My 2nd Angel fight and dealing with grief away from home

Before anyone reads this post I apologize for the depressing, mopey tone. I’m trying to write about my experiences the good and bad. Im not making excuses or looking for sympathy It just feels better writing it all down…..and moving forward which is what I will be doing.

2015 didn’t start off as I’d expected, even though everything was the same…….it was different. My trainer who was like a father figure to me and we had such a great bond did something stupid that betrayed my trust and I couldn’t forgive. I know that he regrets and feels terrible about it but trust is so important to me, I was devastated and didn’t train for 3 weeks (although I also had an impacted wisdom tooth at the same time) to some people it would be something they could brush off or laugh about but I was so hurt! I’m sure over time we may be friends again, I see him still keeping an eye on my training and speaking to the other trainers about stuff im doing, he’s an amazing trainer and still wants me to do well I know! but I can’t forget what was done! It was an emotional time and i was lucky to have such good friends in Abigail (the foreign liason at the gym) and my friends in Bangkok. So I had to change trainer, fighters who live and train here (and even at home) will understand how difficult that is! I know people who would follow their trainer anywhere. Its a big thing the relationship between a coach and fighter you both put so much into your training and you know they have your back.
I started training with one of the young fighters who is very talented (and in fact shouldn’t have been padding at all he should have been fighting but it was his choice at the time) at first it was grand but it was no comparison. I found the pace of the rounds faster but my technique slipped and I was getting frustrated. As I work I only train once a day and always want a tough hard pad session, I thrive as a fighter by being pushed and shouted at it motivates me (I’d be good in the army I reckon). Two weeks before my fight I decided that I needed to change trainer i wasn’t happy at all in fact i was miserable and i wasn’t feeling on form for this upcoming fight. So I asked to train with Kru San which (of course was no problem at all I should have asked earlier). San is our biggest pad man and always takes the big foreigners which was part of the reason I never asked to go with him. In my year at Sitmonchai I hit pads with San twice and both times were a disaster and only lasted a few rounds. I wasn’t used to hitting with someone so big it was quite overwhelming and draining, but I just had a feeling that he was what I needed.

San is by far the toughest trainer I have ever trained with every pad session was so hard my legs were so tired from all the kicks. I forget that he is only 21 years old! His IQ is unreal he’s such a smart trainer. One weakness I have (if you call it a weakness) is I tend to stand and bang we worked so much on my movement and footwork which I believe is a reason I was so tired as I didn’t move around so much!

A week before my fight I had a tragic death in my family my cousins 14 month daughter Bria was found dead in her bed one morning. I wish I could say this is the first tragic death in my family but it’s actually the 7th. Explaining my family is confusing but my mother’s brothers and sister in Ireland (her half siblings 5 of them) are more like my siblings than aunts and uncles, and most were close to my age. In 2005 Michael killed himself, we were the same age and in 2007 his older sister Rona killed herself. I cannot even put into words the absolute heartbreak our family went (and still go) through. I had just landed on my first family holiday with my dad and his family when I found out about Michael. I got the next available flight out to the UK and sat in an airport for 9 hours alone containing my grief for the next available flight to Dublin. When Rona died I packed up my life in the UK and moved to Ireland within a couple of days where I stayed until I came to Thailand.

Everyone deals with grief in different ways but the way I grieve is that however devastated I am there are others that are worse than me! The mother, father, brothers, sisters so I was there for them, I supported, i listened, I listened to family members tell me they wanted to die and how they would do it, I didn’t panic or cry or tell them to not say such a terrible thing I spoke sense, and I grieved on my own, and I wouldn’t change that! I love that I can be there and they can turn to me for support!

Every death or bad thing that happens I believe is a test for me, by who or what I don’t know but I believe I’m being tested.
I’m now 6000 miles away from my grieving family I’m absolutely heartbroken for them but im glad that it’s me on the other side of the world and not any of them.

Whenever a young person dies i feel like im grieving Michael and Rona all over again, the heartache comes back 3-fold and its like it happened yesterday. The day I heard about Bria I went to work then training, when I got there the Thai’s were playing a Kelly Clarkson album…. One I listened to grieving for Michael. So i was weeping already, like WTF I’ve never heard these songs played before??! I cried (discretely) through my training the next few days (in between rounds)I didn’t know if I was crying for my family, or because I was terrible in training or because I was tired! Maybe all of it! The Thai’s were asking me why I wasn’t happy but I couldn’t answer them without welling up!
Part of pursuing a dream takes sacrifice and part of that was leaving my family and friends, having a death in the family and not being able to be there for them made me want to win my fight to be happy for something to lessen the guilt that I’m here and I’m far away but I’m doing OK and making them proud…but it wasn’t to be.

The Sunday before my fight I pulled my calf muscle bad I couldn’t run or kick Sunday or Monday (and I also went on a school trip to Pattaya on Monday). We then found out Sunday evening our minivan driver Nut fell asleep at the wheel and died the night before! Too much was happening i just wanted to cry and cry! Insomnia is the bain of my life and it was troubles and grief which initially started it. I hadn’t been sleeping well and the Monday night in Pattaya I didn’t sleep at all. I. …was….. a mess Tuesday morning! I couldn’t see properly we were on a bus most of the day ….or I should say ‘party bus’ I couldn’t get a coffee I felt faint and sick. But we got back I put my sauna suit on and did a good run. I thought then that the mind was such a powerful thing.
I went through the motions I cut weight, it wasn’t a hard weight cut or anything. I went to Bangkok with Pee A and Nakano, weighed in, ate and went back to the condo. I was just so tired! I didn’t eat much but made sure I was hydrated. The day of the fight I woke and all I wanted to do was sleep, I cant explain how tired I was every inch of my body/mind was tired! Pee A was like Kelly tired/ no tired same! which was true! so I tried to snap out of it! Normally on fight day I’m excited I have that perfect ratio of nervous excitement in my stomach! But I just felt sick, the last thing I wanted to do was fight I could just roll over and go to sleep, actual sleep ha

So off we go to the venue now I’ve spoken about this before but I never feel ready for my fights until my hair Is done! when it’s done I could get in the ring no problem. So I was there waiting……waiting…..and I got interviewed by a woman making a documentary on female fighters, I don’t know what I said :-/ then into hair and makeup! Thought I had gotten away with that this time…..obviously not, so get makeup done! I’m hot, sweating and thirsty I feel like I’m going to faint! then hair…..I saw all the previous girls hair and I was like uugh! plaits all down the back of head I can’t stand my hair touching my neck in a fight so I said in Thai ‘I don’t want it’ and said I wanted just 2 plaits into a ponytail and gestured with my hands and Saifaa was getting hers done like that so I was same! ! so lots of gel etc and then I see her go to put my hair in a ponytail as in just a fucking ponytail! !!! I was like OMG are you for real I can’t have a ponytail FFS just do whatever I was so hot and impatient I wanted to just lie on the floor! Pee A was looking over waiting to wrap my hands! Took ages, they did the stupid plaits! !! People from the gym arrived and were all “yeay”……..erm yea yeay! I got changed oiled up and ready!

So the fight felt like a bit of an out of body experience (other than a sore ankle) I don’t feel like I fought. As the great Muhammed Ali said ” The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights” as a friend (and previous opponent pointed out) its a physical game to the onlooker but a mental game to the fighter! I’d lost before I crawled under the ropes on Friday! My head and heart weren’t there, I wanted them to be but they weren’t. But that’s life we never know what will be thrown at us but you gotta pick yourself up dust yourself off and move on!
Everything ….EVERYTHING my trainer taught me she would do, she did! And I did nothing instead of pushing, teeping or stepping out of the way I ate all her knees and didn’t respond! I managed to land a couple of good elbows but that was it. The ref stopped the fight I’d say seconds from the bell going in the 2nd! No 8 count I should have been counted as she was kneeing me and I didn’t fight back I think I remember thinking ah I’ll just let her knee me till the ref breaks it up! I don’t know it was just weird. I was so upset with myself after the fight, not for losing I may well have lost if I was on top form but I just wasn’t there it wasn’t me in the ring! Everyone was like no problem your head no good and she’s really good! I had a few Thai’s from other gyms come up to me saying how Fasithong was so good etc.
I stayed and watched the rest of the show Shane O’Neill from Cork was fighting in a 4man so I was in his corner cheering for him!. My ankle was in agony and I just couldn’t wait to get back to my friends house and shower and lie down! Thakoon came up to me (organizer of event) and said ‘Kelly what happened?’ I just said ooh today I was no good! He said I don’t know why your fight was stopped!? It should not have been stopped! But why you no same as last time with Peach? So I just told him I had a death in my family and my head was no good he was like ooh no problem next time! And all I could think was ‘you still want me to fight again!’

On reflection its been a tough couple of months both emotionally and physically. But these moments, incidents and changes shape us as people and define who we are. If Michael didn’t die, Rona would not have died! I wouldn’t have moved to Ireland, I wouldn’t have fallen so passionately in love with muaythai, I wouldn’t be living in Thailand right now if all those things didn’t happened. Even though I wish they didn’t they did and shaped the person who I am today! But you can’t always be strong and sometimes you need to cry, or take a rest or just listen to your heart! I know that for my next fight I will be focused and determined and I will be proud of my performance no matter the result. Friday was another obstacle testing and shaping who I am and maybe showing myself that I’m not as tough as I think …..and that’s ok.


Me and beautiful baby Bria when she was just over a month old at my cousins wedding before I came to Thailand


No smiles for the cameras



6 thoughts on “My 2nd Angel fight and dealing with grief away from home

  1. Kelly, I feel for you. Reading your post all I wanted to do is to give you a hug. I am training in Sitsongpeenong Phuket while working full time as a teacher. It’s tough. I am lucky I get to train twice a day but I know my strength is not as good as I am just so drained. I had my parents fall severely ill and had to drop everything to fly back home. It’s just hard. Drop me a Facebook message if you want someone to chat to : Nurr Shahidna and my email is

  2. Sorry for your loss Kelly. It’s definitely hard moving half way across the world. I missed my grandmother’s funeral, aunt’s funeral, babies, birthdays, Dad’s cancer tribulations, etc. I understand your pain. Sounds like it’s been a crap month or two. Hang in there ๐Ÿ™‚

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