Living as a professional fighter off of your fight purse.
Even though I still had some money saved – while living and training with professional fighter, Will “The Kill” Chope – I wanted to do an experiment and see if I could survive off of just my fight purse, for a month, like he does. First thing was I gave up my normal room at the camp and moved into one of the bamboo huts that are typically reserved only for Thai trainers. I paid Boyd, the owner of the gym, 2,500 baht for the month (which is $83US).
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That was exactly half of my winnings of 5,000 baht for the fight. Often if you’re actively fighting, and especially if you can get the gym to sponsor you, you won’t have to pay nearly as much for training – if anything at all. If you ate the cheapest Thai food possible in Phuket, you’ll still end up paying around 4,000 baht a month $135US for three meals a day and water. Johnny and Will Chope in Bangkok at an i-Extreme magazine promo While giving it a shot with Will, I felt seriously impoverished. We would go to the 30 baht Thai buffet and load up, knowing we wouldn’t have the money to eat much for the rest of the day. At the Thai restaurant we ordered fried rice everyday as it was the cheapest thing on the menu; Will liked the Kao Pad Saparod (pineapple fried rice). The only time we ever went out was to watch a movie on Wednesday night where it was ‘on special’ for 80 baht. I ended up going up to Bangkok with him to train at ‘13 Coins’ where he was preparing for a fight.
We stayed in the fighters’ budget rooms, which was basically the attic above the gym. Now, I’ve stayed in some low budget rooms in my life but this was seriously bad! We’d have to climb an old wooden ladder to get up there, and duck down because you could hardly stand in the room. I had an old mattress, with a mosquito net, for my bed and would have to pee out the window at night; it was too dangerous to climb down the ladder in the dark and walk across the gym into the restaurant to use the bathroom. As I would close my eyes to go to sleep I heard rodents scurrying around. Worst of all, even on Sundays when I’d try to sleep in, I’d be woken up to music and training at 7am. Luckily, Mr. Coke (the owner of ‘13 Coins’) was such a nice guy; he let me sleep in one of the normal hotel rooms for the remainder of that day. So the question is, is it possible to live off of the fighter’s purse in Thailand? The answer is, if you are completely sponsored by the gym (including room and training), then yes you can scrape by – especially if you fight twice a month. Would it be a nice comfortable life? Nope.
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