Fighting, but not for a living.
Disclaimer: If this article seems too long to read, or you lose interest, please skip to the last two paragraphs as there was a particular issue I wanted to bring up for debate. I just included a little info on myself as from now on I’ll be documenting my fights. I’ve had a couple of requests from you maniacs to do so and I think it’s about time.
Height- 6 ft 3
Weight- 170 pounds
Reach- 76 inches
Nationality- British/American (2 passports, my moms Mexican).
I live in London England and discovered MMA at the age of 17. It wasn’t like a lot of fans I’m sure. No grainy videos of Royce Gracie submitting men twice his size or any other “as real as it gets” tapes. I had gone to study art and design at 16 after leaving a bad school in a rough area of south-east London. For any Americans reading, my road wasn’t particularly bad, but I can only compare my stomping grounds to “the projects”.
I realized very quickly I hated art. My mother had been an artist and I was sort of conditioned into it. But around 16 I discovered alcohol and girls. I went on a downward spiral over that couple of years and would basically have said “yes” in response to any substance I was handed. I was being sent home from college sick regularly and just hated everything. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself and knew it certainly wasn’t to study anymore. I was never a sporty kid either.
Around this time me and a pal Jon would get regularly get wasted and obsessively trawl youtube.com for violence. We were desensitized to it, and conversation would always turn to what works and what doesn’t in a real situation. Sooner or later we found a certain Kimbo Slice, and for a while that satisfied our need for a beatdown. Eventually though, we saw our weekly hero smashed by a certain Sean Gannon. No one really of note, and a sloppy abortion of a fight but this was a major turning point for me. Sean Gannon had beaten Kimbo, who to my mind embodied invincibility, and Sean Gannon “did MMA”, mixed martial arts. I needed to know more.
Soon my evenings were full of Royce, Chuck, Wanderlei, Tito, Forrest, Randy, Fedor and Cro cop. I watched everything, especially Pride and the UFC. I was 18 now and I had moved out of my parents house with another pal who took to MMA just as strongly as I did while I paid the bills with bar work. And turns out, his aunt and uncle had every single UFC DVD available to that point. We were pigs in shit. But it wasn’t enough. Like a lot of fans, I fell in love with striking.
Turns out a lot of these guys did something called “Muay Thai”. Next followed ong bak, an internet search and I signed up to a gym round the corner from my house called “Dynamite”. I walked right in, told the guy I wanted to train and fight and never looked back. 6 months later I went to Thailand. I was due my first fight when I got back and wanted to train hard. I completely fell in love with the lifestyle. Getting up early, training twice a day, all of it. Eating clean, staying lean and training mean. I won my first fight. I wouldn’t lose till 3 fights later when I was the only one who would take a fight with the former ISKA champ after his opponent dropped and lose on points.
It would take a whole nother post to document all my fights and experiences but here are the cliff notes.
*I’m 19-3-1 overall as an amatuer. One of those is an MMA fight which was scored a draw. Turns out the guys coach was the ref. Figures, I was slamming in knees from side control and got stood up…in addition to a couple of “glove checks” for him during the fight. Seemed more like a breather to me but ok, we’ll rematch one day.
*I go to Thailand every year and train at SuperPro Samui on Koh Samui island, back out in November.
*I started training BJJ a year after beginning Muay Thai at Gracie Barra in London Bridge, most recently attending a seminar with Roger Gracie which was phenominal.
*I met Royce Gracie on a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and sat next to him the entire flight completely by coincidence. He took a shedload of suppliments, watched a Brazilian army movie on his personal dvd player starring himself and chatted up a hot blonde chick in the row across from us. He’s a brilliant guy though, very humble and didn’t mind a chat with a total stranger.
*I got absolutely smashed in the first round of a fight with a Russian former Baltick Muay Thai champ. Only to break his leg on with a low kick in the second. About a year later at the same venue I fought again, dominated the guy for 4 rounds before breaking his leg too. The first guy I fought was there (whos actually a really cool guy) and I remember him and a couple others shouting “Not again!”
*I’m now training boxing with a pro team here in London, and Wrestling with a Bulgarian national, international and commonwealth champion as well as a couple of Olympians and Olympic trainers.
I am through and through, a fighter and martial artist. People say your one or the other but it’s just not true. I love every aspect of the game, from training, to technique, to conditioning to the fight. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about at night. There is nothing to me that can’t be solved with some sort of fight analogy or a session at the gym to clear my head. Other than a Bad Boy tracksuit (that’s mostly plain black), I don’t wear any fight branded clothing in public, ever. I’m trying desperately hard not to train at an MMA gym right now but have instead sourced the best Muay Thai, best BJJ, best wrestling and best boxing coaches I can find to build solid bases in each discipline and hone my skills. Eventually I know I’ll have to move on and train at an all MMA gym but I want to get a greater understanding of the pure disciplines first.
My main issue, and I raise this as a topic of conversation, is working vs fighting. I have had around 15 jobs over 5 years. I’ve only been sacked once and it was because I literally gave up taking it seriously and hated it, but I left all the others as they didn’t fit. I’ve done everything from plumbing, bar work, call centres, restaurants, sales, you name it. Currently I’m working for an overnight parcel delivery company in the back office and its proving flexible enough to make it work. I train Monday through to Saturday evenings, different disciplines each day, with Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7am being running and strength and conditioning, so its twice a day those days. It is INCREDIBLY difficult balancing work and training. I don’t have that much of a social life, I live with my best friend and see my girlfriend 2-3 times a week and that does me just fine, as well as most of my buddies train at my gyms too so it’s not really an issue.
So, any other maniac fighters got similar problems with work? What do you do to manage it? Hell, I’d even just like to hear some of your favourite moments during your fight careers.
Next fights booked, 30th June, 7th July, the UCMMA show at the end of July and 29th September. Write ups to follow.