Whitehorse’s Greg Sanderson is going to the Muay Thai nationals and it’s win or learn, not win or lose.
“In martial arts it’s all about the journey: you either win or you learn,” said Sanderson. “I’m going in with a winning mentality and self-belief is the biggest thing in any type of competition.”
Sanderson almost didn’t get to make the journey. The 25-year-old will compete at the National Muay Thai Championship next week in Toronto thanks to a pair of local sponsors that have come forward to help Sanderson with expenses for the trip to Ontario.
Dave’s Cleaning, a Whitehorse-based janitorial services company, and another business that has requested anonymity, are covering travel expenses so Sanderson can compete at his first national championship.
“I’m fighting more guys with more experience than me,” said Sanderson. “With all the support I’m getting, all the training, I’ve actually gone up a division in experience. So I’m in B division, which includes elbows. I’ve never fought with elbows, so it makes me nervous, but at the same time it makes me really excited.”
While two local businesses have stepped forward to get Sanderson to nationals, another has been getting him prepared for the ring.
N60 Combative Arts, a Whitehorse gym that opened in May, has been providing Sanderson with free training, physiotherapy and a nutrition program.
“I didn’t really think it was going to happen. Without the support I’ve had here, there’s no chance I’d be going. I haven’t fought in two years, so it’s really exciting for me,” said Sanderson.
“I’ve been in here (N60) every day of the week training hard, getting the sweat going. Sheldon (Casselman) has been putting me through the wringer. It’s Whitehorse, but there are countless guys putting time in, sacrificing their time, their blood, their sweat, to help me prepare. I’m really thankful for it; I’m really appreciative of these guys.
“When I get back I’m hoping I can share knowledge from the experience from nationals and get the next guy ready for their fights.”
Sanderson has studied Muay Thai, a combat sport from Thailand focused on stand-up striking with fists, elbows, knees and shins, for five years. It’s his passion, he says.
He has competed in three exhibition fights — bouts without a winner declared at the end.
“I’d say I’ve won them all — there was a close one that could have gone either way,” said Sanderson. “But I went out to lunch the next day and the other dude had to go to the hospital with a broken foot.”
“It’s not all about wins, it’s about the experience and growing,” he quickly adds. “I’m not doing this to get a win, I’m doing this because I want the experience and I want to grow as a person.”
Sanderson, who moved to Whitehorse from Ontario a year and a half ago, will be among 156 fighters at the nationals. He will compete in the 81-kilogram class and will be up against Toronto fighters Gavin Young and Qasim Rehman.
Sanderson will be the only competitor from the territories in Toronto.
“In Whitehorse we have popular judo programs, we have popular taekwondo programs, but Muay Thai is not on the map right now,” said Sanderson. “When I go down there I’m going to be meeting with a representative of Muay Thai Canada … I’m hoping we can set up a time and start talking about Yukon and the territories and Muay Thai, and being sanctioned and recognized by Sport Yukon.
“Ultimately that’s what I want to do — bring Muay Thai to Whitehorse, one way or another.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org