Fighting Doesn’t Come Cheap (Even For Champs)
As Sean “Muay Thai Guy” Fagan will tell you himself, becoming a champion in the art of eight limbs is not an inexpensive venture. Even most professional fighters need to take up a job of some sort in order to make a living for themselves.
With a proper Muay Thai gym membership being at least two or three times more than that of a fitness gym, and one spending at least twice as long each session, this sport can be an expensive passion to have if one’s finances are not well-planned.
Dedicating yourself to Muay Thai means spending money – there is no way around it. For many, many more fighters than there are professionals, there are those broken by the financial burdens.
Let’s take this opportunity to face some harsh realities about being a modern-day warrior:
Being A Broke Fighter
Unfortunately, Muay Thai fighters don’t get paid enough to make a living from fighting alone, if they get paid at all.
This is not factoring in other costs related to the fight: gym membership, medical examinations, traveling/food expenses, and fighting licenses. Sometimes a fighter may even have to pay for their own trainer’s travel fees to corner them, as not all organizations will do so.
Amateur fighters usually lose money from fighting! All of these expenses are inevitable and cannot be changed, so changes have to be made elsewhere in order to keep costs as low as possible… or income as high as possible.
Here are a few ideas (some more obvious than others) on how to stay financially trim while training Muay Thai:
#1: Sell Your Fight
Something directly related to the fight are ticket sales. Many promotions will give the fighter a commission for each ticket that they sell.
Besides being important to the business side of fighting, each fighter should do their best to at least let people know that they will be fighting and that they have tickets available. Some gyms may help out their fighters by selling the tickets for them, which is ideal because the fighter will have one less thing to worry about on top of their training.
If the onus is on you to move some tickets, you should follow up on people who seem interested in attending. Commission on each ticket sale adds up in the end and will ultimately help to put a dent in the fighter’s fees and expenses.
#2: Cook To Save
One of the best ways to save money is to cook at home instead of eat out all the time.
Cooking at home costs only a fraction of what it is to eat out. This is something fighters should be doing anyway; cooking at home allows one to control what goes into each meal (greens, healthy proteins, balanced nutrients) and what doesn’t go in (excessive salt, MSG, mystery oils).
Eating healthy should be every fighter’s priority if serious about the sport. Diet affects performance as much as training, if not more. Even if one ate at a healthy restaurant, the costs would be significantly more just per meal. Imagine how much it would be to eat there for one week!
The best way to cook at home is to cook in bulk. Use a slow cooker or pre-portion meals into Tupperware. This will help save time so no one is going to use time as an excuse to go out and eat.
#3: Get A Job
Kind of obvious, but you should definitely have some kind of non-Muay Thai work. Many people who are students and train Muay Thai complain about it being expensive, yet make excuses about holding a job.
Yes, one’s studies are extremely important while being in school, but if there is time for Muay Thai, there is time for a part-time job. It’s not difficult to find something that can fit into a busy student’s schedule, especially with many schools offering job assistance, even employment on campus.
#4: Squeeze Every Last Drop Out Of Your Gym
Gym memberships often are paid month-to-month, allowing students to go to any classes that fit their schedule and level.
Like with any gym, the costs are only worth it if the student takes full advantage of membership. The best way to make sure you get your money’s worth is to go to as many classes per week as possible. Training once a week is not cost-efficient when you look at just how much you’re spending per class!
For people who are done with school and already have jobs but still struggle financially to pay for a gym membership, talk to the gym owner and see if an agreement can be made somehow. If paying a bit less means staying a bit longer after class to help clean up, it’s completely worth it!
- Partying and eating out at the newest restaurants will have to be minimized. It’s quite easy to spend at least half a month’s membership in one night out. Opt to do other things with friends instead, such as watching a movie or hanging out at someone’s house.
- Make a budget! It’s amazing how few people actually do this. Write a budget you can live with and stick to it. Exercise discipline in your finances to mirror the unwavering dedication you give in the gym.
- Nightly prepwork. If not prepared, you’re most likely going to have to overpay for last-minute items. Forget your handwraps at home again? Guess you’ll have to buy another pair from the gym. Take an extra five minutes the night before to pack your gym bag, work bag, etc. to make sure everything required is in there.
There are so many things you absolutely cannot plan for in fighting, but finances just ain’t one of them. You can stick to a budget, plan your training sessions efficiently, adapt a diet that is healthy for your body and wallet, and so much more.
You can make small, almost imperceptible changes in your life that, together, add up to a big shift in the way you spend and save. It doesn’t have to be so strenuous on a fighter. With a little bit of planning and work, the payoff in the end – being able to invest yourself fully and without burden in your passion is so worth it.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.