The Diaries of a Rebel Ivy League PhD Student Preparing for his First Muay Thai Bout
This piece is the fifth entry in a six part mini series detailing the journey of Paul Muniz, an Ivy League PhD student preparing for his first Muay Thai bout. Paul will make his amateur debut at Friday Night Fights on February 28th, 2014 at the Broad Street Ballroom in New York City.
I have officially been through the cycle: I trained hard, I cut weight, I fought, I won, and I spent the rest of the weekend eating like I had just discovered that carbohydrates existed. I’m sitting here writing on the Monday morning after the fight and the dream concluded. I’ve gained 20 pounds in 48 hours. I’m behind on my schoolwork. My energy levels are low and I would love to just crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. I can feel that overwhelming feeling of “I have so much work to do” coming on.
But this stress is worthwhile to me. It is simply the cost of taking advantage of one of the best learning experiences of my life. The weekend of the fight—from the weight cut to when I fell into my father’s arms immediately after leaving the ring—provided to me a platform for understanding of self unlike any other.
During the hour or so leading up to the fight, I was terrified. So much so that when I started warming up, my shadow boxing was of such low quality that my coach stopped me to ask me what I was doing. Thank God that my two cornermen know me well and were able to work with me to lessen my nerves. This, to me, is a prime example of the fact that I can’t do everything alone. Sometimes, I need to rely on others.
This is just one example of a learning outcome that has come from this experience. There are several more, most of which I won’t realize until I’ve digested the experience more fully. I could probably rant for a while about my personal takeaways from this event and about what I think I learned, but I would rather end this series by leaving you, the reader, with a simple message:
Fight. No matter what, fight.
I have received awesome feedback from you guys throughout this series and I have heard stories about Muay Thai fighters who fight for amazing causes. For example, I have been contacted by soldiers and advocates working against the global sex trade and human trafficking more generally.
These, to me, are the true fighters.
Our Muay Thai training is a foundation upon which we can choose to do great things. With the discipline and dedication that we learn from our sport, we can move mountains one small stone at a time. So I close with a challenge: whatever your battle may be, fight it and fight it well. Work hard inside and outside of the gym and be the catalyst for change that you know you can be. Fight hard and fight smart. I am challenging myself to do the same.
Paul “Ivy League” Muniz
- Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan owns & operates the largest online Muay Thai community and the #1 training resource for nak muay of all levels.