I’ve recently had the pleasure to interview someone that’s been actively training and around our sport for over 20 years.
I have trained with Nash Patel many many times over the years. He has seen many changes in our sport and witnessed its debatable peak in years past. He is a successful businessman and all round good guy.
My first memory of Nash was at the first incarnation of Kru Richard Lewis’ gym Prestwich Thai boxing. Now this club was the stepping stone and sought after gym for those wanting to learn in a dynamic technical way as well as a heaven for budding fighters and champions alike. In typical Nash style with his wealth of experience.
“Take it easy Matt, your pushing yourself too hard, its not just about fighting, you have to look after yourself, and have fun mate”
Never forgot him and what he said. He has helped guide countless young men to success and been a one stop shop for advice and above all, always a happy smile glad to see you and actually cares and listens to what you say. He is and always will be an integral part of Kru Rick Lewis’ team.
We closed off the changing rooms as a class continued in the background, the smell of Thai oil and the odd socks hanging from the hooks with the sweat suit and seasoned cracked and worn gloves dangling looking sad for themselves.
Hi mate, you ready?
Nash: yes mate
What first attracted you to muay Thai?
Nash: I saw master sken at a demonstration in the 80’s. It was different and looked great. That was the start for me.
How long have you trained in Thai Boxing?
Nash: oh, over twenty years now
Do you mind me asking how old you are?
Nash: Matt you’ll get yourself knocked out if your not careful ha ha. I’m not telling you that, lets say its plus 35!
Have you seen any changes in the sport in the time you have been involved?
Nash: well yeah, there’s a lot of changes in the sport. Health and safety is the biggest thing that’s changed. We didn’t ever use shin pads in training we trained a lot harder and the fights were a lot tougher! Also the gyms that are cropping up now. The people running them seem to train someone for a short time put them in the ring for 5 maybe 6 fights and they are a champion. In my opinion there isn’t a lot of good gyms around.
Do you think the champions of your generation that you trained with and saw at the shows were trained tougher than now?
Nash: oh yeah definitely a lot tougher. The guys around back then we’re trained harder and opponents were tough. There were some tough tough guys on the scene then. These days its so fragmented and watered down. It’s a watered down version.
Do you think Thai Boxing has helped you outside of the ring and played a part in your success?
Nash: well yeah it keeps me fit, healthy and focussed
Do you have a favorite fighter from the past or present day?
Nash: Richard, Kru Rick lewis. He was electric, great to watch and always put a show on for everyone. Kru Phil nurse too! He was amazing in the ring, Phil taught Rick so they both had that style you don’t see anymore.
Do you think Rick is good at teaching his students that style he has?
Nash: yeah absolutely, its not flash without purpose, its all business and he’s great and getting that edge out of people and building them into that technical powerful kind of technique.
Is there a secret to training as long as you have and continue to? Or do you have any advice to someone starting out or thinking of trying Thai Boxing?
Nash: well the key is to focus on the basics and have fun. Keep training, keep coming back, the more you are there the fitter you get and the better you are. The technical side of the sport can come then and you find it easier. Just keep it up and keep training.
In your opinion where will the sport be in 20 years time?
Nash: I hope it’s in a better place than it is now.
Would you say we are in a low spot at the moment?
Nash: I think it’s at a low yes. Cage fighting and UFC came along and took over. Muay Thai has so much more to offer. MMA bouts that are all stand up fighting is what people remember and that’s essentially muay Thai. I think the people involved missed the boat whether it was bad marketing or too many organisations but a big part is thelack of pay for the fighters. Professional fighters getting paid as little as £40 to fight. All that training conditioning its not fair.
That’s an on going issue isn’t it?
Nash: yeah the training is so intensive for a professional fighter, its a tough game, body knees, elbows legs all that needs conditioning. It’s a joke getting paid so little.
Would you say it undermines the professionality of the sport?
Nash: it does I mean an ammateur boxer can make 2 grand for a fight.
To say a Boxing super power like WBC are involved in Thai Boxing and the finances marketing capabilities and respect at their disposal its a bit of a joke isn’t it?
Nash: I was talking to a Boxing instructor at a show and he couldn’t believe the fitness and conditioning of the fighters, its hard work and tough in that ring. He could not believe that the fighters that day were doing it for free. Zero, no pay at all at professional level. It’s a disgrace.
What’s your favorite technique?
Nash: one two left hook body kick
Basics are the best ey?
Nash:absolutely oh and knee, knee and knee and knee!!
If you could change anything about the sport what would it be?
Nash: I’ve never thought about that. I wouldn’t change the art or the training, I just wish it got more recognition.
Wise words as always from a living legend. Give him some time if your lucky enough to meet him. He loves the sport and knows more than most what it needs and probably, if your lucky, he will give you some advice. An honour and a pleasure to interview Nash Patel of Phoenix Thai Boxing.