Interview of ASHLEY BECK by Serge TREFEU (2008)
SERGE TREFEU: Hello ASHLEY, you present themselves at our readers ?
ASHLEY BECK: Yes well let me take it from the start…
My name is Ashley Beck, I’m Danish of nationality but my father is from South Africa. I am 28 Years of age and I started training at the age of 15. When I started and for the first many years I was interested in Kung Fu and found a trainer from Iran who taught an Persian style called Kung Fu Toa which I was training for about 5-6 years after which I decided I wanted to learn more but Iran did not seem like the place to go to learn so I went to a Wushu school in Shandong province in China, well that didn’t work out too well so left and did Chen Tai Chi with a teacher I met through my network. That was fine and all but during my time in China I found out that it was real fighting that I was interested in so I ended up in Chiang Mai north Thailand where I did my first 4 fights under full Thai rules.
Where do you live ?
I currently live in DK’s second largest city called Aarhus, although it really isn’t very big.
Have you brothers who are boxers too ?
Yes I actually do, I have a brother called Leroy Beck who is well known to northern European fight circles. He sort of stopped fighting now but he was fighting for the WBC Muay Thai world championship twice, I have to say his an incredibly gifted fighter. We have gotten allot out of sparring and play fighting with each other always coming up with new moves and building fight strategies and we have always shared our different experiences which have lifted us both allot in strength and fight style. We have been very lucky in having each other to learn with and from in that way.
How did you discover the Thai muay ?
Well I went to Chiang Mai north Thailand in 2002 and had a something like 4 fights in a couple of months. That really opened my eyes, I did have a few amateur fights in DK before going but fighting full on pro was just my thing. I loved it immediately and got hooked on the adrenaline, plus I used to love just sitting quietly observing the Thai fighters and their movements, how they kicked pads or bags, shadow boxed etc. Both me and my brother have used this approach to learning a lot and have also been lucky to have each other to spar, play fight and build technique with. I really firmly believe and this is also backed by my experiences in Thailand that you just Have to learn from the Thais, yes Europeans can compete with them, without a doubt but if you are not willing to learn from the people themselves because your stubborn, arrogant or just plain pig headed, then how will you ever build on the style to create a truly powerful force of strong, technical, sharp and gifted European boxers that can fully match the Thais? I mean look at the Thais themselves, when Ramon Dekkers went to Thailand and consistently beat them at their own game they loved him for it and in stead of getting hurt or angry they got smart and learned. Now many of the really strong Thai boxers are strong boxers too, they have built it into their repertoire and are really capable all round fighters. They loved him for it and still do… That the spirit, check the vou do’s on youtube there’s plenty of evidence look at a fighter like Anuwat Keawsamrit hes one of the new generation although his been rajdamnoen champ for a while now, but that dude packs a really heavy punch. I could probably go on but ill leave it here…
You began boxing at which age ?
Well as mentioned I began martial arts at the age of 15 and thai boxing at 21 but if you ask me its all boxing whether you use fists only or incorporate elbows, knees or you fight MMA etc. In my mind I see it all as a form of boxing and to excel you have to think like a boxer and be a boxer. Its in the way you carry yourself in- and out side of the ring.
Can you speak to us about your first gym ?
Yeah well as an international boxer its sometimes hard to say where you started was it the first day you went to training or the first place you fought for? I am loyal to my coach here in DK which is run by Mohammad F. Tehrani and is called The Colosseum he has really opened my eyes since I was young and been instrumental in teaching me the moral values implicit in martial arts. Here again its important to stress that as boxers its the way we think and react and the things we do that sets our discipline apart from something like football or tennis. We have an unwritten code but this is not something that has ever been directly taught to us. Instead we have listened, watched and learned and then we understood. The youth of today will have to do the same they cannot expect anybody to take that responsibility for them or their actions, we all gotta learn and continue to learn so we become whole men of honour. This way and approach was also very important when I went to Thailand where I had my second first gym. A place some of you are probably familiar with called Kiatbusaba or Lanna Gym. The owner there also has a very good understanding of boxing and this rubs off on the rest of the gym and the people that stop by. A nice place with good people and good opportunities to learn something new and get proper fights. Since I had no real amateur experience I had to shut up and learn by watching and fighting. Initially I lost many fights but always on points and always to guys with no less than 50+ fights against my 0. Still after a while i understood enough to start fighting hard and for my 7th fight I did the ram muay and voila the spell was broken and I started winning, since then I haven’t lost many fights even though to this day I still fight guys with way more fight experience, but what good is that if you haven’t learnt how to fight hard, stand your ground, cut off excess movements and stay focussed? I have that to thank my two “father” gyms for.
How much do you have fights, of wins and loses ?
26 fights, 16 win something like 7 ko’s. Not too much at all, quite modest. I’m currently ranked 15 on WBC muay thai world rankings list and I’m intercontinental champion -63,5 kg
In which weight do you fight ?
I fight between 63,5 kg – 72 kg max.
Which is your gym today ?
I fight for The Coloseeum Gym in DK.
How much fight do you have in Denmark ?
In DK I’ Have only had 1/3 of my fights or less, the rest have mostly been in Thailand
In your country the muay thai is well developed ?
Unfortunately I have to give DK thumbs down, there’s a sub standard fight level among fighters and many seem to be somewhat arrogant or so full of themselves that they are going to have a hard time catching up no matter how many fights they got. There’s a need for a more professional approach so we can get rid of the bad reputation, its great that people are starting to love muay thai but its unfortunate that there’s too many egos spoiling the effort of everybody in bringing the sport out to the public. We need better cooperation between promoters, better communication and quality promotions – unfortunately there’s little interest from sponsors and therefore also tv channels.
In Denmark do there often official shows in muay Thai ?
No not on TV if that’s what you mean but there are fairly regularly fights arranged in Copenhagen, and every year there are one big show in my home town… As mentioned above quality varies greatly.
Which are the known champions of muay Thai in Denmark ?
I’m not sure if you mean Danish domestic fighters or internationally known fighters popular in DK? Personally the Danish fighters that I respect are people like Ole Laursen fighting out of legacy gym in Thailand his been active in M.T. for a long time as well as K1 Max, my brother Leroy Beck and the MMA fighter Martin Kampmann. Internationally I enjoy watching Ramon Dekkers on youtube, French boxers ive seen and enjoyed were Jean Charles Skarbowsky, Farid Villaume. I prefer watching and analysing Thai fighters such as Sakmongkhol, Anuwat Keawsamrit, Bovy Por Udomson, Orono, Jongsanan, Namkabuan, Samart Payakaroon and of course Buakaw Por Pramook i could go on…All of them hard and very skilled boxers. Watching people like this has really taught me alot.
You already fight in Thailand , how much do you have fought make engagements over there?
Well I’have been back and forth a few times always fighting so ive had most of my fights there. Mostly against rural boxers in the north or south of the country. its funny how how many of them box to earn a part time income almost as a recreational activity, some of them have been good fights others have ended early – i have never suffered a ko defeat in Thailand though, the one it did happen was in Macau against a thai 2x rajdamnern champ called Sonlam something. That was an excellent learning opportunity though. Generally speaking the boxing level in Thailand varies a great deal but if one pay attention to the rules, proper conduct in the ring and fights skilled, fierce and aggressive, its easy enough getting a winning spree going.
Against which champions Thai you did fight in Thailand ?
Im sorry I forget the names but fought a 2x rajdamnorn champ called Sonlam I dot know his last name but this was in Macau a few years back… In Thailand as many are probably aware there are champions all over the country I once fought a northern champ in a countryside festival up in the mountains… That was a good fight though they both were, I got TKO in Macau and lost the other on points. They were both when i started out fighting years ago and I have gotten sharper since then.
Was your best fight it against which ?
The above mentioned fights were definitely the ones I learnt the most from. Since starting to fight here in Europe I’ Have gotten a little disappointed with the level of M.T. I prefer good hard fights with plenty of action and I found that if you fight like this hard skilled and stand firm then you either KO or get ko’d at last you’ll win on points. I proved that to myself when i won the WBC belt…
And your harder fight ?
I fought a Russian once but I was in no good condition and had to lose two kg the day before to make weight which of course tired me a lot. By third round I was completely exhausted, but each fight provides a new angle and a new experience so it was good.
In Thailand you training in which camp ?
I prefer to stay out of BKK so I always head up north or down south I don’t have any one particular camp anymore instead i negotiate conditions directly with promoters or camp owners before starting to fight for them.
In Denmark can you live thanks to the muay thai ?
No i cant, its not worth it – I would have to spend a lot of time and effort in looking for fights or start my own gym and both takes time and focus away from the training. If it was possible and the fights were good with skilled opponents and a decent wage then i would have done it a long time ago.
Which is your work to day ?
I recently finished my education so I’Have been a student the last few years and now I looking for a job so I can save up and start my own in Thailand or South Africa.
Do you know French thai boxers, old champions or new champions of to day ?
Yes I do live heard of a few and live seen some fight at the kings cup in Thailand my immediate estimate is that Dutch and French boxers are some of the strongest in Europe, I saw Jean Charles Skarbowsky fight the kings cup a few years back and he was very sharp he had the height advantage and the Thai kept marching forward walking into to elbows and teeps, finally the ref stopped the fight cause he was bleeding so much. But I’m sure there are many skilled boxers scattered throughout Europe as well I just wish the sport had more support among the general public so the fighters can become even better…
Would like you to fight a French champion ?
If conditions are right i would love to fight one of your champions I love a good fight.
Which are your projects, have you soon fights ?
I recently had a fight and am possibly fighting again in august/September.
You want to add something ?
I would like to thank you for this opportunity you know as a boxer there is rarely any glamour or prestige involved but I do it cause I love to fight and my interests in fighting extends beyond stylistic differences, I believe we can all learn from each other no matter if its karate, kung fu, taekwondo etc. The essence of fighting lies not in the style but in the freedom of movement that comes with the style, however effectiveness must never be taken for granted and to truly understand this thing that we do and love we must test ourselves in fights and develop a strong, firm stance cut unnecessary movements from our pattern of movement, understand the proper function and use of our weapons, learn to stay focussed and always strive to maximize impact. This is what M.T. teaches us, and it is truly effective but most importantly we must not become so full of ourselves that we forget how to learn from others or why we are doing this. Fighting is first a skill not unlike masonry or carpentry etc. it is only after many years of perfecting that that skill becomes an art. This is something that many people take for granted when they should not…
Thank you to have answered this interview