Weed and wine, coffee and coconuts – life is all about the detail. Thus welcome again to another edition of Life of the Outsider; coming to you live and unsurprised from bamboo mansion three of five. The rolling hills and plains of Phuket looking greener than fresh bud or my kawasaki after the morning rains came in abundance. Today’s incomplete stream of consciousness shall deal with all the things I love and have loved; bikes and beaches, battles and beautiful women – living in Asia and the home of the sport I treasure. In what short time has passed this year we have found hard-work and heart-break, as well as many moments of splendour spent in awe beholding the grandeur of nature – something about the air here is magic, and lends a sense of wonder to all one can witness. Night runs along beaches bordered by stars lit from beneath by the silent flare and flash of yellow lightning – now the monsoon approaches.
If I am not to be found on the bags or in the ring, most likely I can be found cruising – beach crawling, taking in the serenity and practicing how not to think. Just breathe. These days a buzz surrounds this camp, for the hard work and sacrifice are beginning to pay themselves off. Words are hard pushed to describe the quiet thrill of roaming this small green bike along these verdure lined coastal roads, watching tendrils of steam rise and pass by in the humid air from tranquil thick forest hills; up, up and back to the low-hanging clouds from which they fell as rain some moments before. I feel the beauty of nature rest within me, and as I surrender to it, I realise that it is what gives me the willingness to continue with a single-purpose. To live is to dream, and to dream is to live this life.
With the beginning of this year I have headlined 3 televised shows in Bangkok, each one a victory thus far – two by way of 2nd round KO. Three of my last five fights have been KOs involving knees – career firsts – Jordan was one of the greatest teachers I have ever met, and I feel him with me. Parnpetch however proved to be more efficient when I fought him in Malaysia and survived 5 rounds – but he is a former Lumpini champion. I have been fighting this calibre of opponent for years, Channel 7 and multiple time Lumpini champions and every one has proven to be a teacher to me, for my goal has always been simply to learn – never to fear defeat nor discomfort. That is why in the 5 years since I arrived in Asia, I have racked up more than 70 fights. And not merely in Thailand, I have been blessed to have fought across the world. Purpose is to evolve and grow.
In this land where every meal is shared, I have chosen to live amongst the Thai people from the very start, never have I lived anywhere but the gym in which I train – with the usual turnaround of fighters and staff. I forgive all that has been perpetrated against me as a result of preconception. Thais have preconceptions about falangs which are unhelped by much of the cringeworthy cultural ignorance displayed by us, neither side is in the right, but similarly often neither is wrong. People are simply bound by racial inhibition.
I have made it my goal to challenge these preconceptions; to live up to the expectations of the masterful tuition I have been blessed to have received in the half decade since I arrived here, to speak Thai with a softness and clarity which challenges everyone’s idea that their language is their identity. To absorb through that langauage the Thai way of thinking and perceiving the art they call muay Thai. I have been on TV now here enough times that people are beginning to recognise me in 7/11 and on the street, in restaurants and at the beach. Surreal. Yesterday a local family gave me a bottle of naman muay as a gift following a recent performance. I take none of this for granted, that local people are beginning to recognise my efforts is as humbling as it is encouraging, and makes up for the years of poverty and hardship I have endured in order to learn this art from the people whose culture has developed alongside it.
For me to have made it this far is more than just a dream, every day has been a dream for every day I have had the privilege of learning from and attempting to assimmilate a foreign culture – no other experience is quite the same in terms of opening one’s own eyes to the vastness and variation of the world. “Why?”, you ask. Because if I can make it here, in the home of the sport, when every possible odd is stacked against me, if I can find success here, far from any form of comfort zone or safety net – then I can find it anywhere on this green and grey and blue planet.
Respect some, fear none.