The things they’d say behind your back
People have no idea the amount of pressure that is on you, when you’re a successful fighter in Bangkok.
A lot of Thai people are professional punters. Their only job is to go to fights and bet. They’ll study the form guide in the newspaper every day, just like people do for horse racing in Australia.
In Bangkok, the form guide shows who’s fighting, their record, last five results and what the odds are. It’s not just a sport, it’s people’s jobs. It’s big business.
The deal for fighters is that you eat for free, train for free and sleep for free. But when you fight you have to give 50 per cent of your prizemoney to the trainer. That means that when you lose, you’re not only losing for yourself, you’re losing for the entire camp. Then you’ve got everyone on your case, angry that you’re costing them money.
It’s super competitive at the top level in Bangkok and it’s hard to stay at the top for very long.
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Yesterday I went through my old scrap book trying to find an article for my little mate @rockkyy99 who is living full time in Thailand now training at my old camp. Looking back i can’t help feel so lucky to have been in the Thai papers and magazines so often while I was living there. I guess because I was the only westerner living full time in Thailand fighting on the circuit it was easy to stand out from the crowd. First pic is fighting Orono for the first time 1997. He was the first super star Thai I fought and the first Thai to beat me in Thailand cutting me 21 stitches. 2. After I won the S-1 at @rajadamnern_stadium I was in every newspaper in Thailand as it was the biggest prize money ever given at the time of one million baht ?. 3. Beating Duen Esarn on the kings birthday 2001. 4. 1996 after winning my first fight for my new camp Loomingkwan. 5. After winning the S-1 Sangtien Noi and myself thanking the crowd. So many amazing memories. I really have been blessed to live this Muay Thai dream.
The game has changed a lot though. These days, Westerners go over to Thailand and win 80 per cent of the time. But back when I was fighting there, the Thais weren’t allowed to lose to ‘farangs’.
Every time they stepped in the ring against a Westerner, they had a lot at stake.
The Thai people felt they had a reputation to uphold. Their mindset was ‘how dare you come to our country and try to beat us at our own sport’.
To your face, everyone would be excited when you won. Behind your back, they’d be grilling the guy you beat.
I remember beating this one Thai bloke horrifically, breaking both his nose and arm in the fight. He heroically hung in to lose by decision.
While I was walking back to the rooms getting high-fives from all the Thai fans, he was copping abuse the whole way. They were calling him a disgrace to their country.
You can’t help but feel sorry for the guys you beat, because it really sucks for them.
If a Thai fighter went overseas back then to fight, and lost, he wouldn’t be allowed to return home.
He’d be sent a message that if he came back, there’d be people waiting to smash him. Thai guys in those situations would often flee, or even emigrate to the country they lost in, rather than face the anger of the punters back home.
I want to be the Aussie Rocky
Finishing my career in boxing is a blessing. I’ve got a few injuries with my hips and legs, so it probably suits me more than kickboxing right now.
To be fighting Anthony Mundine is just the icing on the cake.
I’ve been following his career for the last 20 years. He’s done amazing things for boxing, bringing the sport into the Australian mainstream. Having this chance to share the big stage with him is very humbling.
This is what every Aussie fighter dreams of; the eyes of the country on me, waiting to see if the underdog can win.
I want to be the Aussie Rocky Balboa. The guy that beat all the odds to come back and finish on top. And one thing’s for sure, Saturday night will be the perfect finish to one of our careers.
My boxing record is 13 fights for 10 wins, all by knockout. My three losses were all by decision after 12 rounds. I either win by knockout or lose on points. I’d say that’s how this fight will go down as well. If he plays the game, dances around and doesn’t let me catch him, then he might beat me on points.
If I land that big shot on his chin, he isn’t getting up.
The next chapter
Muay Thai is a violent and entertaining sport. If fans of boxing or mixed martial arts gave it just one chance, I know they’d be hooked.
The sport has had a huge influence on MMA. A lot of people don’t realise but many famous UFC fighters train in Muay Thai, to take their striking to the highest level.
I’ve recently had people like Rob Whittaker hit me up to see if I can help him. I’m interested in doing things like that when I retire, travelling overseas and training the world’s elite fighters.
I had the opportunity to train Georges St-Pierre a few years ago. I was over in Canada doing some seminars and got invited to spar at his gym.
A few months later his coach called me up out of the blue. He said they’d been really impressed by the session we’d done, and they wanted me to fly to Montreal to train Georges personally for two weeks, in the lead-up to his fight with Johnny Hendrix.
I thought that sounded amazing, so I went over and helped Georges with his camp.
He ended up inviting me along to fight week in New York. I was there for the whole lead-up and watched Georges get the win. I’d love to have more of those experiences.
As soon as I retire, the gym is open to anyone that wants to come and visit.