I’m Ellis Barboza. I’m a professional fighter and coach who lives and trains in Dubai. I have been training and fighting in Muay Thai for almost 10 years. I am currently ranked UK #1 in the Bantamweight Division and ranked top 10 in the world.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
When I first ever walked into the gym I never dreamt of being a fighter. Growing up, I was quite a reserved kid. I’d sit back and observe. It was never my intention to get into the ring. I joined the gym for the same reason most kids get pushed into some kind of Martial Art, to build confidence.
It sure worked wonders. After a few months of training I was addicted. Muay Thai was all I was thinking about. I’d wake up, go to school and all I could think about was training. School would finish and I’d rush home, get changed and get straight on the bus to training. I loved it! I’d be constantly watching fights on my phone looking for stuff I wanted to work on back at the gym.
I think after around 8-9 months of training my coach said I could do an inter-club. For those that don’t know, these are light contact spars with other clubs, there is no winner or loser. I was excited but as you can imagine, a little nervous too. My coach assured me that it would be a good thing to do and that I would do well… I went ahead and did it. I think back then these were 3 x 1.5 minute rounds so I wasn’t in there for long! I came out of it buzzing with a greatest feeling of accomplishment. That is where the seed was planted. From there on it was all I was really interested in. I quit football and all other activities to free up my weekends for these events.
MY FIRST FIGHT
It wasn’t long after that that I had my first few fights. In my first fight, I fought a guy who was a lot more experienced than me, having around 10 fights on his record. This was a very hard fought fight and I nearly got stopped with low kicks! I remember my shin was battered
After round 3, the referee came over and asked my coach if i wanted to continue, he looked at me and asked me, of course I said yes. My shin and leg were battered and it was hard to block.
My coach Henry told me to go to the southpaw stance to protect it. I said “what’s southpaw?” I didn’t even know what it was! Anyway I continued into round 4 and 5, those rounds were better but I didn’t do enough to win. I have never been the toughest kid around and I was far from it as a kid but one thing is for sure. I am stubborn. I will never let someone know they hurt me. Although I lost this fight I took a lot from it. I established “heart” from day one. My start to fighting was not great. Losing my first two or three as a junior. At the time I was gutted as you can imagine. But looking back, that’s the type of stuff that makes you grow. I learnt to take defeat right off the bat!
BECOMING UK #1
This win propelled me into a bit of momentum winning my next couple fights via TKO and KO. These were my first stoppages as a Pro. I am very proud of these fights.
The TKO win was with some heavy body shots. I gave my opponent three counts in the first round and he couldn’t continue.
My KO win is the fight I am most proud of in my career so far as I feel this was my best performance, I got everything right on the build up and won this one by KO. I knocked my opponent out in the first round with a double elbow combo.
This is just the very start of my journey within the sport! I am still very young and have loads to learn and achieve. If you want to follow me along the way visit my instagram @ellisbarboza.
WHAT IS MUAY THAI ?
Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand.
Often referred to as the Art of Eight Limbs, Muay Thai is a stand up martial art that utilises punches, elbows, kicks and knees along with various clinching techniques.
Each body part serves as its own, individual weapon: fighters’ hands serve as swords, their shins as shields and armor and their elbows and knees as a hammer or axe. Thus using eight “points of contact”, as opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing.
ORIGIN OF MUAY THAI
There are many stories as to how Muay Thai actually originated but there are a few facts we do know for sure. Muay Thai can be traced back to the 18th century during the Siamese war between Burma and the neighbouring countries. Muay Thai was formerly known as “Muay”. This hand-to-hand form of combat was used as a means of protection against neighboring countries. It soon developed into a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment.
Very quickly learning this military art, Muay Thai became very much ingrained in the culture of the Siamese people. A constant threat of war saw many training camps pop up around the country. These were the first of what are now called “Muay Thai Camps” These still exist all throughout Thailand all the elite fighters compete against other camps.
Young men practiced the art form for various reasons: self-defense, exercise and discipline.
Muay Thai soon became a national sport. Many years ago, in the first few professional fights, fighters were not matched up by weight, height, experience or age like they are now. There were no time limits during fights; they continued until there was a definite winner. This is very different to the structure of Muay Thai now. These days fights are never usually any longer than five rounds, lasting three minutes each round.
MODERN MUAY THAI
Modern Muay Thai has come a long way progressing into a global sport known and taught across the entire world. To make this a more governable sport just like boxing, Thailand had to make a few adjustments to the sport.
Gloves were introduced as opposed to the rope that used to be wrapped around hands. And a metal groin guard to add extra protection! The most crucial piece of equipment for any fighter!
An integrated system of weight-classes, rules and championships were brought to life in the years ahead mirroring the structure of boxing.
See now in boxing the top level fighters are paid big money, some of them millions! In Muay Thai, fighters make very little money fighting. Many will take fights every 3-4 weeks, earning 4000-6000 baht ($100), which is barely enough to support themselves, let alone a family if they have one. However the recent come up of ONE Championship has given the World’s elite fighters a platform to fight on and be paid well! The money in the sport is still nowhere near boxing but it is a huge step forward!
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