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Welcome dear readers,

When people see a fighter take a beating, it’s often the fighter they feel sorry for. Not me. I know it’s much worse for the family and friends.

If you’re the one in the ring, at least you have some control over the outcome. You may be outclassed, but most wounds heal. To watch in anguish–in pure helplessness–as someone you love takes a beating? That’s a special kind of hell.

The guy who ran my first dojo got tired of paying a big commission to a convention centre, so he starting hosting fights in our gym. Never the most conscientious when choosing the right opponent for his fighters, he became even more lax. At these “fight nights”, almost anything could happen…and usually did.

My best friend was one of the fighters at his first event. Her technical skills have always been impeccable, and she’s incredibly strong. She also had years of training under her belt, and great flexibility. But our coach put her up against a monster. The chick had legs like tree trunks! Still, I had faith in my friend and hoped that she would prevail.

Every time the monster connected with a brutal kick, my friend’s leg buckled. It had no choice–the girl was that powerful. Each grimace of pain on my friend’s face was an arrow to my own heart. Someone was hurting one of my dearest friends, and I was helpless to do anything about it. You’re enraged; you’re desperate; you’re ready to jump in and kick some serious monster butt–but you have to keep sitting in your chair, a passive observer. That’s the most difficult thing about loving a fighter.

My friend’s wounds healed (sure enough, her leg was fractured). She went on to fight again. But I still get sick even thinking about how it felt to watch that fight. And the evening got worse….

A guy from our club was up next. We teased him about his unfashionably long, wavy hair (his nickname was Fabio, if that tells you anything), but he was a nice guy, a single dad who used his chiropractic skills to help anyone in need. He was in no way ready to fight, but we figured this little exhibition at the gym was safe enough. Think again.

We smiled as Fabio performed his signature move (a spinning kick, executed in the corner of the ring, far out of reach of his opponent), but the experienced fighter paired with him wasn’t amused. That little spin in the corner was the last move our friend managed before he was deluged with rapid-fire combinations. Stunned from a series of punches, he staggered and began to fall…and as he fell, his opponent hauled back and kicked him in the face.

Our colleague’s nose exploded with a sickening crunch. There was blood everywhere. I don’t know if he had family there that day, but for their sake, I hope not.

As strange as it sounds to those who don’t train, kickboxing can be a lot of fun. You make new friends, get in great shape, even have some laughs along the way. But it gets serious pretty damn fast when you step in that ring.

Like Billy Joel said, you have to walk in that ring alone. But your loved ones are with you, feeling your every gasp of pain, every drop of blood, every defeat, every victory. They live through it with you. I’m not sure it ever gets easier.

So, this one goes out to everyone who loves a fighter. I definitely feel your pain.

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3 Comments

  1. Story Teller

    Hey everyone,

    I’ve been taking quite a beating about this post on Facebook. The circumstances described above are extremes that partially came about because the coach in question didn’t spend enough time pairing his fighters wisely, or making sure they were ready to fight. That said, muay thai is a full-contact sport, and people will get hurt.

    If any other fighters would like to comment about why anyone would want to put themselves at risk like this – or hurt others – I’d really appreciate it. I can’t do it all myself, and another perspective would be great!

    Reply
  2. CeeBee

    My parents came to my first fight, which was a well-attended public event at the Convention Centre. My mom started to panic when she realized everyone was cheering to see blood – with her daughter in the ring. She was relieved that I didn’t get hurt, but let’s just say that she didn’t attend any more of my fights after that one.

    Anyone who decides to fight in the ring has to be prepared for the possibility of being seriously injured – and those who come to watch also have to be prepared to see it! It is unfortunate that there are coaches who aren’t responsible enough to set up proper matches at times, but it still is the fighter’s choice to fight.

    My coach just failed to do his research in the fight where my leg was fractured. The girl, (who actually was very nice outside of the ring) had only 1 year of kickboxing experience but had been competing in full contact karate since she was a child, so had a lot more experience in the ring than I did. The towel was thrown in by my coach shortly into the second round, since my leg was too unstable to continue, so my gym didn’t let me get brutalized.

    My opponent came to me afterward and told me how she couldn’t get a grip on me to land some knees (although I did have some bruises on my upper back from those knees!), so I guess I did a good job of running away. I actually didn’t even know my leg was fractured until 6 weeks later when I got an X-ray, because of the discomfort while running – and I was still going to kickboxing too!

    In the end both me and Mr. Busted Nose had the choice to say “No”, even at the very last second, but we didn’t.

    I always miss kickboxing when I haven’t been back for awhile and I know many other people who feel the same. Regardless of the risks, some of us find it fun and it is tough to find a more superior fitness activity, stress reliever – and confidence-booster. Also, when I’m a spectator, there’s nothing better than a bloody knock-out, but preferably it’s “the other guy” who gets knocked-out!

    Reply
  3. Story Teller

    Thanks for setting the record straight, CeeBee. Win or lose, you will be my hero. Not to mention my best friend. Love you lots! <3

    Reply

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