When the opportunity arose for Craig to fight Saenchai P.K. Saenchai Muay Thai Gym at ‘Thai Fight World Battle Vietnam 2014′, Craig Dickson grasped it with both hands. Obviously he realised this would be a very significant challenge and that the odds were very much stacked against him. However, he was intelligent enough to realise that the experience alone would lead to personal growth beyond imagination.
For Craig the period of preparation was relatively short for a fight at this level. Confirmation of the Saenchai fight came approximately three weeks before the fight. Two weeks prior to this, Craig had another challenging fight with the Malaysian Champion, Bow Suweilek. That fight took place in Kedah and it was with some panache that Craig won the fight by KO in the third round, despite being considered the outsider by the extremely partisan Malaysian crowd.
Such an opportunity for a gym’s fighter involves every person in the team in preparing for the fight. Of course at the centre of it all is Craig, who as much as anything had a huge amount of mental preparation to do. Although Craig’s recent run of wins has been impressive against some very credible opponents, Saenchai was a huge step up for him.
In the run up to the fight Craig was, of course, the focus. The team at the gym did everything possible to assist. He had the support of the other sponsored fighters who were ready to push him to his absolute limits in the weeks leading up to the fight. Every single trainer at the gym worked with Craig to impart what knowledge they could to help in this legendary battle. There was all the marketing effort, which is something we as a gym place high priority on. There was also all of the organisation required in co-ordinating getting the team to Vietnam and making arrangements for the entry visas.
Craig as the fighter, and Oron as his trainer, were able to travel to Vietnam courtesy of the Thai Fight promoters. As getting so many people to Vietnam was quite a big logistical and expensive effort, Craig and Oron had to travel overnight. The rest of the team including myself, Riah as the Operations Manager, and Mike as the Marketing Director allowed ourselves the luxury of travelling during more sociable hours.
It was a relatively easy trip getting from Phuket to Ho Chi Minh City (once known as Saigon). We went via Air Asia and although we had to change flights in Bangkok, the journey was trouble free and both flights were punctual. Getting in to Vietnam involves preparation as a visa is required and this has to be pre-arranged before travel. If this is not done, then Air Asia will not allow you to board the flight.
The hotel that Thai Fight provided (Cosmopolitan Hotel) was clean, comfortable and the staff were extremely helpful. It was centrally located very near to District 1, great for sightseeing, shopping and . Overall throughout the trip Thai Fight looked after us very well. Food was provided for the whole weekend as well as transport. There was a welcoming party at the airport for the fighters and motorcade to move the fight teams quickly through the congested city traffic.
In general, the experience for everyone in Ho Chi Minh City was a very positive one. Surprisingly, English is widely spoken. It’s a clean city with lots of parks and many interesting things to see. The food was excellent and varied with an obvious French colonial influence. The Vietnamese were excellent hosts for the Thai Fight event. The venue, a sports stadium, was large, indoors and air conditioned. Impressive to say the least.
Everybody who participated in the event gained enormously. Oron got to socialize with lots of his old contemporaries and network widely, Mike had excellent opportunities for exercising his photographic skills both with the local sights and the many Muay Thai superstars at the event. Riah and I had the chance to experience a beautiful city and all it has to offer. The event itself was magnificent. There is always an air of excitement with so many superstars around.
Of course the person who gained most was Craig himself. He lost the fight but he was given an opportunity very few Farang fighters will ever get. The mental preparation beforehand in itself will have matured Craig as a fighter. We congratulate him in getting as far as he has in a relatively short period of time. Already he has given us many opportunities to broaden our experience of the world and of Muay Thai. It has been an exciting time and we all anxiously await our next journey. Sumalee Boxing Gym is proud to sponsor one of Scotland’s finest nak muay.
By Dr Lynne Miller
Check out all the photos from the event on our Facebook Page and Instagram profile.