I've been a member of the G-Camp Muay Thai school for almost 8 years, I've had 13 ring fights, helped out at many of the inter-clubs and made many good friends along the way. I realised quite a while ago that I had reached a plateau and wasn't getting any better, I actually felt over the last year I had gotten worse. I put that down to most of my actual fight training ending when Horace stopped teaching the fight class on Tuesdays. A couple of good friends did come down on Saturdays to help people including myself which was great but once a week isn't really enough and they couldn't make it all the time. That meant we were left with watching pad-work combos before Mike would disappear out of the room to play with his phone, it's extremely rare that he comes over and gives you direct guidance such as good footwork or fighting stance, he prefers to shout "throw more jabs, do more low kicks, stand your ground", as he's leaving the room to make another call. There are people that go to a few of the classes and think otherwise and wave the flag of allegiance which I also once carried but after visiting some other gyms it was quickly obvious how wrong I had been. I've always accepted that I am part of the problem, I could be watching lots more fight training videos online or going to other gyms as well but then what am I paying an expert for? I can do keep-fit at home with the Insanity Workout videos.
Don't get me wrong, Mike, Abs and Horace are all ultra fighters that could destroy anybody, it just doesn't get filtered through to the fight students since Abs is stuck teaching the kids and Horace has his own things on. Some of my favorite Thursdays & Saturdays have been when Abs is doing the combos as he teaches ones that are actually relevant in a fight. Horace was teaching some of the fighters at the Monday class but that's always been one night I've been unable to go. At my peak I was doing 2 classes on Tuesdays and then single classes on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I stopped going to the 1st class on Tuesday when Horace stopped teaching as it became another pad-work class and I stopped going on Wednesdays since that is generally a room of mixed-ability people fighting each other unsupervised, the final straw there being when I had my toe broken by an illegal sweep and Mike told me to carry on with a toe sticking into the air unnaturally. My trainer wearing opponent put one foot over my left and then swept my other leg so my body went one way and my toes didn't follow. Queue 2 super expensive taxi rides to and from Wythenshawe hospital
So let's rewind about a month to the end of one of the classes. Me and a friend were doing press-ups during the cooldown session and one of the fighter kids ran up and landed himself between us, slapping his hand on top of mine with a big grin, we all horse around so no biggie and I childishly figured I'd mess around as well so as he went down for his press-up I yanked his arm and he face-planted. Yeah I know, epic fail in the judgement department. Just to be clear, he was already down, like an inch from the ground but he still hit harder than I thought he would. He stood up, proclaimed I was a dickhead and ran off crying to his mom and dad. I went straight over to apologise to all of them which I did several times. It was an awkward moment and his dad got pissed at me, which was bang on rightly what he should of done. He didn't threaten me or anything, he just said a few heated things like "you're as funny as cancer". I should of just apologised and gone back to the cooldown but I hung around a bit too long as I wanted to make sure he was actually ok. I wasn't laughing but I did have a bit of a smile as it was a well awkward moment and I didn't know what to say besides sorry. I caught them outside afterwards and apologised again and his mom just laughed it off saying it wasn't that big a deal and he'd be fine after having some ice-cream or something. I still felt really bad about it and was frustrated at my lack of judgement so I decided to have some time off to clear my head and focus on work.
I'm a big fan of "If you don't like something then change it" so decided to follow my own advice. The time off was good and I decided it was way past time I made a few changes to my life. I found a new gym with an incredible trainer, my plan was to do most of my training there but still go to the odd G-Camp class when I could to see my old friends. After a week at the new place I decided to fully commit there instead and decided that I should tell Mike. I prefer to do things face-to-face so I took the first opportunity to do that. All my other fight friends have left except one and the ones that have generally don't tell Mike why. On more than one occasion he has shown frustration that the adult fighters keep leaving and that he doesn't understand why. I thought that as a friend I should tell him why myself and the others had decided to go so that he could then work to improve those things. I thought he might get a bit angry as even constructive criticism can sting but I didn't expect him to give me a lengthy rant on the phone afterwards where he denied there were any problems and put the whole thing on me. I had already told him twice at this point that I knew I was part of the problem but that was something I was working on. I had hoped that once he calmed down we could remain friends but the things he said in that phone call and the way he has behaved since then have shown me that he is somebody I would rather have nothing to do with. I made a facebook post to let my close friends know what had happened. I have 54 friends there and keep it tight to the people I consider close, all the posts there are set to Friends only.
Mikes response to this was to ring several of my fight friends telling them that I said they are the ones that said he wasn't a good fight teacher. I made a point of not saying any names when I spoke to him both times as I didn't want to get him angry at anybody else. I did slip up once when I said a friends name that Mike kinda shamed at an after-fight party. Everybody is sat around being a bit melancholy and Mike went something like "What went wrong, I teach you all and it just doesn't seem to sink in, don't know why I bother", it's not the first time he's said things like that when his fighters haven't done well. Coaches are supposed to say things to encourage their students, not make out that he is great and they are stupid. He's come flat out and said that he's given up on adults as the children are the only ones that show any promise. My point to him was that he shouldn't say things like that in front of his adult fighters and then be surprised when they lose the will to fight anymore. So after some of my friends rang me to say "do you know what Mike ringing people up and saying about you?" I start getting several calls on both my mobile and landline from Mike. It was pretty clear he was only ringing up to rant some more so I ignored the calls and was happy to just leave things. Unfortunately Mike had other plans, I get this message from Mike on my phone "I think your nasty plan backfired my friend as you can see on Facebook?!!!!!!!". So rolling my eyes I head to facebook to find he's made a post with out of context references and mis-quotes. He made it public so not only his 750+ "friends" can see it but also all the other gym coaches.
So there's Mike going for his ego boost, quite happy with comments from people that don't even go to his classes. I quite like this one as did Mike:
It's because of comments like that I decided to write all this, I'm hoping that the people threatening me might see both sides of the story before they do anything rash. I also changed my post to be "Friends of Friends" so the facebook crowd could see my side of it. First, I'd like to point out that Mike actually doesn't mention what I said or why he's angry at me, instead he makes it out to be about the children and how I somehow insulted Abs and Horace. Like I said earlier, I've been there for around 8 years and I admit that I had a slip in judgement a while ago but it was an isolated incident that had no long lasting effects. According to Mike I'm the "bad apple" for trying to tell somebody I thought was a friend why myself as well as many of the others had chosen to leave. I'll clear up the other points Mike raised. He implies I said bad things about Abs and Horace, I totally did not and I still have huge respect for both of them. Abs is somebody I've always been able to talk to and he's given me an endless amount of great advice and encouragement over the years, he's also a badass fight instructor which everybody can see from the skill the child fighters demonstrate. I've had my ups and downs with Horace over the years but I've always thought of him as an ultra skilled fighter and I was pretty sure we'd both moved past our problems a very long time ago.
The thing about cussing his son out was a mis-quote, what I actually said was "are you a fucking idiot?" which yeah, it sounds harsh but let me put it in context. For most of the interclubs over the last few years I have performed several tasks. I get there early and setup the chairs, tables and changing rooms. Then I clean the ring and start weighing in all the fighters and direct them to their camps warm-up areas. Then once fight time starts I usually do 2/3 of either the bell, music and/or stopwatch. I used to do this with Trevor, one of Mikes relatives but he has been doing photography for the last few inter-clubs so I either get one of the kids to help or a friend. On this particular occasion Mike had told his son he could do the bell. This then led to 4-5 hours of him sitting on the ropes during fights, climbing in the ring while the fights are on and dancing to the audience and ringing the bell mid fight as again, he's dancing for the crowd. I had lots of angry coaches telling me to control him, plus Twinny and his brother (the referees) telling me to get him off the ropes and out of the ring. I also had some angry parents come over and ask me who his parents were as their son had turned around when he heard the bell ring mid round, thinking the fight was over. His opponent was facing my corner and saw it was a mistake but he took advantage of it and landed a huge right punch on the guy. It was one of those hits where everybody winces. This was going on all day, I told Mike when he came into the ring to announce the next fight early on in the day and he told his son to stay out of the ring and that I should get him if he does it again. That very next fight yet again he's sitting on the ropes swinging the bell mid-fight. Because the rounds are 1 1/2 minutes each there isn't enough time for me to leave what I'm doing and run around trying to find Mike, I did send some of the kids on a few occasions but they couldn't find him, I just figured he was outside playing on his phone again. I told him later on when he came to the ring again and so he told his son to stay out of the ring again. Yet again, he got in there, this time he was fully stood in the ring dancing whilst facing the crowd. I angrily asked him more than once to get out and had the ref pointing at him and mouthing for me to handle it. I saw the fighters moving towards that corner so I did the only thing I could, I grabbed him and pulled him out to which he screams "do you know who my dad is?!". That's the point I asked him "are you fucking idiot?!". I had pulled him off the ropes and out of the ring several times over the last few hours and had reached a limit. The other coaches and referees were acting like it was my fault/responsibility. The fact of the matter is if I had not kept pulling him out then he would of been seriously injured by the adult fighters several times over. I shouldn't of lost my temper with him but seriously, who wouldn't of after 4-5 hours of the same behavior. The last hour went pretty smoothly as I think he had tired himself out, we seemed to be getting along ok and he didn't seem to care about what I said at all. The fact of the matter is, when Mike rang me the next day he said it was Trevor that had told him what I said and then he had to go and ask his son if it was true. The way Mike wrote it sounds like I've just cussed some kid out for nothing and that he ran crying to his dad.
Mike seems to be under the impression that I'm wrong about the adult fighters all leaving but the proof is the fact they have all left and if he's happy to ignore the reasons and put the blame on them then fine. So yeah Mike, I honestly do hope you all keep getting stronger every day, that was why I thought I should tell you the truth when I first spoke to you face to face, as a friend