Monday, August 17, 2015

Must you be a champion to succeed at sport?

Bangkok Beat book muaythai Melissa Ray
Blogging about sport can be so vast sometimes I lose track of who or what I want to focus on, maybe you find the same?

But in the last few weeks I've noticed a few people picking up on a trend in martial arts/ boxing posts: do we all need to be a world champion to succeed in our sport?

One blogger answers this pretty definitively, but in book form unusually.

My copy of 'Bangkok Beat' by Kevin Cummins got squashed through the letter-box this week and includes an interview with female MuayThai fighter Melissa Ray.

The book itself is more a fascinating catch-gatherum of foreigners who move to Thailand to produce art - books mainly but also jazz music, photography and painting. You forget these people exist behind the more obvious sex-tourists, backpackers and MuayThai fans.

Among the usual questions asked of Melissa (who blogs at MuayThai on the Brain) about women's role in the sport, the buzz of fighting Cummins got in a rather brilliant open-shot when he asked what she hates being asked about.

Reply: “I have always hated answering questions about my record. In the West people can  be quite judgemental about records, however I don't believe a boxer's fight record necessarily provides an accurate reflection of their fighting abilities.

"A friend of mine has had a few losses in a row against top Thais in his weight division. Another fighting might have had a string of easy KO wins against less opponents but accord to this record looks the better fighter on paper. People say you learn from more a loss than a win and that is certainly true.”

Of course the average fighter, myself included back in the day, will take opportunities for belts - that's what you have after you retire. It makes people sit up and listen when you drop 'champion' into the conversation at job interviews, or if you're setting up a fitness-releated business. It's a smart thing to have some - but do you have to have one to be successful I wonder? 

More thoughts on this:


Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

Hi, again, Niamh! Thanks so much for thinking of me, and linking my post here. I really enjoyed your article, and I think Melissa Ray is an amazing, articulate woman. Kevin was smart to interview her.

And of course, my answer to the question "Do you need to be a world champion to be successful at your sport" is an emphatic "no". I'm guessing the book touches on my thoughts -- people take up a sport for different reasons, and I've sure gotten what I desired out of amateur boxing. And just because I never went pro doesn't mean I don't make an excellent trainer and official.

Like you said, a belt is helpful if you're trying to open your own gym, and so on, but the truth is, MOST people never win a championship title. But we still love our sport AND we still feel quite successful!

Thanks again for another thought-provoking post!

real girl sport said...

@Lisa - I totally agree! The chances of even fighting to begin with for most people in boxing/martial arts is quite low, and then to have the time to dedicate to winning a belt is something else.

To me once you're having fun, and pleased with your fights if you fight that's the important thing. Belts have a limited application as you say Lisa!