by Dr Gonzo
An edited extract from my autobiography, describing my first full-contact fight in 1991.
|I had been training in Muay Thai for about a year at Valhalla Stables, having spent the past eight weeks in intensive preparation for my first full-contact fight. The venue was 'The Site' in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.
The weight limit for this bout was 67kg (148 lbs)...welterweight...and when I showed up to the weigh-in six hours before my fight, I was right on the money at 67kg even. The guy who was conducting the weigh-in was Paul, whom I was lucky enough to have sparred in the lead up to my fight.
He was a professional fighter, and took it easy on me, allowing me to move in...blocking my novice punches and kicks with ease. I knew of his reputation and his fighting experience and gave him due respect...enough that he didn't punch or kick me too hard. At one stage, I moved in and we grappled...he then pulled me into him and rotated me, which I had never experienced before, suddenly going from the centre ring aggressor, then into the corner and if he had chosen, destroyed.
My opponent for the fight (Steve) approached the scales, and he looked big. At least six inches taller than myself and muscular. He stepped onto the scales and his weight was 72kg (159 lbs).
Paul looked up and asked, "What weight division is this?"
My trainer, Jim, had not arrived, so I said, "Welterweight."
Paul asked if I wanted to proceed with the fight. 5kg (11 lbs) is a big advantage at this lighter weight division. I looked at Steve and felt no fear.
After eight weeks of hard training, and daily sparring sessions with one of Australia's most fearsome welterweights (Jim, who now, after retirement, was no longer a welterweight...and more like a super middleweight), I said to Paul, "I'll fight him."
That night, all my friends had assembled in the crowd. They had heard about the difference in weight and were concerned that I would be outgunned, and perhaps seriously injured.
I had never in my life felt anything like it (and still haven't). The MC for the night was Malcolm (BJC Kyoshi-Sama, Blood Axe Dojo and Jim's trainer), and when he announced my name to the crowd, we entered the arena. All eyes were on me...I was so focused, I couldn't hear them, but I felt them, giving off vibrations of energy and anticipation.
We went to our corner and after Jim had gone through our pre-fight ritual, he put my mouthguard in, I entered the ring, the bell rang...and everything went silent. The only thing I could hear was my trainer's voice. He had put so much work, so much time and effort into me, that I could not let him or my club down. He called out the codes for the combinations we had practised every day, and I obeyed automatically and with deadly intent.
All these years later, I have one distinct memory. Jim called "OVER!"
It was the code for an overhand right, followed by a left hook. He had seen Steve coming in, and when I heard the call, I launched my right as hard as I could, and it connected flush in his face. In my mind, I can still see the spray of sweat coming off his head, like a halo, lit up by the bright ringside lights.
I just missed with my hook and went on to win over three rounds, on points, and when my arm was raised, I became the first winning fighter for my fledgling club (also winning the fighter of the night award, collecting an array of fight gear which I, of course, donated to my club), and is a record that can never be taken away.
After our fight, Steve and I met at the bar and had a drink together...two well-trained athletes, who only moments before, were literally trying to knock each other's heads off, now sitting at the bar having a drink and a laugh, in respect of each other and this sport we both loved.