Whenever I tell people that I have been living in Thailand for the past 5 years, the usual response is shock, followed by a lot of curiosity. How can someone live in a country like Thailand…. and for so long? I usually don’t bother explaining that I moved to Thailand because of Muay Thai unless I am prepared to explain my whole life story.
Most of my friends back home are so focused on money, they can’t comprehend why someone would make a choice to pursue their passion for Muay Thai. For most people, there are simply too many risks involved for them to pack up their bags and move to Thailand.
The truth is that Thailand is not for everyone. I know a lot of people who move down to Thailand thinking it is going to be this dream come true, only to be hit with the harsh reality of the world of Muay Thai.
Every person you meet often has their own story about what made them pack their bags and pursue a life in Thailand. For many Muay Thai fighters, the Muay Thai is only one reason they moved to Thailand. A lot of people are looking for a change from their normal life and are looking to experience something new.
In the following interview I talk to a Muay Thai couple from Australia named Eddie and Brooke Farrell. Eddie and Brooke ended up selling all of their stuff in Australia so they could pursue their dreams of training and fighting in Thailand full time.
Interview with the Fighting Farrell
Before we get started, why don’t you guys introduce yourselves and talk about some of your background for people who don’t know your story yet. How did you meet and what made you fall in love with Muay Thai?
Hey guys! Our names are Eddie and Brooke and we are originally from the Gold Coast, Australia! We met in 2008 partying in Surfers Paradise ha! Back then we were stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle, getting involved with some of the wrong crowds and influences.
After a bit of a wake up call we decided it was time to venture out! We left in 2009 with $500 and a suitcase, we travelled around Aus finding work in a bunch of different places. We spent most of our time in Darwin, the top of Australia! This is where we were introduced to a lot of great people who helped put us on a positive path and introduced us to the gym and fitness lifestyle!
Eddie began at Mick Sieberts kickboxing gym “Performance Gym” where he learnt to love the sport. He had done boxing with his dad (past boxer, judge and referee) in the past but Muay Thai was something else! Brooke did bits and pieces just for fitness, but didn’t start until we opened our own fitness and personal training gym years later in 2014.
How did you guys end up deciding that you would move to Thailand? How long have you been in Thailand and how long do you plan on staying?
We came on our first training camp to Thailand, with a few of our gym members. We had met a few of the gyms fighters who had been living here for a few months or long term and we knew that would be something we had to do! After a few months of being back in Australia, working long hours as personal trainers, hardly having any time to train ourselves and worked through other gyms class times, we gave it some serious thought as to whether we could make it work over there.
At this stage, Eddie had just won his 3rd muay thai fight and Brooke had started taking Muay Thai seriously after the thailand training camp. Thinking it would be too hard as we had a lot of attachments back home, it was more or less a dream, as this was all happening, we had a guy approach us out of the blue. He had been following us for a while. He offered to buy our business, car, gym equipment and even our phone contract, he was eager to take over and we were eager to finally get going to Thailand! One month later and we were on a plane, moving ourselves and our dog to Thailand!
Most people want to train in Thailand, but finances are often the biggest reason they decide not to. How did you guys manage to save up for your trip to Thailand? Any advice you can offer to people who are looking to make the move?
After selling everything we owned, we had enough money to last us a few months on a budget! We had already lined up a deal with a Muay Thai gym, giving us food and training, and in return we helped coach classes and mop the floors.
For anyone looking to move over here to train without having the “pressures to fight”, we advise people to contact gyms they are interested in to see if they offer long term local rates. But for fighters looking to make the move and do it properly, seek sponsorships, these vary ALOT between gyms. It is always a good idea to contact and see if they offer sponsorships and on what terms! Most fighters get sponsored after spending a few weeks at a camp, having a fight, it’s a good way to get the feel for a place before locking yourself into somewhere you may not want to be.. Or sponsorship conditions that are not fair..
For someone who is looking to live in Thailand and for as long as possible, can you give us a realistic breakdown of what the monthly costs of training in Thailand would look like. Assuming that person doesn’t get a sponsorship at a gym and has to pay their training fees, accommodation, food, visas, entertainment etc. how much Thai baht does it cost to train in Thailand?
Training in Thailand can vary, and is more expensive than western countries, but totally worth it to be able to have one on one time and be alongside some of the worlds best, most experienced thai trainers and fighters. Many of the thai trainers have had hundreds of fights and are usually all champions of some of the biggest shows in Muay Thai.
Prices is another thing that varies among gyms, we are at WMC Lamai Muay Thai in Koh Samui, prices here vary from 4500 baht to 7000 baht a month depending on whether you want to train once or twice a day. Most gyms also offer onsite accom and even strength/crossfit packages.
We recommend not booking accommodation online if you are here for one month or more. Drive through local areas, there are some great houses/villas/units for rent. You can expect to pay between 5000 baht and 15000 baht a month!
Food depends on where you eat, tourist restaurants charge anywhere from 70 baht to 400 baht per meal. There are of course cheaper options if you are looking at saving your money. We eat at local thai markets and restaurants for 20 to 50 baht per meal.
There are few different visa options, for a normal tourist visa it will cost around 2000 baht to renew, if you apply back home from most western countries you can organise to have a 3 to 6 month visa on arrival. There are also yearly education and “muay thai visas” (only at some gyms) which you can organise over here.
For entertainment we allow for one massage a week (150 to 300 baht), cinema movie (100-180 baht), snorkelling and beach time (free) and a nice meal out (300 baht). There are so many more things you could do on holiday here, tours, zip lining, bungee jumping, boat tours, fishing, cooking lessons etc…
When it comes to moving to Thailand and pursuing a fighting career, there are a lot of things you have to get used to. From the gruelling training schedule, the culture shock, visas, food, missing family and everything in between. What have been some of the hardest challenges that you guys have faced since moving to Thailand? Have you suffered any significant injuries?
The fighters life is definitely not for everyone! We see a lot of people try to pursue this lifestyle but cannot handle it and end up heading back home a lot sooner than they planned. Fighting can be very stressful, that’s why it’s so important to find a good gym, through trial and error.
Some missed luxuries we have dealt with so far include having a non flushing toilet, no hot water (currently), regular power outages, having our scooter stolen, fighting while sick with the flu, fighting through injuries, but also not being able to fight for money because of serious injuries, ending up in hospital from over training (dehydration/migraines), food poisoning (but we have been able to build up to thai stomach standards now haha Brooke ate raw chicken by accident the other day and managed not to get sick!), not being able to keep up with friends on holidays (because of cost and training schedules).
We have seen a lot of bad injuries from scooter accidents, but most happen with alcohol involved. Weve been lucky on the roads here and havent had any injuries. Just recently Brooke suffered a back injury and had to take some time off to heal, aside from that we have only had the normal banged up shins, corked legs and a few cuts from elbows. Our team mate just recently fought and came out with two broken arms :O!
When I cornered my girlfriend in the ring, I found I was far more nervous watching her fight, then when I fought myself. How do you both deal with the stress of watching your significant other competing in the ring?
Hahah, we were just discussing this last Sunday just after Brooke fought.. We have agreed that i am no longer allowed to corner Brooke anymore as i am waaaay to “over enthusiastic”. Brookes first fight over here I tried to give her a sip of water but i was shaking so much it spilled everywhere!
So from now on I will leave it up to our trainers to corner her, they are more relaxed and experienced. We still shadow spar each other out the back before every fight to get us in the zone! It can be pretty stressful but because we train so hard together we always have confidence in each other!
I have known some Muay Thai couples who are a little bit competitive among themselves. While the couples will never admit it to anyone else, I can always tell that there is some level of competition between them. Do you think it is good to have a bit of rivalry between yourselves to help you push harder or do you guys stay away from that stuff?
To be honest we have no competition between each other, we come across a lot of obstacles at training whatever it may be, (cutting weight, ego’s coming and going through the gym, sexism, Muay Thai lows.. ect) but we just support each other through that and push each other to get up and grind each day. If one of us is feeling low the other will try to motivate, its good to have each other because there are many days that aren’t easy.
When it comes to fighting styles there is often a huge difference between Western and Thai opponents. Most of the time foreigners get a weight/strength advantage against Thais, but have less experience. Do you guys prefer fighting Thai or foreign fighters in Thailand? And why?
This is a really tricky question, I think it really depends on who you are fighting. Each fight is different, western or thai! Thais are very technical but now a lot of high level westerners are adapting to the thai style of fighting too. We have been on the other end of the weight/strength advantage too so I think it just depends. We definitely like the challenge of fighting the Thais, being able to match their kicks and elbows makes for a good exciting fight.
What are your goals for the next few years? What can we expect to see from the Farrells in the near future?
We don’t plan on moving from Thailand anytime soon! Quarantine laws in Aus are really strict to get our pooch back into the country, so lots and lots more fights for the both of us! We are surrounded by the world’s best so it’s only up from here! We would love to keep fighting on some of the best televised shows in Thailand, have a few fights internationally including going back home for some too and Eddie also wants to give K1 a go this year!
If someone is looking to move to Thailand to pursue their dreams of Muay Thai, what is the best piece of advice you would give them?
Prepare your mind, because although we live in a holiday destination, a fighter’s life is not always smooth sailing. Definately come trial it out first, do a training camp on a tight budget for a month, it could set you up in the right direction or maybe you might find it’s not for you.
Thanks of the interview guys. I wish you luck in the future and hope you continue to experience success in your Muay Thai journey.
You can learn more about the Farrells on their Facebook page “The Fighting Farrells”