I trained in Muay Thai between 2000-2007. In 2005, after finishing university, I was looking for a job and a sense of direction. I struggled to find the former for a good few years, but the latter came in the form of a place in the inter-club competition held at the gym I trained in. I'd turned down opportunities to compete in the past out of a lack of confidence, more than anything, but also a lack of desire- I trained for fitness, which it definitely gave me.
Once I was out of education, however, I found I needed to prove a competitive streak just to apply for jobs in the first place. There were always more applicants than jobs, and the jobs were usually sales, which I'd never done before. So when the instructor asked for names for the tournament, I put mine on the board.
I trained hard for the fight, but the instruction and tuition just wasn't there. The club's syllabus missed out huge parts of the art of Muay Thai, and certain elements they taught completely wrong. Look at the stance that both my opponent and I use. Not quite how the Thais would teach, is it?
Not only is the skill lacking, but the opponents were too. Dermot, a polite Irish bloke in his 30s, was from my gym. We were both due to fight other people, but we were at the bottom of the list of fighters. There were maybe 30 under-18s fights taking place first, and the gym's tattooed mothers and other spectators had largely left having after seen their own kids fight. I was due to do a “demonstration of skill”- light sparring- with another gym's instructor, but this was now so late in the day that his whole team- himself included- had gone home.
One of the instructors, a hefty bloke called Cotty (accurately described by one member as “like sparring a fucking bull”) took me to one side. “Do you and Dermot wanna jump in and beat the shit out of each other?”
Dermot was our own team member. We agreed- we did that twice a week in training anyway, for longer than the three rounds we were about to endure. Here's what it looked like.
So. That's a draw, against someone 10kg heavier than me. Watching it back I can see a few moments when I could have stepped forward a bit more, but it wasn't a bad fight. Good times.