An Interview With Amateur Champion Henry Lee
When fans go to watch fights, what they are seeing that night is the final product.
They are NOT seeing are the endless hours of blood, sweat and tears OR the anxiety, doubt and fear that runs through the fighters minds as they prepare for battle.
A Muay Thai Guy fan, Bin You, created a beautiful video of amateur fighter from NYC, Henry Lee, in his lead up to his WKA title belt earlier this year. Enjoy!
Road To The Championship: Henry Lee, Muay Thai Fighter
An Interview With Henry Lee
Henry was born and raised in Brooklyn NY. When he was young he always wanted to be the strongest person in the world (probably due to all the superhero cartoons he watched), so when he found Muay Thai it was a match made in heaven.
At the age of 17 Henry had his first experience with Muay Thai and immediately became an avid lover of the sport. A few years later he had his first fight and he recalls it being one of the best experiences he’s ever had. He lost that fight and learned a lot from it.
After a short hiatus from competition, Henry came back in 2013 and fought in Ballys Atlantic City and won his second fight. After winning he got invited to the mecca of combat sports and competed at MSG. Unfortunately he lost that fight but was still motivated to continue with his journey regardless of the bumps in the road.
After the loss, he started training with Dave and Drew from Kings Combat Fitness. Under their tutelage he won several tournaments, 2 world championships (WKA and IKF), became the WKA NYS Champion, and WKA Eastern Regional Champion.
He attributes his success and growth to Dave, Drew and Kings Combat Fitness and believe he wouldn’t be where he is right now without them.
Q: What was the tipping point that turned martial arts from a hobby to a passion? Or from amateur fighting to professional fighting?, etc.
Henry: The tipping point that turned martial arts from a hobby to a passion was when I saw UFC 3 on a VHS tape. I knew I wanted to compete in any type of combat sports after seeing how exciting it was for those athletes. I chose Muay Thai because Im more of a fan of striking than grappling.
Q: Looking back from when you first started, what are some things you would have done differently in terms of training, strategy, outlook, etc.
Henry: Looking back I wished I was able to do a smoker or 2 before fighting to get the feel of it. Unfortunately there were no smokers at the time and I rushed into a match (which I dont regret at all). As for training/strategy I dont wish for anything different. It was a big eye opener losing, watching that fight on video today it motivates me to train even harder because it shows how far I have come from it.
Q: What were the biggest bumps in the road that you faced throughout your journey?
Henry: The biggest bumps in the road was trying to balance owning a business and competing. I believe back then I didnt have the right training and while managing my business at the time just wasnt functional to compete at a high level.
Q: Was there ever a moment where you felt like giving up? And if so, how did you come out of it?
Henry: Yes definitely! before I joined Kings Combat Fitness I wasnt improving at all. Mentally it was draining running my old business with bad vibes and with Muay Thai you have to be mentally there. I eventually made the hard decision to leave my old gym and join Kings Combat Fitness. They became my family and now because of them theres a fire in my heart to show everyone that hard work and dedication is real.
Q: And, inversely, was there a moment where you felt “this is for me” or perhaps a big break?
Henry: The moment I knew this was for me was when I got punched in the face haha. Whenever I won or lost I was extremely happy that I got to compete and learned from my mistakes. Strangely I also get to make good friends with my opponents.
Q: What is your favorite part to training and why? What made you fall in love with the arts?
Henry: My favorite part of training is everything! Seeing how much I’m improving from the beginning of the camp to the end. I fell in love with Muay Thai because I get to travel and meet new people (even though we have to punch each other).
Q: Having a coach believe in you is critical, as is belief in yourself. Can you elaborate on that a bit and why your team, trainers, and self-belief have been critical to your journey?
Henry: If your coach doesn’t believe in you, it’ll translate into your performance. Lazy coaches equals lazy unprepared fighters. My coaches push us to be better and I’m motivated to showcase my coaches teachings and represent how great we are.
Q: Who has had the biggest influence on you as a martial artist and fighter?
Henry: The biggest influence is myself. I have favorite fighters but I’m the one who is hard on myself win or loss. It drives me crazy when I feel like my performance isn’t what it should be.
Q: What attributes/characteristics have you developed directly from fighting? And how have they improve your life?
Henry: Working hard and being humble cause nothing comes easy in life. My life is more easy going now and its due to this sport.
Q: If there was one fighter (alive or dead) who you could train with, who would it be?
Henry: I don’t really have anyone in mind, cause I’m happy with just training with my teammates. I’ll train with anyone who needs help doesn’t matter to me if you’re a beginner or a 100 time world champion.
A special thanks to Bin You and Henry Lee for providing Muay Thai Guy with this video and interview!
- Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan owns & operates the largest online Muay Thai community and the #1 training resource for nak muay of all levels.