PREREQUISITES FOR PROFESSIONAL VIOLENCE
For many fighters, the decision to make the big jump from amateur to pro is one that has been carefully planned. In concert with coaches, trainers, teammates, and certainly family and friends, a fighter must make the ultimate choice on their own.
Often fighters will have a long amateur career before going pro. Some turn professional and some don’t. The fact is, there is a lot on the line; it’s not a question to take lightly.
The real question is, when is the best time to turn pro?
Here’s an outline of what you need to have and know as a pro.
Consider the following as the “Are you tall enough for this ride?” check for a professional Muay Thai fighter.
#1 – PHYSICAL & MENTAL COMMITMENT
You must be willing to commit yourself to this sport 110%. You can’t just train whenever you feel like it or take months off from the gym because you don’t have a fight coming up. You must show up even when you’re tired. When this occurs, you will have successfully found a way to deal with the voice inside your head that tells you to give up.
You realize that this is not a smooth ride from beginning to end, but one with many rough roads. You can’t allow small things to get to you; you will have to find a way to get to the gym and stay focused no matter what it takes. Commitment and hard work is what makes champions.
There is a saying: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough.” Work your butt off and good things will come.
#2 – SKILL
You’ve been training for years. Throughout these years, you’ve been consistent enough to build a solid foundation and have learned some fighting techniques as well.
You see openings as well as incoming attacks. You can properly attack and defend yourself. You have learned from mistakes in your amateur fights and have developed an effective method or style of fighting.
#3 – MONEY
Muay Thai, as it currently is, is not a good industry for the workers. Nak muays will not get rich off of fighting.
It is near impossible to make a living off just fighting. Most professional fighters supplement their income by training others or taking up a side job. This is something you’ll have to make peace with if you wish to turn pro, at least until Muay Thai gains more traction on MMA and promoters are able to pay more.
#4 – WEIGHT
As a professional fighter, you will have to leave amateur excuses behind. Excuses for not being able to make weight is one of them! Unless you are sick or injured, there is no reason why you should be heavy on that scale at weigh-ins.
To do this, you have to be disciplined enough to walk around at a reasonable weight even during off season. If you lack the discipline and continuously find it difficult to make weight as an amateur, you will have to figure things out before going pro. Seek professional help, supplement an additional workout routine, or create a meal plan – whatever works that makes you feel healthy and strong!
OTHER FACTORS TO (NOT) CONSIDER
To go pro, you absolutely must possess and understand the above four factors. They are crucial and unchanging from fighter to fighter. Ask someone else and they might include a few additional factors they deem to be of some critical importance. Here’s what they are and why they aren’t:
Compared to Thais, most people start fighting much later in life and for different reasons. Because of this, it’s quite normal for people to not start fighting until, sometimes, after they’re 30 years old.
NEVER let age stop you from achieving something, even if that something is physically grueling. True, with age the body is not as forgiving, but there are always ways to prevent injury and to speed up recovery. There is a plethora of information out there regarding strength and conditioning for the sport, and technology has given us so many ways to deal with fatigue and soreness.
Talent can give people a great head start but that’s all it is! Sucking at something just means there is room for improvement. Always striving to be better should be ingrained in every person, so not possessing talent in Muay Thai is not an issue at all. Hard work has produced many legendary fighters. As stated above, hard work beats talent, so keep training hard and create your skill.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
Some people don’t go pro because they’re unsure of how their fights or career are going to go. Ironically enough, some of these same people love fighting because of its unpredictable nature. The best way to find out is to do it. That way, you won’t wonder what could’ve happened.
Going pro is an important decision to make, but if you’ve got what it takes, there should be nothing stopping you. Keep learning, stay disciplined, and train hard.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.