Friday, January 11, 2013

Ten Years of Muay Thai

Ten years ago today was the first time I ever walked into a Muay Thai gym (Master Toddy’s). In some ways time has completely flown by yet at the same time it has been the longest, toughest journey of my life. I have been so blessed to have countless friends, family and fans around me that have helped my down this road. Even if it was something as simple as someone saying that they enjoyed watching me fight, every little bit has helped. There were plenty of times that I wanted to quit and plenty more where I just didn’t think I had it in me to keep doing this. The years spent living in the gym, all the injuries, never having money or being able to spend time with friends and family, those were the times when people’s words of encouragement really meant the most. Unfortunately it would be literally impossible for me to thank everyone, as there have been so many, but here are a few key people that have really stood out for me over the years. I know that I have left people out and I’m sorry, I love and appreciate you all!

To my good friend Moe: I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. You were the first person to ever encourage and believe in my dreams, and the only person I ever told them to. After you passed it destroyed me and I never thought I would recover, yet loosing you was the thing that inspired me to go after my dreams. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you. I love you man, rest easy.

Gina: You were the one who made me want more out of life, the one that inspired me to never settle and always look to improve. You instilled in me the need to always strive for greatness and to be happy with what I have yet never to become stagnant. I will always love you.
           Dad: Not only did you help me out financially to get started but you also made a deal with me to continue helping me as long as I quit drinking. And even after that first year when all I wanted was one drink to celebrate, which at the time I didn’t think was a big deal and thought that I deserved, you said no and kept me where I needed to be and for that I am forever grateful.
           Master Chan (my first trainer). You are the one that got me started and gave me the tools and teachings that are still with me today. I am so grateful to always have you as a coach and a friend. Thank you for everything Sir. And a thank you to all of the trainers that have helped me over the years: Master Toddy, Lookchang, Thonglor, Ronnie Green, Saohin, Don House, Jesse Reid Jr and Sr, and Kirian Fitzgibbons. My first conditioning coach Norm Turner and my current one Jesse Burdick. And to the gyms Sitkuanim, Sassiprapa, Sitsongpeenong, Sitmonchai and anywhere else that has allowed me to stop by and work out over the years.
           Anthony Brown(my road dawg). You were the first person to ever tell me that I was going to be a great fighter. All those years ago you saw potential in me and I’ll never forget how much that meant to and inspired me. Even in the beginning when I was just starting out you always had time to help me out and give me advice, I can’t even tell you how much I learned from you. Traveling all over the world, all the crazy situations we found ourselves in, I wouldn’t have been able to get threw them if it weren’t for you being there with me. Can’t believe we survived them all…literally! Thank you for always being there for me brotha!!

Dorian. You once told me, in the very beginning, that I was going to do for Muay Thai in America what Ramon Dekkers did for Thai boxing in Holland. I was always grateful for that encouragement but I never put much thought into it. But over the years you would always say things like that and looking back now I just can’t believe where I’m at. Not saying I’m on Dekkers level or anything but having you say those things to me, all the way back in the beginning, has always stuck with me man and I thank you for always believing in and encouraging me. I love you brotha!

Dawn: You were always there for me in and out of the ring, still are. Training with me every day, running with me every morning, us being alone in the freezing gym first thing in the mornings hitting the rock hard bags, working with The Devil (Norm) with me. More than anything anytime I ever needed a smile, laugh or just someone to binge on junk food with, I knew I could count on you. No matter how tough times get you are always there with your beautiful smile and laughter. I will cherish our time together for the rest of my life.

Mr Dayel: I always loved the days we trained together. I was always alone in the gym at the butt crack of dawn hitting the bags alone until the day you moved to Vegas. It was so great having someone to keep me motivated. You sharpness and technique always inspired me. I always wished that one day I was going to be able to see you get in there and fight Muay Thai, as I knew you could have been one of the best, but we all have different paths man and it’s been a privilege watching yours.

Mark Beecher: You came to the gym when I really didn’t have many people to work with anymore. I looked up to you man and it was great finally having a training partner. Training 3 times a day every day, beating each other up every single day, what the hell were we thinking hahaha. We’ve been all over the world together, training and fighting. At first both of us fighting on the same cards and cornering each other at the same time. Always felt safe having you there with me man. I wish we could continue to fight on cards together but we all have a limited time to do this and I just appreciate the times we did have. Thank you for always being there for me, in and out of the ring.

Chaz Mulkey: I remember when you first started training with us. Mark and I would just beat the crap out of you every single day and you would always come back the next with the same motivation. I knew then that you would be a great fighter one day. It has been a real pleasure watching you come up over the years and see the progress that you have made. You’ve always taken every fight that comes your way, no matter how high the odds were stacked against you, and that is something that I’ve always admired and part of the reason you’ve progressed as quickly as you have. I gotta tell you though, it was a lot easier training with you when you weren’t as good hahaha.

Ben Garcia: I always looked up to you from day one man. Your drive, determination, work ethic, humbleness, you truly showed me what it means to be a fighter, a real fighter. I have always aimed to be as good as you one day, even though you say I passed you up I still look up to you.

Kirian: Where do I even begin. You have done more for me then I could even hope to thank you for. There are no words I could say that could ever sum up my appreciation for you and for everyone at CSA. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life and look forward to the years ahead.