You ever hear a word and it triggers a horrible sinking feeling in your stomach, the kind akin to needing the toilet urgently?
That particular word for me is not exactly a word as such, It's a place, and that place is Barnsley. When ever I travel with the wife for a trip to London, we usually head down the M1 motorway, we
head up the M62 towards Leeds and then onto the M1. As soon as you hit the M1 you are hit with the sign for Barnsley, and every single time it gives me the shits.
Now I feel I should explain myself a little as I'm sure Barnsley is a lovely place, in fact my Great Grandma resided there and I've been a few times in the past, and that's where my explanation begins.
July 2nd 2011, Barnsley Metrodome......The last time I would ever fight in a ring. The night was titled 'Muay Thai at the Metrodome', a big green belt was on the line. I had lost 22 pounds in around 7 weeks, and judging by my energy levels on the night, most of which was probably muscle, as I still had plenty of jiggly bits when I stepped through the ropes.
As in the past I weighed in the day before the fight at a hotel, and then proceeded to eat my bodyweight in a whole host of calorific goodies.
This fight was going to be the first of which I wasn't to be wearing shin guards. If you've ever been in this position then you know how much of a worry it is to be going bear shinned. Way before the Anderson Silva broken leg, there was a K1 kickboxing fight in which the guy throws a low kick and smashes his shin against the blocking leg of the opponent, as his leg hits, both bones in the shin snap in half and his leg kind of wobbles and when he tries to put his leg on the floor it folds in half underneath him. Now if i'd never seen this video or heard of it, I may have been slightly less concerned about not wearing the shin guards, but I had and I was concerned.
My team mate was out before me to fight, and I remember him coming back to the changing rooms with his head held low staring at the floor......he had just lost his fight.......I needed to borrow his gloves, which I now considered to be unlucky.
I've had the thai massage, I've done a warm up and I'm ready to head out to my fight in my unlucky gloves. I'm mentally prepared for a 3x2 min bout and ready to go to war when the ring announcer calls out 'scheduled for 5x2 min rounds', I look at my coach with fear and panic in my eyes and I'm pushed out onto the walk way to the ring to the song 'living in america'.
This is only the second time in my life that I have invited friends to a fight, the first time was back in 2005 and the fight was stopped due to my nose being bent half way round my head. So I'm ready to put on a show for my people. I nervously dance to the music on my way to the ring and clamber through the ropes giving my opponent a little glance.
Now I cant really tell you what happened for the next 9 minutes, needless to say, the weight I had lost was way too much in too short a time, and I felt like a limp, rubber noodle. I got way too excited to begin with after throwing my first chopping low kick and feeling nothing there was no stopping me.....well at least for the first two rounds.
I felt nothing when my opponent hit me, at least not on impact, but it was weird, he'd land a decent punch and i'd be facing another way, like I had just lost a split second of my life. I remember he made like a barking noise when he punched which I didn't do, and I remember thinking maybe I should ha ha. Anyway, we have about ten seconds left in the last round, and by all accounts I'm up and winning the fight (maybe bias from my people), and its like a scene from the end of a rocky movie, both haven't gotten much left in the tank, other than a left hook each, thrown at pretty much the same time, all I can say is his arm must be longer than mine because he caught me square on the jaw and the rest was canvas....
I remember coming round to my mate trying to get me to get up and finish the fight, with half his body poking through the ropes, maybe the 8 pints he had made him think I was ok, but most of all, the look that had the biggest impact on me, was the look on my wife's face, the look of sheer panic that she had lost me, that was enough to make me realize, what is the point of all this, the 7 weeks of misery losing too much weight, the training, the running, the selling tickets, the booking a coach and making sure everyone was going to turn up, the promoter taking all the money anyway and not paying me the 700 quid I was due from selling tickets, and for what....
A big headache, a bad memory and a bruised ego.
On that day in July I decided that was me done and I stuck my head firmly into my business.
I have the upmost respect for anyone who climbs throught the ropes as I know how hard it can be to do so. And this stuff can haunt you for a life time, like everytime I see the word BARNSLEY!!