Frances Watthanaya is a modern day saint. Realising her mission and her body of work with the at-risk youth of Isaan in North-East Thailand confirms there is no other way to describe her that could possibly be more fitting. She packed up her bags, left home and headed to Thailand to pursue a career in fighting at the tender age of just 19. Since finishing her degree and relocating from Canada to Thailand to take up the sponsorship offer provided to her by a prominent gym in Northern Thailand, Frances has found a husband who she has a daughter with and built her own gym to aid and support the kids of Isaan. She sits down with Whitney Tuna to share her inspiring journey on episode 10 of A Champion’s Mind.
Isaan is the largest area of Thailand and makes up a third of the countries population of 67 million. Covering an area of around 160,000kms, Isaan is also considered to be Thailand’s poorest region which provides very little opportunity for the children of the area. This often leads to drug and alcohol abuse for the kids and after visiting the area, Frances knew a change was needed. Frances and her husband, Boom, built their own not-for-profit gym in Isaan called Wor. Watthana Muay Thai Gym to give the youth a focus and a way to begin to change and improve their lives. They began to train the kids every day and offer to work as promoters for them whilst building a structure for them to save money and help build the community around them. Frances is so passionate about building the community that she also teaches in school and is the parent/guardian for each child she trains in Wor. Watthana. The work Frances does takes up every day of the week for her and amazingly she does all of this whilst still managing to train and compete herself.
Frances talks to Whitney about the quality of life and the overall experience of living in Isaan and it’s not for the feint hearted. She continues to describe the many battles she has had with herself over the years of living there and developing the ways in which she tries to improve the quality of life for the community. There have been many times she has questioned whether what she is doing is working, but the stories she shares that have confirmed the positive adjustments are unbelievably powerful. From getting fighters on shows that are shown all over the world to stopping young kids from fighting every day in school and focussing on improving their grades, Frances has had a huge impact on the kids of Isaan.
Frances is an incredibly hard working and caring individual and the best possible mentor for the youth she supports. Her journey in life so far is full of fascinatingly strong-willed decisions which have seen her follow a tough path and come out the other end shining. Perhaps the most incredible part of what she does in the region of Isaan is how focussed she is on ensuring that the benefits of the work she does stay in the community. Her largest focus is that the kids who learn the sharpest way to create some success do not use the powerful tools they have acquired to leave and never come back. Frances and her husband put all of their efforts in to seeing Isaan improve as a destination and hopefully the community can work it’s way out of extreme poverty and provide everyone with better living circumstances in the near future.
The 27th of June saw both the Myaree and Highgate advanced Boxing and Muay Thai teams come together for an action packed day of sparring. With announcements of the return of fight shows here in Perth, the competitors of both clubs trained together with an epic 80 participants all putting each other to the test in the Myaree facility which hosted the 16 rings for the teams to showcase their skills. Although it was a cold and wet day, the venue was heating up straight away as the 80 competitors started sparring at 10am. The sparring was set to 60 second rounds with teams of 5-7 at each station. With one person staying in the middle through the change of sparring partners. The constant rotation was putting everyone’s conditioning to the test as the fresh partner entered the ring and picked up the pace.
An incredible spectrum of skill was on display throughout the day with some of the fresh additions to the team getting the chance to step in and learn from veterans with as many as 300 competitive bouts. The next generation were in attendance to get a glimpse of the action and take some training inspiration from the more elite athletes amongst the two clubs who were putting on a show. After a full 90 minutes of non-stop sparring, everyone involved came together for a group photo followed by a hearty breakfast whilst recapping the event and the highlight match-ups. With 14 championships amassed through the Highgate team already, the Myaree team are looking to have a debutant before the end of the year and the sparring event helped to set some clear goals for who that debutant might be.
As always, the community was ripe for the event with over 50 members outside of the fight teams coming down to watch. With the sparring finishing up around 11:30, the entire crew stuck around for some breakfast and the chance to share some inspiration with each other for those that are looking to work their way in to the team or for those that are looking at locking in a fight date. Whether its sparring, competing or changing and building your body composition, the Champions Gym community is the place to be.
Check out the photos from the day here ➡️ https://bit.ly/2VTs5g7
All photos were taken by the incredible Joshua Hew photography!
Coach Adam Hope has studied the Sweet Science for most of his life. Taking up Boxing at the tender age of 12, Adam has investigated the many different styles and shares his knowledge on 3 examples. Covering everything from the characteristics of the style in focus, to the positive and negatives of putting it in motion, Adam also provides the perfect Boxer to study for whichever styles tickles your fancy.
The first style Adam discusses is Olympic Boxing. Given there are typically two roads a boxer can take in their career, olympic/amateur or professional, The olympic style is covered first as it often leads to a stint on the professional for many boxer’s. The olympic style of boxing is largely based around outscoring your opponent. Being able to successfully hit your opponent without getting hit in return is imperative in olympic boxing as it showcases your skills. A very valuable point to discuss for the reason that olympic boxing is approached this way is also due to the fact that the boxer will need to get through many bouts in order to achieve the sought after prize. Therefore, taking less damage in each of the bouts is of the highest importance for the competitor.
Typically, a professional boxer will have produced a successful amateur boxing career prior to moving into the realms of professional boxing. Often, it is only when the amateur boxer has achieved all that the amateur has to offer, that the career of professional boxing is considered. A professional bout will usually offer a large monetary prize for the victor. With a position of massive financial gain on the line, professional boxing encourages the far more risky style of competitor. The pressure fighter who attempts to overwhelm their opponent in a manner that makes the ring feel like the smallest place in the world, and the counter fighter who encourages their opponent to risk it all with a planned method to capitalise already in motion.
As well as addressing the benefits and the pitfalls, Adam also provides some notable competitors to study for each style discussed. If you are somewhat of a boxing fan, they are likely to be names that you will be familiar with. Its interesting to dive deeper in to the style of the fighter and exactly what it is that makes them successful. Adam’s knowledge of boxing styles is incredible to listen to and is bound to give a clear reason for the hype around the sport boxing and why it is called the sweet science!