok. I’m one of those people that looks up. Have a good week, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Acceptance

Hi. I thought I should check in with yourselves as its been a while since last we spoke. Things are good with me and I hope they are with you too. I think I might be slowly becoming one of those guys who has to remind the world how busy he is whenever he can. Being honest, I forgot how to slow down a long time ago but you know what? That’s ok.

Training of late hasn’t been going too badly. Some weeks like this week, I’m there all the time other weeks not so much. I balance it out as best I can and put as much time in as I possibly can. Its hard to stay motivated sometimes and I need to get my teeth into running again. In fact, I’m off for my second run of the week in a moment. Well, when this blog is finished at least.

It’s almost funny that I give myself such a hard time about training and running on the days I miss it but it’s always rewarding when I put in the time again. Martial arts gives me a lot of focus and although I analyse myself just as much as I did 5 years ago these days I’m very comfortable in my skin.

Sitsongpeenong 2015

In a brief moment of revelation yesterday at the gym I realized that my technique isn’t actually that bad anymore (I don’t to be honest think that it ever was) and watching a video of myself sparring showed me what I need to do better without me cringing inside. I’m improving and I’m feeling a lot more confident about fighting again. I’m also happy to accept that to get where I really want to be is going to take work and small steps forward are better than big leaps into disaster.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching varying training videos and some of the shows that are appearing online when I’m not at the gym. It’s good to see that things are slowly creaking back to life and I’m also looking forward to catching a show later this month that one of the guys from my gym is fighting on. Fight nights are always good fun and if I’m not in the ring I just enjoy watching the fights.

I feel a lot more motivated with my training than I have for a while and as always I’m enjoying the journey. Personally life is good, and although things with my family life are tough at points at present I’m spending as much time with my parents as I can. I accept there are something I just cannot change and I love being in their company. Besides, when I’m out in Spain I spend some of my spare time running and shadow boxing. That fixes a lot of stuff.

So anyway, time once again is slipping away from me. Between now and when I hit the gym for an hour or so I want to have got a 7k run in the bag as well had a half decent lunch. You know it almost feels like Thailand today but not quite. Muay Ties videos will have to do in the meantime. Here’s to a great week ahead of training and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Dad

Hi. It’s great to catch up with you once again. It’s been a long time and reports of my endless procrastination have been gradually exaggerated…mainly by me so now I’m here I know that I’ve won. Training of late has been a little up and down but I guess it’s a reflection in some respects of my life at present. Work is going well, social life is going well my family and my dad’s health? well.. that’s been emotional.

Being honest, I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of that right now, I don’t think it’s fair or right at present but being the amazing guy that he is, he is once again winning. His determination and endless resilience is where I get mine from He’s an amazing stage actor, incredible teacher formidable former ANC activist, writer and African story teller. He’s also a palliative cancer patient. He’s my hero, but then so is my mum.

Just recently I headed out to Spain for 10 days to spend time with both of them and despite the circumstances it was the best of times. I got to spend quality time with my mum, we ate, drank and did our best to merry, and we saw my dad at hospital every day. Seeing him laughing, smiling and demanding to go home was like speaking to my dad 20 years ago.

He is home now and that can only be a good thing. He’s fighting his way back to the best his health can be and right now every single day is a gift. Like me he is a fighter, he is tough and brave and strong and so incredibly gentle I hope he is here for many years to come. I’m out in Spain in the next couple of weeks and it will be good to see him.

I realised the other day that everything I’ve ever done has always been dad speaking through me. My writing, my boxing, my public speaking when I look in the mirror I see my fathers eyes. When I write these words I remember him in his study at home writing his memoirs. When I talk about why Black Lives Matter I see my daddy raise his fist.

When he first heard I was training in Muay Thai and fighting he didn’t know what to say. His little boy stepping in a ring. Winning a title. Then winning another one. And just never giving up. He used to play cricket for Cambridge and was an outstanding sports man. He has seen so much violence in his life he is a pacifist. The one thing him and my mum have always been is proud of me but never as much as me of them.

At school for my GCSE English exam the last question was “who is your biggest hero?” I wrote about my father and South Africa. There is a lot I want to and need to say right now but I keep pushing the wave of emotion down. I keep being resilient John, not little super John who’s daddy will never ever die.

It hurts to much to let him in and to tell him dad’s poorly and he’s fighting but its really serious and that I’m afraid. Every single day of my life I think about my mother and father and how I can support them. I want to train Muay Thai full time again not just “getting by” twice a week training but family comes first and work comes first and in the end, when everything changes all I will have is my mum, my friends, family, my art and my beautiful father. I’m sure it will be all or nothing as usual in the gym soon. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you on that road.

Armour.

Hi. I hope your keeping well and that this week just like the one before has been a good one. When it comes down to me and all things martial all is well. Although I’m not training as much as I’d like at present I’m still enjoying my time at the gym and feel like I’m progressing. I intend to get myself back on that proverbial horse over the next couple of weeks but as always it is what it is and I’m enjoying the journey. Fifteen and a half years in and I’m enjoying it just as much as I did at the beginning. But that’s just me. Mr never give up will still never give up. He’s always learning.

Along my internet travels this week something caught my attention. In fact it caught my attention so deeply that I smiled and wondered if they’d done it on purpose. Just for me to see. That’s been happening a lot recently. It’s called timely algorithms in action.

Wear your armour. Whether it’s a makeup, a band t shirt, your fandom pins, tattoos, jewellery your favourite pair of ripped jeans or something else no one else can touch or see your favourite song repeating like a mantra inside your head, the sound of your own heartbeat or the knowledge that you were brave enough to get out of bed today when everything else inside you said “no”. Wear your armour.”

My armour reflects my fighting spirit. Have you ever seen my dragons? my left arm and my right arm and shoulder are covered in dragons. On my back my dragon fights a Samurai. Order vs chaos. Fire vs balance. My dragon protects my soul. I’ve seen him in my dreams and he has a fearsome roar. He is the fighter in me and is there when I need him the most just like my art.

My armour also has put up barriers over the years that I’m in the process of tearing down. This is also a long road but an important journey. I see the cycles and I see the abusers. I remain emotionally intelligent and remember that a grown man is in the driving seat these days not a reckless kid, although sometimes it’s good to be spontaneous, not give a fuck and go with the moment. That’s a part of me too and something that’s kept me competing over the years. I get you need to get good at these things but if you have the heart then that’s half the battle won.

Muay Thai over the years has also become my armour. It’s about the aura I project. People know martial artists when they see martial artists like we know ourselves. Water no get enemy. The unintentional armour my art projects resonates from my heart and outwards. It’s a fearsome dragon when it needs to be and gentle as a lamb, even on my worst days. It pushes me through round after round and lets me keep fighting in that ring, win, draw or lose. Sometimes it feels like fire and more recently it just feels strong.

What I am underneath is someone I’m growing to love more and more day by day. He’s someone who despite all odds will rise time and time again. Training is part of his healing process and his gym is his safe space. Later this year I hope that fighting enters my life once again because I want to test his mettle. I want to see how new he really is inside and out. It’s where I’ll cut my teeth and it’ll be brand new again just like the first time. From now until then I’ll keep pressing forward training hard to fight easy, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

On appearance – Black

Hi. It’s nice as always to catch up with you once again. How’s your week been? mine’s been pretty joyous of late. Let’s rewind back to the end of last weekend and my trip overseas to see my parents. I’ve not seen them in close to a year but it felt like longer. I spent a good few days in the sun, had some nice runs and spent lots of time in the pool. Carlos says hi.

Most importantly, I got to spend time with my mum and dad, and if work wasn’t calling this week onwards I would no doubt still be out in Spain. Which brings back to the second joyous event which is after a significant lull in contract work I’m lucky enough to be working with a community organisation for the next few months in London as an IT project manager.

Of my many skills in the sector I’ve worked in now for over 10 years project management has become one of my most well paid and developed. I like challenges and I like helping people achieve their goals. I guess some of that stems from martial arts and the desire to help others from community volunteering and organising.

Either way, I’m pleased to be addressing areas of my life that were falling short. I’m also back on the horse when it comes to police monitoring. Which is always a good thing. As the saying goes when your facing the right direction, just keep walking. It’s something I can apply to most areas of my life and more often than not do. Helping others is rewarding and in my own way I guess it means I’m fighting back too.

You see, Bristol Copwatch is a lot more than a social media presence despite the lies the police and their allies (by allies I mean rats.) may tell you. We are an independent community focused police monitoring group who monitor the police on the street and across the UK. We are also a group of people with lived experience of police harassment and brutality and most importantly police corruption. We’ve been out in St Pauls, in Easton and around black and brown communities in the city off and on for over 12 months. We’re still young and have raised over 3 thousand in funds.

There is a long history of resistance to the police in black and brown communities and of course, many people in society these days can see the problem with policing (it’s going to get worse before it gets better.) If you’ve ever taken action over any matter you’ll be well aware of what the cops try to put you through, targeting, harassment, malicious arrests.. we’ve been there and most importantly I’ve been there. Sit down with me and I’ll tell you what’s been dealt to me since the age of 16.

It’s something that’s left it’s scars and that I’m working through healing with the help of a lovely friend. Those scars came back into focus earlier this year when I discovered that despite my brown skin I’d been misidentified as white. After much wailing and nashing of teeth the home office (you read that right, the home office) put me in the right box. “On appearance BLACK”. Well it was kind of the right box… but let’s not nit pick.

However, it got me thinking about the micro aggressions I’ve faced consistently over the course of my life to out and out racism (I first experienced it at about age 6 ) and at points the lack of my acknowledgement by some of my identity as a black man. Because, despite what you may be thinking I don’t have a “tan” and I’m not “half white.” White supremacy has never allowed for being half of anything let alone it’s favourite colour. Race and identity matter. It creates barriers and aggressions that I run into that you, if your a white person just won’t.

Sadly in martial arts those aggressions have reared their head more than once. My clearest memory of encountering racism in a Thai boxing gym was being told very vocally one summer many years ago that I looked like I’d jumped in the fucking mud. Silence from me. The person of course was just joking it was just a joke mate!. This of course in a training environment is completely unacceptable. So are monkey noises as is being told that I’m a “monkey looking c***” just joking just joking. Of course it’s just a joke.

I may be so laid back I’m almost horizontal but there are things that I don’t find ok. And I question the white silence that has emerged when the events above have occurred. We may live in a racist society but if anything that means we should all strive to be more anti racist than ever before. I walk into a gym to escape the day to day bullshit I run into. This includes police harassment, (I went through the stop and search paradigm in my youth so I’m no stranger) work and volunteering trials and tribulations, racism on a daily basis (the insidious snide sort the middle classes like is the worst) and everything else in between.

What I’ve never expected to have to deal with and still don’t is continuations of that racism in a place that has over the past 15 or so years become my home. But sadly, from time to time whoop there it is and I realise some people have a lot they need to unpack. However, me being me I just walk on by, hit the bag , hit the pads spar and have a nice time. When these events have unfolded in the past I’ve shrugged them off. Sometimes I don’t think I should any more. However, just like in life its not representative of the city I live in, and in training when its emerged its not representative of the calibre of my gyms past and present.

I’m pleased to say I’m training again the rest of this week, and I’m completely COVID free. I guess I’m blessed. Well that and partially vaccinated. It’s going to be good to get back into the mix and focus on improving once again. Looking at photos of myself earlier was like looking at an older version of me. It’s going to be fun seeing what the new guy has to offer. On appearance he’s black. He still has a soul and will no doubt be back in the ring soon. Watch. In the meantime. have a great week and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.

Carlos is here only once.

Evening all, despite arriving every so slightly fashionably late than last week my blog has once again returned. It’s good as always to be able to sit down and write. I hope things are good with you they really aren’t too bad with me at all, travel hiccups and summer colds aside last week including the weekend was a good one.

I’ve got so used to delays and complications with travelling abroad it’s water off a duck’s back although ultimately upsetting when things go wrong. Do you remember the good old days when you could just get on a plane and go where the fuck you wanted to? Yeah me as well. Thankfully, I’ve successfully reset since Saturday and this week prepare for round three of my very own personal groundhog day. Or maybe it’s the Edge of tomorrow.

Either way, I’m looking forward to a long weekend in the sun with my nearest and dearest. Of course, I’ll be back out to see them over the summer too but seeing as we’ve spent nearly 2 years apart I have to admit I’m excited.

If you follow my Insta as well as Twitter brace yourself for a weekend of Jazz hands and my infamous “I’ll tear your soul out” Thai boxing shark like grin that happens when I’m either really happy or when I’m about to punch someone. Competitively of course. Besides, it’s over 40 degrees and most importantly we’ve got a swimming pool and that swimming pool has a dolphin I miss. His name is Carlos.

Carlos is here only once.

Despite this post being slightly more bling than usual, (I don’t normally share photos of my secret Spanish villas just in case ) I just want you to know I am infinitely grateful and lucky to be able to go and see my parents. Both of them have always put me before themselves and are selfless people, who are both ex teachers and worked very hard for what they’ve got. There’s no disputing that some of their traits have absolutely rubbed off on me and there’s no better feeling than being able to recalibrate, recharge and come back refreshed for the rest of the summer. Even if I face more delays or complications there’s very little that will keep us apart or ever damage the relationship we have as a family.

Being an only child some say carries a lot of responsibility. My parents have always let me live life on my terms and just as fully as they have. My father as a black man growing up in South Africa resisted the apartheid regime with his sisters and came here to teach and start a new life. His life and his journey is truly incredible, beautiful and ultimately liberating. He was actually one of the political exiles that fled South Africa at the height of the troubles and wasn’t allowed back home until the fascist regime was broken and done.

My mum met my dad in London when she was teaching black kids with one of his sisters. She’s a feminist and has travelled around the world and has seen all 7 wonders. She’s a working class lady who knows struggle and taught me to get to know my African roots and culture. She’s also just as amazing as my father and from what I recall was a formidable teacher way back when. They’ve always taught me to just be me and to stand up for my rights. They’ve also watched me fuck up and fall time and time again and have never turned their backs on me. I’m a survivor and a fighter because I’ve inherited it from them. I have African blood. What did you expect?

At the moment I have clear and defined goals with everything I want in my life. There’s a lot I’m putting right and it’s fantastic to have my focus back at the level I do right now. I’ve realised that nothing needs to be rushed when it comes to training, relationships, work and everything else in between. The roadmap I’ve created as I’ve found my feet once again is clear and the way ahead is bright and most importantly I’m out here and I’m having fun just being me.

It’s got new speaker bio photo written all over it.

Because you see, I’m confident that this well deserved break is going to do me the world of good. In fact, right now for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m winning and I’m stronger. As soon as I’m back from my weekend in the sun I’m back to training five times a week again although even four sessions a week is currently enough. I’m improving and what’s nice to see is that I’m listening to my trainers more than I was before. We’re a good camp, in fact I’d be as bold enough to say we’re one of the best in Bristol.

I’d like to be able to fight under full Thai rules at least once in my fighting career and to do that I need to continue to push myself to be better than what I am right now. It’s exciting that the energy in my quest for self improvement in the gym is helping fix some areas of my life I’ve neglected for far too long. Observing myself and my thoughts and understanding my limitations and how I can surpass them is an ongoing process, but it’s a good journey and going back inside to tighten my game has given me a new found confidence I forgot existed.

Of course, throughout the past five weeks or so my friends have been there for me when I’ve needed them the most and I know that I’ll never walk alone. My dear friends like my dear family have never turned their back on me. It’s the sort of thing I don’t forget and will repay in my own way and in my own time.

I can see and hear the 20 something inside who’s still as reckless, adventurous and impulsive as he always was. I’m getting to know him again and I’m learning how to fix what hurt him little by little and day by day. He’s been stop and searched by the police over 50 times in his life. He went through the criminal justice system backwards. He still has a lot to say and like me he loves helping others. I think in time, that we’ll be good friends. I’m actually that fighter and ex champion he never thought he would be.

Being able to see the parts of me now that around two months ago were screaming for recognition and to be heard is liberating. It felt like everything had fallen to pieces and my life was a mess when the worst happened. The burnout breakdown that came, came hard and was down to never giving myself time to breathe. . I saw the cycle develop and stopped when I saw the edge. I’ve put that down to life experience and letting the grown man drive the emotional wreck to safety at the time.

Nearly two months on I’m back on my feet again and better than I’ve ever been. Everything as they say happens for a reason. Sometimes, things fall apart so something or someone better can emerge. As the I Ching said to me recently “good things are coming and are not to be rushed.” I think the new John is going to leave the negatives in his life in the dust. For now, that’s just about all she wrote. It’s been good as always catching up with you and I hope this week is an excellent one. On your way out don’t forget to say hi to Carlos. He’s only here once. Train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.