I started the day focused, listening to my Fight 1 playlist trying to get myself pumped up on the bus. The streets were empty, and again it really did feel like I was alone. I’ve felt like this whilst training sometimes too, the whole process of preparing for a fight is at times very isolating, but when I stepped in the ring I understood why. It’s just you and your opponent, it felt like there was definitely no turning back from the moment I took the first step over the threshold and left my house. Game Time! I was the first person at the Battersea gym where there fights were happening, nice and eager, the organisers were getting ready and I sat down on the mats contemplating the event ahead of me.
Shortly after a few of my training partners came through, who were also fighting, and we began to conversate and I felt more at ease. I’ve trained with some of these guys for the past two years but this was a good opportunity for us to bond. We talked deeper than before and I enjoyed getting to know them better. There was still an hour before weigh-ins and the place started to fill out. I weighed in at 74.6kg, when I thought I’d be around 77kg. That was surprising, so the scales I’ve been using had me about 1kg out. I ate tuna past straight after weigh ins and that made me feel much better after starving myself in the morning. My diet regime was strict but not stupid. I ate clean, I ate carbs, and the night before I even had steak after celebrating Nigel and Dotty’s wedding! Was a good night actually, we ate steak and chilled, which took my mind off the fight the next day, and it was nice to celebrate the wedding with them, my Mrs and their friend David. I felt relaxed, and then the first fight list was put up.
Thomas and Adil fought first out of our group and did well, representing the Singdayt club in strong technical fashion I didn’t know when I was up but I knew I wasn’t in the first 15 fights so I chilled, watched the fights, and snacked. Banana, orange, raisins and a couple protein bars, whilst constantly sipping water. I went over a couple of things I wanted to do in the fight, picturing it in my mind, immersing myself in thought and embracing the nerves. Head kick. Movement. Body kicks. Jabs and teep. After the first 15 fights there was a 45min intermission where a few more people from our Thai boxing gym came which was good to see, gave me a boost, and the whole place started to fill out a bit more. All seats were filled, people were standing on the stairs, it was growing to be quite an audience. Then, the organiser came out and said that a few people have pulled out which meant that two of the Singdayt fighters weren’t getting matched up. I was pissed. Genuinely upset hoping that my guy hadn’t pulled out, I’d been training hard and sacrificing for the past few weeks it would’ve been devastating for me not to fight on the day. The opponents for George and Piotr had pulled out which meant it was still game on for me, I was up third, so I had about 15-20mins, the last of the Singdayt club to go on, the pressure was on!
I started warming up, joggers came off, wraps were already on and I stretched out for a bit. I let the rest of the gang talk amongst themselves and focused on shadow boxing. My coach, Damon, used the Thai oil and I got my legs and arms massaged. I didn’t want the full massage at this point, I wasn’t ready for it at this stage. I carried on warming up through shadow boxing, people watching, but I was still relaxed. When my name was called up I felt ready, I’d eaten enough so felt energised. Thai oiled up so felt warm and I was looking forwards to the challenge ahead. There had been no power down rule with this referee who was more of an observer than anything letting people load up on punches and throw hard kicks so I knew I was in for a rough ride. I entered the ring, Damon and Vuj in my corner, shaking myself out and listening to Damon’s advice. It was like my conscience speaking, it was smooth informative advice re-affirming that I should stay relaxed. Damon knows what kind of fighters we are so when we saw my opponent who was at least 2-3kg heavier than me, though very much stockier, I was told to fire and evade which is my style. His name was Coma Alexander, he was built broad and ripped, but a little shorter than me. I noted it all down and the calculations started.
It was darker inside than when looking in from outside and then crowd dissipated as the fight began. It was just me and him. I felt slight nerves but more excitement. Intense anticipation. The violence was about to begin and my mind was getting into that frame of mind. Joe Pesci in Good fellas. Gerard Butler in 300. Samuel L Jackson in Pulp fiction. Johnny motherfucking Quid in Rock n Rolla (also Koba in planet of the apes movies). The ref called us in and we looked at each other briefly. The bell rang and the Thai music played. He kept his hand higher than me, came out and fired a slow left kick and I timed a good teep to off balance him. I had space and as he walked in he lifted his left leg and his right arm came down so I threw a high left kick and caught him nicely in the face, with a straight right to follow, he kept coming forward, a little wild, and as he came in sweeped his leg and dropped him. It was messy but effective. He got up and was throwing wildly again so I kept him at distance with long guard, trying to stay out of range and when he threw a kick I caught it and swept him again. He was strong and landed a coupe of kicks but his teeps kept hitting me in the balls and I had to tell the ref on the 4th bollock strike. That knocked me out of focus a bit but I regained composure and landed a couple good strikes to finish the round. The second round I used my movement more, he landed a hard leg kick and we clinched up a few times. He landed another bollock shot which dropped me at one point and I think I slipped over at another point too. Damon advised me to angle off and use the kicks which I did and the third round went well also.
It was a good fight. I felt relaxed. At times it was intense. Like a horror movie your forced to star in. There’s no turning back but the feeling of pushing through is like conquerors on conquests. He felt strong and I realised hitting a human body is different to hitting pads, bags and even sparring. The feedback is different. The muscle and flesh offer resistance to strikes. There were some opportunities for me to use my hands where, I resorted to teeping instead which failed. I should have used more boxing but I used my angle kicks well and caught him nicely as he was coming in. After a nice left kick I could see him wilting. It was a fun experience which I definitely want to do again. I was a little nervous at times but I felt really engaged and present whilst fighting for the most part. I felt alive, and I enjoyed playing that game of human chess. I had to think quick, readjust, and react to my opponent. Some parts it felt like dancing, trying to smoothly move out of the way and then strike with Venum. I will practice that evade and counter technique much more whilst training and I’d like to fight at a lighter weight, maybe around 72-73kg. If I’m smart I can stay around the 77kg weight not going over 78kg. We embraced at the end and even had a little chat. He was a bit upset with his performance and he was slightly bruised up but he did well and we both had fun.
I feel good doing something difficult and it was nice putting my practice into application. Accomplishment and self fulfilment are some of the feelings I have but I think it’s a bit too early for me to figure out what true effect the fight has had on me yet. Maybe there’s none. I’m back to my training regime now, with a 4 mile run done in around 31-32min. I managed 8.04/mile which is my best pace so far, and I feel good. I hit the bag, doing 10 rounds of 3 mins and I know I have to incorporate the fight style adopted into my training. Footwork, movement and combinations need to be worked on and I’m back at Singdayt next week. It feels like there is another part o this story for me to unravel and I’m going to enjoy every moment of it, the blood sweat and tears are all part of the process of struggle. The struggle is the foundation of evolution, it’s going to be difficult but I’m throwing myself in. Thanks to everyone who came to support, that meant a lot to me, and to all my teammates and coach Damon. We’ll see how the next load of training sessions go and on to the next one!