Bpaet messaged me on Facebook today asking if he could run early today and then go fishing. Seeing how he doesn't have any fights coming up, I told him it was ok.
This isn't necessarily typical for gyms in Thailand who often require their fighters to train year round. Gym owners are always very concerned that time off, even a short amount, can cause their fighters to get mixed up in all sorts of trouble and subsequently lose focus. But the thing is, we aren't like other gyms.
A few hours later, Bpaet returned triumphantly. He had made 100 Baht (3 USD) selling fish! But before he went out to sell it, he gave most of it to his beloved Auntie Dee. With the fish Bpaet caught she was able to make enough soup to feed not only her family but the gym as well.
It's fairly common to see fighters go a bit crazy when allowed time off or when they end up quitting the sport. Many fall prey to drugs and alcohol, managing to only just get by. Rarely are they able to save money, or make an impact financially despite having fought professionally for the better half of their lives.
Boom and I receive a lot of flak in Thailand about how we run the gym, people feel we are too easy on our fighters. But at the end of the day, while we would love to have a champion, we are more concerned with raising self-sufficient adults. Fighting only lasts for so long, we want our kids to know how to make money, and how to spend it responsibly. Skills like these take practice. Bpaet has learned when to take time off, and to make the most of it. He comes back to the gym of his own accord whether or not he has a fight coming up.
Bpaet is our little superstar, he's earned his place at the gym and sets a wonderful example for the other kids too.