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Fighting Depression

In the Ring for Men's Mental Health

By Samuel MoorePublished 9 months ago 6 min read

On March 19th I was given the opportunity to fight in an exhibition match. I have practiced martial arts for a number of years and since 2020 I have focused on Muay Thai - the Art of 8 Limbs. My first sparing session in Thai boxing showed me how under-prepared I was for this world and that my more traditional and meditation-based styles were just not suitable for combat.

However, I did not start a journey in Muay Thai because I wanted to fight or even because I wanted to use it to improve my fitness, I did it for my mental health. I have struggled for years with depression and suicidal tendencies. After my first real attempt of the final solution, I knew I couldn’t do this on my own.

I looked for help online and looked to see what was in my area and I found the LADS group- Live And Discus Support group. A setup to help men with their own mental health issues.

So did I go?

Well no. I was too scared to begin with but knowing that this group operated out of a combat gym, I decided to take classes there until I felt comfortable to reach out to the owner of the gym, Wayne Morly.

There was a selection to choose from and ultimately I went with Thai Boxing.

It was not love at first strike. In fact I hated it, I was exhausted from the warm-up, my body ached for a week after and all I wanted to do was walk out. But I didn’t give myself that option. I was there for two hours. And the following Tuesday, I was there for two hours and I forced myself to keep going back.

At some point, I started to love it. I loved the training, the sparing the camaraderie that is behind the scenes as everyone will show you what they have been working on. I have used Muay Thai as part of my regular maintenance and routine ever since.

But Muay Thai was how I worked up the courage to reach out to the Men’s mental health group.

My first time there we met on Dover beach. I was with 4 men that seemed to tower over me. Men who had served, men who had demons they wrestled with and then there was me- feeling like a silly child because I was ‘sad’. I am not ashamed to admit that I broke down and cried on the beach.

After, I was shaking. I was shaking for hours after but it was one of the best things that I have done.

You can never fix a problem until you acknowledge and understand it.

Skip ahead to Summer of 2022 and we lost a man who meant a great deal to the community and a man who was part of our Muay Thai club and the LADS Group. This hit everyone hard.

Because of this, something unexpected happened.

While Wayne Morly is the owner of The Academy - the Combat gym in Dover, Kent and the co-founder of the LADS group, he also hosts around 10 charity boxing events every year. The first event is in March and in 2023, there would be a Muay Thai and K1 event.

This was announced in December in 2022- this was also when I was made a Team Leader in the LADS Group.

I had to fight.

While I have a number of injuries, putting on my gloves and getting in the ring of a total of 6 minutes was something I would do. With the new life that this sport and the support group had given me, there was no way I couldn’t do so.

While training one night - before our group meeting, I was training with a dear friend and someone I had introduced to the sport - and fellow Team Leader, he had told me that he was fighting as well and we joked about fighting each other -given that there is a massive difference in weight and height we knew it wouldn’t happen. He has remained the person I have trained with and spared the most within my run in this sport.

And then it happened - in January we were told by Wayne that he was struggling to find our opponent's, so we said those fateful words- ‘we’ll fight each other.’

Yes, a man bigger, stronger and someone I had taught some dirty tactics to was now set to stand in the ring against me.

The fight that meant something to me because of my own road with my mental health and struggles now would be shared with a man I view as a close friend.

This was perfect.

I knew he would not go easy on me and I would never want that. He is former army and I knew that switch would be hit as soon as we were in the ring. I also knew that as the smaller man, I would have to work so much harder just to be on the same level.

On the day I weighed in at 86kg and he weighed in at 116kg. I gave up every advantage for this fight and I was happy to. Before the fight we were laughing- after the fight, we were laughing and during the fight, we held nothing.

I am sad to say that a number of injuries stopped me from performing as I wanted to, but I am happy with the first 2 rounds we fought. The third round I am not so proud of. My injures were getting the better of me and my mindset changed. It went from, ‘we will put on a good show’ to ‘simply survive’.

In martial arts you will have many sparing sessions, and for the most part you will be looked after. But if you show you are tired, your opponent will push harder. I was tired by the third round and I was hurting long before I got into the ring.

It was an exhibition match- but if it had been scored, my friend Ryan would have won. Honestly he deserved the win and I am proud of him for it. He fought clean, he trained hard and it paid off.

After the match, dispite struggling to stand, I stood with a massive smile on my face. The Co-founder of the LADS Group stood by my right side, my coach stood by my left, my friend and opponent next to him and his coach next to him.

33 years for an event that lasted 9 minutes in total and a photo that means more to me than I can explain.

I fight my depression every day, and on that day, I fought my friend and we found my mental health issues. We fought for those we had lost. We fought so that other’s might not have to loose their own fight and I got to share first official moment in the ring surrounded by those I love and care for.

I may fight again, but for now I can say I raised my hands and celebrated a victory I never thought I would see.

Mandarin Duck and Ken Cao in particular were so supportive of my training and my fight. There are companies that want you to think they care and will give hollow words, but everyone at Mandarin Duck encouraged me in such a way that I will never stop being thankful for.

So from me to every at Mandarin Duck, thank you.

33 years in the making


About the Creator

Samuel Moore

Love to write and have more than a few opinions

Social media handle; Bamgibson30

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