The Fighter Diaries is a ten part, personal account of the fighting experience from the moment of accepting a fight, through training camp, right up until the fight itself. No other individuals apart from my trainer and I have been named.
From training sessions that make you vomit, to being close to mentally breaking, to screaming “SHUT THE F*** UUUUPPP!” at my trainer (in my head of course, never to his face), the third week out from fight night is when you start separating the individual that just “trains” into the champion you are.
Obviously things are starting to pick up now training wise, and as we edge into the peak of training camp, every day is a push to go harder and be better.
I don’t have much time left up my sleeve though. I wake up in the morning now realising how close the fight is. Three weeks away and I will be in the ring, fighting for a title. That may seem like a long time for some people, but in fight terms it’s no time at all. When your days are filled with nothing but work and training, time goes by so fast and the closer it gets the more excited I become.
As we approach the ‘due date’ I find myself visualising the event. It starts with the changing room. I can smell the Thai Oil (liniment) as trainers rub down their fighters as part of their pre-fight prep before warming them up on pads.
The menthol smell is inescapable, and every time I smell it my heart starts pumping. I’ve been preconditioned to dropping into animal instinct at the scent of Thai Oil, simply because you always smell it before heading into war. It’s kinda like Pavlov’s experiment – you become conditioned to certain stimuli.
As all my senses heighten, the next thing I become aware of is the sound of the crowd. I can hear them in the main arena shouting and screaming for blood. Although I’m in the changing room, the crowd is loud and I know how the fight’s going by the way they respond. When someone’s getting pummeled, the cheering increases. If someone gets dropped, the crowd goes nuts. It reminds me of the movie The Gladiator when Russell Crowe is making his way into the Colosseum. You’re there as pure entertainment and the masses awaiting your arrival are hungry for blood.
As I continue to visualise, the next part I think about is that moment after I’ve warmed up – the moment right before heading down the hallways and corridors and into the ring. The gloves are being put on my hands.
“Push your hand down into the gloves,” my trainer would say.
Once my hands are in the gloves, they’re tied up and taped up. After they’re on, there’s no turning back. This is the magical moment in a fight, because there’s no grey area. It’s all black and white, or as they say, fight or flight. Either you do it and give it everything, or you hold back and get punished. That’s one of the things I like about fighting – it forces you into a situation where the only way out is to scrap your way out.
The more I visualise the more I feel I’m present in the fight, and I start playing things out in my head. I hit this way, attack that way, and defend. But there’s one thing I cannot plan for, and that’s uncertainty.
I don’t actually know how the fight will play out in real time. I can imagine till the cows come home, but you never really know something until you experience it. Anything could happen in the fight.
It can be easy at this point to start doubting yourself and your abilities. But knowing that you have the skills to defeat your opponent, and trust the preparation, training and team behind you, then everything falls into place. You could say it’s called having faith, but it’s also about having belief – belief in the people around you and belief in yourself. You can achieve great things with just a small amount of belief – trust me!