Muay Thai has been a part of my life for 4 years now. I fell in love with it on the first day. Came right back to the gym the next day and told the man who would become my trainer that I wanted to fight. I can’t imagine not doing this anymore – not training, not competing. To never feel that stomach-churning anxiety when you hear “Fight #36, you’re on deck!” as you bounce around backstage trying to stay loose and also not puke from nerves. I’ve fought 9 times now. My record is 7-2 with two title belts. Last November I fought on the US Team at the amateur world championships in Italy and came home with two silver medals. At this point, the logical next step would be to start seeking out pro fight opportunities, while continuing to take amateur fights in the meantime.
But now my gym is closing. In less than three weeks, Tiger King will shut its doors and my trainer will leave the states to go take over a new gym in Malaysia. It’s an amazing opportunity for him and I’m thrilled for him but it’s sad all the same. We’ve walked this path together for a long time and I have no idea who will step in to take his place. There’s so much trust that gets built between a fighter and a trainer. This is the person I look to when I’m freaking out before stepping into the ring. This is the person I trust to tell me whether I’m ready or not; trust to decide whether I’m in over my head during a fight and if the fight needs to be stopped or not (luckily this has never happened). He believes in me and calms me down, even when I’m freaking out between rounds, absolutely convinced that I’m losing to my opponent (only to find out when reviewing the video later on that I was wrong, and my trainer was correct as always, and I beat her every round).
Now I’m losing that. And I’m losing my gym and my training family. The familiar space — the mats that are worn in such a way, the dents from that time so-and-so dropped a dumbbell, the intimate knowledge of how the ring ropes in that one corner aren’t pulled quite tight or how that particular heavy bag squeaks on its chain long after you’ve finished kicking it. The familiar faces — the ones who hold pads for you, bruise you up (“body conditioning”), and give you hell if you fail to show up for class. The training friends who prop you up when you win, and know not to even ask when you lose, but instead just grit their teeth with you and help you train harder.
I’m honestly not sure what is going to happen when February 1st rolls around. I don’t have anyone waiting on deck to step in as my trainer. I don’t know where I’m going to train. My options in Nashville are pretty limited, as are my funds. I know I’ll figure something out but it’s definitely an uncertain time. The best thing I can do is to keep myself in top physical shape so that I’m ready if a fight opportunity comes along. Otherwise my next Muay Thai fight won’t be until the end of June when I head back to Iowa to try to get a third title belt.
I know I’ll carry on and keep pushing forward, but it will be incredibly different. That’s not always a bad thing but it will be a huge adjustment. I still have amazing people in my corner — a husband who supports me and comes to all of my fights, friends who put up with my weird dietary issues when I’m cutting weight for fights, weightlifting buddies who help push me. As someone pointed out to me a while ago, I’m good at creating opportunities for myself. Time to put that skill back to work and find my place in all of this.