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!
The findings of the research conducted on the Brain over the last 25 years has been one of the most exciting frontiers that we as a human race have discovered. The Brain is the control centre of our body and for most of our existence, we have believed it is a tool that we have very little control over. Elaine Corcoran is one of the worlds leading experts in the studies of brain behaviour and she sits down with Whitney Tuna for episode 9 of A Champion’s Mind to explain just how much you can tweak your brain to work to your advantage.
Elaine came to Australia in 2011 and she is the clinical director and founder of Brain Training Australia. She was inspired to devote her life to studying the brain after a skiing accident in her mid 20’s which resulted in a fractured skull. After the accident, Elaine was experiencing aggressive seizures everyday. She was advised it was highly unlikely that she would be able to have children or be without a carer 24 hours a day and she would need to remain on medication for the rest of her days. Luckily, Elaine was highly motivated to change her fate and she found a neurologist who was able to change her brain through neurofeedback brain training. She is currently medication free and has been for many years and she is also a mother to a young boy. Elaine is incredibly driven to share her findings and help everyone in understanding the brain and how to train it to be big your big asset no matter what lies in front of you.
Perhaps the most fascinating point of Elaine’s discussion with Whitney is when she addresses the impact that chemical release in your brain has on your physical state. Diving deeper, she advises that whilst the chemical are most definitely being released, the brain is not intelligent enough to define whether you are exercising or being chased by a wild animal. As the groundbreaking discussion continues, Elaine describes how self-esteem far outweighs confidence. Simply because one is real and cannot be avoided whereas the other is not and can be imitated. This leads her to explain just how powerful a deep-rooted belief can be and what it can help you achieve.
The episode of A Champion’s Mind with Elaine is interesting enough simply for her story. But as she explains how the brain operates, the ways in which you can change it and the methods of how you can train it, the information is unbelievably powerful. Make sure you save this episode as you will want to return to it and try some of her techniques in the future and they are techniques you will not want to forget. Subscribe to the podcast, there are many more guests like Elaine to come. Give her methods a try and let us know how they work for you!
Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu has trained in Thailand and competed over 250 times. When she began training and learning the art of Muay Thai, she admits that she never had any intent to compete. Since beginning training with the legendary Master K in his basement in her hometown of New Jersey, Sylvie has documented every step she has taken in Muay Thai through her own website, 8 Limbs. 12 years and 250 fights later, Sylvie’s journey is an absolutely fascinating one and her goals are big enough to scare anyone. She sits down with Whitney Tuna for episode 8 of A Champion’s Mind.
Training with Master K was an incredible starting point for Sylvie. But in 2010, he suffered a serious health scare and Sylvie decided to honour what he had already shown her and inspired her with by pursuing a career of competing in Muay Thai in the motherland of Thailand. The decision to move to Thailand was heavily influenced by a previous visit to test the waters and Sylvie says once she experienced the training, the food and the people, she knew that she had to live there. It was around that time that she started to document her journey through her website which was funded generously by people who believed in the same path and wanted to follow her on the journey.
The move to Thailand was planned to last for 6 months but so far it has continued on for 8 years with Sylvie still residing there today. After amassing an incredible 80 bouts in her first two years of living and training out of Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, Sylvie and her husband decided to pack up and head to Pattaya and train at Petchrungruang. A move Sylvie says had a massively positive impact on her Muay Thai career. Whilst her career blossomed, so did her ability to document it. Sylvie was presented with the Awakening Journalist of the Year and the Awakening Fighter of the Year awards. Documenting her training sessions with the legends of Muay Thai in Thailand as well as sharing who they are as people has given Sylvie worldwide notoriety.
Sylvie currently holds the record for the most amount of bouts in Thailand by a westerner. With 250 in the bank already, its impressive to hear she aims to surpass Len Wickwar’s record of 471 bouts before she retires which confirms she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. So much so, she has a trajectory of fights planned out for the public to see on her website which sees her surpass the record in September of 2028. Sylvie has an incredible journey that she shares with Whitney on the podcast and her idea of what it takes to be a true champion is incredibly inspiring and very well thought out.
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!