Monday, November 3, 2014

Forrest Gump

I've often felt like Forrest Gump. What do I mean by that? Well several things really but I'm referring to one scene in particular. He's been running back and forth across the country and eventually stops, turns around and heads back. He's being followed by countless people who ask, "Now what are we supposed to do?" The longer I'm in this sport the more that scene resonates with me.

When I started down the road of following my dreams I didn't had any aspirations of becoming a great fighter or making a name for myself. Hell, I didn't know what was even possible or consider that I could make it somewhere. My one and only focus was to get in the ring and I busted my ass day in and day out to make that happen. After I finally had my first fight, which I lost by stoppage, I just wanted to do it again.  I wanted to do better and better each and every time and to fight better and better people each and every time. I never thought about where all this was leading, who would take notice or what kind of impact I might have. There weren't any big promotions out there, it wasn't on TV, there wasn't YouTube and there was hardly anyone to even look up to (in this country). I'm grateful to have come up during those times because back then you really knew that people were doing this because it was there passion and that's it. There was nothing but hard core, blood and guts fighters, no phoneys, no one doing this because of any reason other than the fact that Muay Thai was there life...well, for the most part anyway. You'll always have tool bags no matter how under the radar your sport is but back then they were the exception.

There was no money, no TV, you didn't even know when or where a fight would be most of the time until the last minute. You didn't know who you were fighting, how much experience they had or how much they weighed for that matter. You wanted to fight so you fought anyone they put across from you anytime,anywhere.

I'm so grateful that the sport has been getting some good exposure these past few years but at the same time, the bigger something gets the more it brings out the rats and scumbags. I guess that's just the way of the world.

I took fight after fight, year after year, never thinking about where I was at or where it was going. I was just trying to be the best that I could be and to me it's never good enough so I just kept my head down and continued grinding away. As the years went by, more and more, people would come up to me telling me how I had inspired them or how they hoped to be as good as me one day, things like that. This always left me confused, especially early on. In the beginning I just had no idea how they had even seen me fight before or how they knew who I was. I never understood it, and probably never will, however I did learn to accept it. I realized that there were those that looked up to me and I needed to do everything I could to set an example and to give back in anyway that I could.

One day, years back, I was getting interviewed and he asked me, "What's it like being the poster boy for American Muay Thai?" "Hahaha, the what?", I asked. He went on to tell me that whenever interviewing other fighters he would ask which fighter inspired them. More often than not they would state that I was the one person that they looked up to and aspired to be like. He also went on to tell me that the one name consistently brought up in interviews with fighters overseas was mine. Clearly I felt honored by this yet just as confused as ever. I've never felt that I was any different than anyone else. I don't feel like I'm better than anyone, whether it's their first day or they're a world champ. I guess I just feel that we are all students, just because someone's been doing this longer or has had more experience doesn't change the fact that we are all learning, even the ones that are teaching. It's a never ending process, there's never a point in time when you just have it. I always tell people, "If you're starting to feel like you really just got this down, go smash your head into a wall and get back to work."

I guess this is where the Forrest Gump thing comes into play. I've been on this journey for the last 12 years and whenever I look behind me I see more and more people. It's almost as if they are looking to me to tell them what they should be doing. Hell, I don't know. I'm just doing my best like everyone else. I was very blessed to come up around Ben Garcia, although he was basically on his way out as I was just getting started, for various reasons. I'd tell you to go look him up but you probably won't find that much as this was mostly before YouTube and social media. Fortunately for me he came back around from time to time and we got to work together. I only wish it could have been for longer. Regardless of our brief time training together he was a person I always looked up to from day one as the epitome of a real fighter. He showed me what it meant to be humble and to be a warrior at the same time. He was the most down to earth, genuine person I ever met yet, when he was in the ring, he was a monster. I've always been naturally a humble person but he really showed me that you can be the best without all the other BS most fighters seem to fall into. You don't need to run your mouth, when you are truly great people know. Even though he tells me that I passed him up a long time ago I still look up to this man as my inspiration, always will.

Not quite sure where I was really going with all this. I guess it's like that saying goes, "You can drive all the way from New York to LA in the pitch black by only being able to see a few hundred feet at a time." You don't always need to see the entire path or even what it is exactly. Just figure out what you're passionate about and go for it. If you're lucky you will have people doing the same thing to look up to for inspiration. If you don't however, then you need to be that person and show others the way.

The endFace your fears, live your dreams”
-El Presidente'

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