Since his retirement in 2013, straight-talking Muay Thai legend Andy Thrasher has been dreaming of reentering the fray. Revgear Sports’ Tom Billinge caught up with him at his cosy gym, The Dog Pit, in Bury to find out more about the man.
How did you get started in Muay Thai?
“I started quite late really. I had boxed as a kid, but then I really got into playing football. When I was about 21, I broke my collar bone and had to stop playing for a while. One of my mates got me to come along to his gym, GFC in Bury, to do some push ups and and sit ups and get some strength back. I saw all the guys there sparring at the end of the session and found out that knees and elbows were all legal and wanted a go. Me and my mate used to go to class for an hour and they would let us spar with each other after. That was literally the only reason we went to begin – to punch the shit out of each other. He stopped going and I carried on. The football went out of the window and Muay Thai became my passion.”
Can you guide us through your career?
“As I got into it more, I was at GFC more often. There were about ten of us that were the hardcore at the gym. I used to go to all the interclubs with guys like Scot Quigg and his brother Ken. We all had a good sense of competition and team spirit, so we pushed each other. I had my first fight at 25 years old. I started coming through and fighting on shows, where I began meeting guys like Liam Harrison and Andy Howson and seeing what was possible. I had no expectations at that point and never would have dreamed that I would become world champion. After I got divorced, I got into my training even more and went out to Thailand where I fought out of Jittigym in Bangkok for three years. I fought about 85 times in my career, including one K1 fight which I won, and a pro boxing fight which I lost. I took the pro boxing bout with a week’s notice against a Thai who was in the top 10 in Asia and WBC ranked. I lost on points because I thought the scoring system was like Thai and took it easy for the first two rounds. I was the first foreigner to win the Toyota 8 Man Tournament in 2011, I was two-times world champion at 66.6 and 67kg, ranked number 2 in the UK and number 18 in the world by the WBC. I fought in Lumpinee Stadium and on the Queen’s Birthday Celebration in Bangkok.”
Who were the most influential people in your career?
“The first would be Scott Chadwick. I liked his demeanour: he was down to earth and enjoyed teaching. His natural enthusiasm really struck a chord with me when I was first getting into Muay Thai and made me hungry to learn more. Scott was British champion – he was a superstar to me.
“Darren Phillips at GFC showed me the technical side of Muay Thai and taught me about the judging and scoring. The first couple of classes with Darren left me dumbstruck, so I stopped going. He asked me why I stopped and I told him that I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but he convinced me to start going again and it all started making sense.
“Master Sken was an inspiration to me, as were the lads from Leeds: Richard Smith and the guys at Bad Company. Liam Harrison and Andy Howson were younger than me, but had been training longer and had more experience, so I looked up to them. Richard Cadden too. Craig Jose was someone I fought twice when I was coming through and he motivated me to progress. When I lived in Thailand, Jitti and his trainers were everything I needed at the time and really helped push me to succeed.”
What was your hardest fight?
“My first British title fight against Craig Jose was a hard fight. Craig caught me with a few accidental/sneaky knees to the groin and I couldn’t walk properly for about a week and a half. My fight against Grant Fielding on one of Sandy Holt’s shows was a real scrap too. Otherwise, Sagatphet was a tough one and most of the Thais gave me really hard fights.”
Which title are you proudest of winning?
“The Toyota Marathon 8 Man tournament in 2011. The Toyota belt meant a lot to me, I was the first foreigner to ever win it and I knocked out the then Lumpini number 1 in the final. It was also a crossroads for me. As anyone who fights knows, there are anticlimaxes, and after winning it, I felt that I could never climb any higher than winning the Toyota belt. It was a massive factor in my retirement and could never really get motivated in the same way after winning it. I also lost my sense of fear before a fight and that made me reassess things. I felt that if I had no fear of fighting, then maybe it was time to call it a day.”
Where has Muay Thai taken you?
“All over: Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, China. Everywhere was great for different reasons. I treat every day as a new day and get excited about new experiences – I’m like a big kid really. I have lots of good memories and friends from lots of different places. I hope I get the chance to travel more: I’d love to visit Africa and South America.”
How long have you been coaching and what do you like about it?
“I’ve been properly doing PTs for about 10 years and been holding pads for 15 years. I like helping others – it’s like problem solving. I like seeing people achieving their goals and seeing the look of enjoyment on their faces. I want to help people win fights, stay safe and lose weight. It has taken me places too – I recently went to China to corner for Mateusz Duczmal from Bad Company on Wu Fight. I like being paid to do what I enjoy. It’s been hard at times, but I couldn’t work in a factory or anything like that. It’s taken two years to make this place pay, but success doesn’t come overnight and it is worth working for.”
If you reignited your fighting career, what would hope to achieve?
“In an ideal world, I’d quite like to revisit some of my past losses and rivalries. I fought Craig Jose twice and we got one each, so it would be nice to have a decider. I’d quite like to have another with Michael Dicks and Tim Thomas, as I lost to both of them. Otherwise, I would just like to fight again – I miss it and I still have a burning desire to get in the ring.”
Andy Thrasher is based in Bury and trains students in The Dog Pit MuayThai and K1 Fightcamp, as well as teaching at various other gyms in northwest England. You can contact Andy through The Dog Pit Facebook page