We all have our challenges, and sometimes it’s good to be able to find encouragement in the lives of other people. Here are some people in the public sphere whose lives are providing inspiration to me right now.
Her ability to end seemingly every fight by arm-bar is note-worthy, but it was her relentless self-promotion in the lead-up to her title shot which really impressed me. Although her straight-talking style polarised fans, she got the job done, taking home the Strikeforce title and approximately $30,000 of prize money. Nice.
George Saint Pierre
GSP inspires me almost for the opposite reasons; his humility and professionalism speak to a martial artist’s heart. Not only that, but for months now he has been dealing with a knee injury, and has undergone surgery, extensive rehabilitation, and has had to endure a whole lot of smack-talk from the Diaz camp. He has taken it all on gracefully, and used his time to coach others and work on his recovery.
Kru Chatri started life the way that many Thai fighters do – in poverty. Since fighting under his teacher Ajahn Yodtong at the Sityodtong camp in Thailand, he has gone on to study and enjoy phenomenal business success. His latest venture, Evolve MMA, proves to everyone that the paradox of being a martial artist with humility and integrity and being a successful business-person can be resolved. His multi-million dollar MMA complex provides great work conditions and fair pay to many retired fighters, as well as allowing aspiring MMA fighters to showcase their skills on the world stage. There is something of a stigma involved in being a fighter, and public perception is that a fighter is uneducated, undisciplined when it comes to life outside the gym or after the fight career is over, and unable to manage his or her money well. Kru Chatri dispels this stereotype and gives us all hope that we can make money doing what we love without compromising our values. Not only that, but he maintains a good relationship with his teacher, Ajahn Yodtong, usually a difficult feat for a student who is ready to set up a camp of his or her own.
The fighter formerly known as Buakaw Por Pramuk has fought against his former managers for control over his own finances, body, career and identity, and seems to be coming out on top. After going missing from the Por Pramuk camp, where he had trained to become K-1 max champion, he reappeared in Bangkok claiming he had suffered mistreatment at the camp, including being underpaid and forced to continue training despite recurring injuries which weren’t properly treated. It was a sad story, but not an uncommon one, and drew parallels to the unfortunate end of the career of another prominent Por Pramuk fighter. However, rather than winding up as a pad-holder at a tourist gym, Sombat Banchamek has opened his own camp with his father and first teacher, and has announced that he will continue fighting under his own name. Sombat is an inspiration to anyone who was told by a former coach, “You’ll never be anything without me.”
Who is not inspired by this man? This is my first year of good health in the last four years, and although I’m enjoying my ability to live life again, the threat of a relapse still casts a shadow over my mind sometimes. Armstrong’s achievements after overcoming cancer are truly amazing and are testament to the power of the human body – and spirit – to heal and to thrive despite life-threatening set-backs.
Who is inspiring you at the moment, and why?