John Wayne Parr – One on one with The Gunslinger

John Wayne Parr

The 10-time world champion John Wayne Parr doesn’t really need much introduction. A humble legend of the sport of muay thai Parr is fighting professionally since age 16. He has fought at the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium on several occasions, won two world titles there and been voted “Best Farang (Foreign) Fighter” in 1997.

The people of Thailand revere Parr for his ferocity, relentlessness and extraordinary skill he showcases inside the ring. A fighter who constantly tested himself against the best, JWP has repeatedly clashed with Muay Thai legends such as Yodsanklai and Buakaw and at age 39 he still has no plans of stopping anytime soon! John Wayne Parr on “weak legs”, morning routines, proving doubters wrong and more!

Q: – You started TKD at age 10 already thinking about going over to Korea, immersing yourself in martial arts and in a completely different culture. Obviously this mentality stayed with you and made you ultimately to move to Thailand for muay thai. Giving up and leaving behind everything, going to some other country with no friends, no support and not even speaking the language takes some fearless attitude. Where did this attitude, the fearlessness came from?

A: – As a child my family has moved a lot. I was always the new guy and bit of a loner. Moving to another country was not a problem at all until I got there. But being able to communicate for the first few months besides sign language was very difficult, but once I started picking it up I just became one of them.

Q: – Have you had any other fighters in the family?

A: – My dad was a jockey and to help lose weight before big rides use to do boxing training. He ended up having 3 amateur fights but I was too young to attend. Even though I didn’t see with myself him fight, in my head my father was a super hero with just the idea that he was a fighter.

Q: – Did your parents support you from the very beginning in your decisions? How did you make them agree to let you go to Thailand? You’ve been around 19 yrs old at that time, right?

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A: – I think my first memories of wanting to be a martial artist started when I was about 3 yo after watching monkey magic every afternoon.  When I was ten we moved to Brisbane, I was finally in the city area after living on farms my whole life. I went in a few competitions and knew it’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life.  Like I said we moved a lot when I was growing up. Every time we moved my mum would help my find a new gym to train at.

When I was 18 it was time for my parents to move again. This time they said “now you are old enough, you can stay here and get work or come with us”. My training was going well and I was fighting regularly so I decided to stay. Then after a big fight a year later I was offered to move to Thailand for 6 months as a sponsorship. My parents were naturally nervous, but they knew this was my path.

Q: – From very early on it seemed you absolutely knew your goals and wanted to become a champion, a star. Where did this drive come from? Did you want to prove something?

A: – When I was 13 I came home after having a great session at training. My mum was already in bed and I came into the room all excited. I told her I had been sparring the adults and winning. I told her “mum, I finally found a sport that I think I’m really good at. I’m going to be a world champion one day”.

My mum thought I was delusional, she had a little chuckle and thought it was cute that I had my head in the clouds. I held that against her for over 10 years wanting to prove to her I wasn’t lying. When I finally won my first world title I rang my mum all excited “remember when I was 13 yo and you laughed at me”. She had no idea what I was talking about and obviously forgot. But to me it was one of the most important things I wanted to prove.

Q: – To shift gears a bit, do you have a specific daily routine? How does your first few hours in the morning look like?

A: – I wake up approx 4:45am, have a coffee and check my ridiculously funny Instagram to see if my latest posts had killed it from the day before. I drive to the gym and on the road at 6am running for an hour. Last 6 weeks I have a trainer to do pads with usually doing 5 rounds before sit ups. I might have a PT after training, then have a 9:30 class I teach. I’m lucky I close the gym at 10:30am and have free time till 4pm to rest before starting it all again.

Q: – Have you ever had/still have a pre-fight ritual? If yes could you elaborate on it?

A: – I don’t touch my pee pee besides going to the toilet and showering 3 weeks before a fight so I have strong legs. I also like to pray the night before in case my heaven is far and my prayer is a next day delivery.

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Q: – You had tons of fights and lots of mileage on you. How do you try to remedy/rehab past injuries and avoid new ones?

A: – I’m very lucky that in my career most of my injuries are only cut from elbows. After a few stitches and a week I’m back together and ready to go again.

Q: – How important was/is visualization for you for the fights?

A: – I’m a very positive person and believe in my abilities. Long as I train hard i never doubt I’m going to lose.

Q: – Which tattoos are the most important ones for you and why?

A: – I have two Sak yants that are very important to me. One is I can’t get shot, other is I can’t get stabbed. Since I have had both tattoos I have never been shot or stabbed so they must be working.

Q: – As Joe Rogan would put it – combat sports is High-level problem solving (although with dire health consequences). How did muay thai, the lessons learned has helped you in navigating through life?

A: – Mmm good question. Muay Thai is my therapy. Every time I’m feeling down or depressed, soon as I start training my mind is distracted and I’m in my happy place until I have to face reality again.

Q: – What keeps the fire alive in you and makes you that motivated? Is there still something to be achieved? Do you still want to prove something to yourself?

A: – When I first started my main desire was to be a world champion. After I won that I wanted to take it to the next level. I have dedicated my whole life to the sport, so now my focus is to leave a legacy as one of the greatest fighters to come out of Australia.

Q: – What was the best advice you ever received and who gave it to you?

A: – Train hard, listen to your trainers, fight as often as you can. Doesn’t matter where you are on the fight card, always fight exciting giving it everything you have so when people leave the venue it’s your fight they are talking about. You never know who is going to be in the crowd watching and what doors they can open for you.

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