Social media fighters
Do you want to be a fighter or do you want to appear to be a fighter? Another phenomenon that crosses over all fighting sports, and lifestyles for that matter. It used to be a rarity in Muay Thai but with the ever-growing popularity of the sport, I see it happening more and more. Michael "Chase" Corley dropped the term 'social media fighters' during a talk we were having one day, and I could not agree more. These people have their trainers get a fight for them, or they do it on their own, which is another subject all together, they then go above and beyond to make sure everyone knows that they are a fighter and that they have a fight coming up, that they will obviously dominate. They put the gym time in, all be it minimal, sell lots of tickets, get shirts and banners made and then, out of the blue, something magical happens. They either get 'injured', get the wrong medicals done or 'lose' paperwork. They suddenly cannot get off work (one of my personal favorites), can’t make the weight, as if it they had not known about it well in advance, or maybe they have a stomachache. Whatever the case may be they find a way not to fight, yet try to pass it off as somehow not being their fault.
Back in the day, when I was still fighting in smokers, there was a particular instance when I got to the fights, weighed in, along with my opponent, then, come fight time he was nowhere to be found. Apparently, he and his team decided this was a bad idea. I was speechless! I did not even know that was a thing people did. A separate circumstance Ryan Schmall, another fighter from our gym, was fighting on the amateur card on one of Toddy's shows at The Stardust in Vegas, which I had fought on as well. He was literally standing in the ring waiting, they announced his opponents name, played the music and nothing...we wait and wait. A minute goes by and again they announce his name...silence. "WTF is going on?" we were all thinking. I could not even speculate as to what was going through Ryan's mind. We come to find out later that his opponent and their entire team had packed up and driven home. It amazed me that they would come all that way, I believe they were from New Mexico, only to tuck tail and run come fight time. Who does that? More people than you would think actually.
Now if you want to be a coward then go for it, you clearly have no honor and it means nothing to you. The problem however is the countless other people that this negatively affects. The other fighter and their team, the promoter, all the fans. Your opponent did everything that they were supposed to. They put in the grueling hours of killing themselves in the gym, along with everything else that comes with it, they showed up to fight and are now they are left with nothing. This is even worse in the pros, which rarely happens but still does a lot more than people realize, as most of them are weeded out in the amateurs, because not only are they out of a fight but now they are also usually out a paycheck, unless the promoter is nice enough to kick them down some money. So, they did 99% of their job only to not be paid for it.
The promoter put you on their card, believed in you and now they are left stranded, more than likely with one less fight, unless they are fortunate enough to find someone to replace you at the last minute.
Listen, the fight game is not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that, but do not leave others in the wake of your cowardice. Be a 'gym fighter' or hell don't fight at all. Just get yourself a Tapout shirt, some tribal tattoos and whenever there is a fight on TV make sure and let everyone whose around know what you would be doing in there and what the ones actually in there are doing wrong.
The majority of the blame is definitely on the 'fighter' but their gym and teammates share some of the responsibility as well. You know who you have in your gym; you know who the real and the fake ones are. I'm not saying kick these people out but when you allow them to fight you are allowing them to represent your gym. The problem is that most of these people are trained by cowards and fakes just like them and the downward cycle just perpetuates itself, getting worse or worse as the years go on.
Fortunately these days, with social media and the world being a lot smaller because of it, it's a lot more difficult for these people to get away with this behavior, especially more than once, but the fact that it can happen at all is mystifying. It's like the airport security motto "If you see something say something.” Listen, things happen, people do get sick, they do get called into work, things happen and I understand this, but the ones using these excuses repeatedly to cover up their cowardice need to be exposed and weeded out of the fight game. 'The More You Know', 'Only you can prevent Forrest fires', 'Now you know, and knowing is half the battle, Go Joe!'...ok enough slogans from my childhood; just stop disrespecting the ones who are genuinely putting their heart and souls into this. Without question there needs to be more accountability. The fact that this is not already a thing baffles me. How can people continually get away with this? It has become so accepted that there is not even a shred of shame associated with it. There are zero repercussions. I for one believe we should keep a database of the repeat offenders so that there is at least a shred of accountability and knowledge for the promoters, as well as the people they are fighting so that they at least know ahead of time. Ok, I'm done.
By the way, if you think this blog is specifically about you it more than likely isn't, but feel free to apply it to yourself, as I'm sure it fits!