Forty Year Old Man wants to Fight Muay Thai

I am a forty year old ex-drunk who wants to fight Muay Thai. This might all seem like an impossible dream; you might even think that I’m a bit reckless to even consider it – these thoughts have crossed my mind too. Thai kick boxing is one of the fiercest fighting arts on the planet, and entering a ring with somebody trained in this art is probably not the most sensible way to be dealing with a mid-life crisis – but there it is. This idea has been playing around in my head for a few years now and it just won’t go away. The idea of actually going through with it scares the shit of me, but also fills me with a great deal of excitement too.


As well as seeming crazy and impossible, stepping into a Muay Thai ring seems a bit inevitable – my life is like that. I don’t know how exactly it is going to happen, but wheels are in motion to take me to that day. It might take a couple of years, but that’s where I’m heading. I have always found that the best way to deal with an impossible goal is to break it down into manageable little goals. Sometimes this break down into little goals happens without any conscious effort from me. My recent act of trying to get back into shape by purchasing a punch bag now seems like a small step on the path to my final goal.

So why does this 40 year old want to fight Muai Thai?

Before alcohol took over my world a big love of mine was martial arts. Throughout two decades of pissing my life away I would often stop to wonder about what would’ve happened if I’d have just kept at the martial arts. Looking back then it seemed like the only time I’d been happy in my life. I felt like I’d really missed out and I loathed myself a bit because of it.

Here I am over twenty-three years since my last martial arts class (unless you count Tai-Chi) and a part of me wants to recover that thing I lost to alcohol. Of course, I could just join a Karate class here in Bangkok; that would probably be a much more sensible choice for a middle aged person like me. This doesn’t appeal to me so much though. I want to be challenged, and Muay Thai is certainly going to do that. I also want to face my fears and the idea of learning Muay Thai here in Thailand is going to involve overcoming many of these.

Can a Man in Middle Age fight Muay Thai?

The one thing that I’ve found in recovery from addiction that anything really is possible. This is what happens when we give up booze or drugs. We get to live the life we were meant to live and we get to watch our childhood dreams come true. This is what makes life in recovery so great and it is why every drunk and addict owes it to themselves to escape addiction and love life.

The fact that I’ve made my secret dream public knowledge puts even more pressure on me to make it a reality – that’s part of my reason for publishing this post. I don’t have any real plan of action except that I want to get into better physical shape over the next few months. I’ve read the Muay Thai books and seen the videos and now is the time to take some real action.

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57 thoughts on “Forty Year Old Man wants to Fight Muay Thai

  1. Why not? Randy Couture fought in the octagon until well into his forties and you know how brutal mma is. Think you are doing a great thing–otherwise you will always wonder what could have happened.

    By the way, I am a 51-year old 5th Dan in Kenpo who spars with my students, sometimes point and sometimes full contact. I love it! It keeps you young.

    1. Great topic

      Training MuayThai in NE off Thailand
      Great fun and a great condition…but realy hard to keep up 3 min off 5 rounds tooooo tired
      I did try any cardio to build more performance .nothing works

  2. I appreciate the encouragment Matt. It is good to know that we can still get a lot from martial arts after forty. I think you are right about keeping people young.

    1. Hi.I just come across you blog about starting Thai after 40.How did you cope and did you get down to training or having full-contact fight at all.I want to start train myself to keep fit ,but no sure about full contact fight as I can not afford any injury due which I could loose my job.

  3. well its a month later and i hope you been keeping to what to , what you want to do, i am 32 and have been doing muay thai for 2 years , before i started i was worried i was going to be the oldest guy in the class , you know what i was and i didnt care because i was doing the one thing i allways wanted to do, i was getting knocked around by young guys and sometimes did not feel good but i knew id get there someday , and you know what nobody knocks me around anymore, so if you really want it you can achieve it, good luck and hope you achiece all you want to.

  4. i am 39 for last november 6, only this december i am starting to learn how to box, all my life i wanted to this but time was a matter, and i was a alcoholic addict too. in my mind i don’t feel i am late to learn, i am sure i can be a bit older to be a professional, but i will not give up. i will find a ring either to beat some one or to get beaten up, it will energise me, make me happy, my fears will go away, certaionly it wiull keep me young

    1. Hi Thasleem Mohamed Reza, thanks for commenting. I’m not sure that wanting to beat people up or get beaten up is a good path to happiness, but learning to discipline mind and body is a good choice for anyone. For me martial arts is not about fighting other people, but about fighting who I was yesterday.

  5. hello Paul,

    i am 44 years old. I have taken up Muay Thai Since 2009, traveling to train in Sinbi Phuket for a few weeks, Sor chitlada now and then. But like you i still think i am not ready to fight.

    I got married 2 years back and planning a family. so need to take all these into consideration although it would be my ultimate dream to step into a muay thai ring to fight a real fight.

    i am very intrigue with you website and the challenges you face and overcome them. keep it up !

      1. hi Paul,

        i really need to have at least one pro fight before i drop off from this earth. I am training everyday in my muay thai gym in malaysia and going to phuket. Most times i train at Sinbi. hope they can get me a fight.


          1. i go to this gym, SINBI and they are great. i shall be there this april, likely on the songkran week. hope to see you there!

            i will be in bangkok from feb 14-17 on business. hope to be able to visit and train in one of bangkok’s finest, any ideas? i will be at sukhumvit 21

          2. There are some good options in central Bangkok. Fighting Spirit Gym is apparently good – that is near Lumpini. I highly recommend Sitsongpeenong, but it might be too far from where you are staying.

  6. Its also been a dream of mine to step into a ring, I’m 39 and been training for about 9 months and absolute love it. I’m now just as fit or even fitter than the young lads in their early 20s. I want to have a fight hopefully by early Summer 2012, so I’ll be slowly increasing my training regime. It doesn’t matter about your age as long as you can keep up with the others and your confident in yourself your be fine. Good luck!

  7. Hi guys, im adam 28 from uk
    What an interesting blog i found it by chance when
    Googling ‘im i ti old fir a fight career’ ive been
    Martial arts on and off through mylife abit flakey if
    Im honist! 6 years ago i went from western kickboxing
    To MUAY THAI….. Now im obsessed! Have been ever since
    Ive been planning to to Thailand for a few yeara now and at last
    I have chance to do it, so ive sold up and off to pesue fight career
    Who know i might get my asses beat….but MUAY THAI Is in the heart!!!!

    I think you guys are amzing! I hopf im still throwing elbows at 40
    Why slow down! Like the majority! …. Good luck guys all the best

    1. Hi Adam, it is good to hear that you are going for your dreams. I don’t think you are too old for a fighting career at all. You sound determined so I’m sure your decision to move to Thailand will be one you won’t regret. There are some dreams that we just can’t give up on.

  8. I am fixing to be 38 and have been fighting pro Thai for 9 years. You can be in condition to fight into your 40’s but the concern would be bone density and overal recovery. Calcium and vitamin D will help and bag bag bag. Go get em!!!

  9. Hello Paul – I am also an ex drunk and friend of Bill W. I have been sober two and a half years now. Like you described, I spent most of my 20’s and all of my 30’s in the bottle. 2 divorces, numerous jobs and a ton of personal and financial wreckage in my rear view mirror. Since I quit drinking life has come to mean so much more. I don’t think it’s easy to understand unless you have come out of the hell of addiction. It truly is like being re-born. I am eager to improve myself and face new challenges. I came across your origanal post about beginning training in Muay Thai and was curious as to your progress. Has it been what you expected? More or less difficult? I have my first session next week. I am 43 and have ZERO martial arts experience. I am excited and of course nervous. Looking forward to your response. James, Oklahoma, USA

    1. Hi James, I was training for about 18 months and full-time for a few of those months, but I haven’t so much as aimed a knee at a punchbag in over a year. Muay Thai does feel like unfinished business to me so maybe I’ll have a chance to return to training at a later date. I sort of miss it. Good luck with your training.

  10. Hi guys, its so good to read so many differences and experiences, Im 45, just in Love with Muay Thay…As a Brazilian Woman, could exist without Tasted, have some concerns about the age….but..Im just go foward.

  11. I am 38 and been involved in Muay Thai since I was 15. Like many I had potential but never saw it through to conclusion (titles). I have restarted again after 5 years away. I don’t feel like I ever left. I don’t think I’ll be able to let the dream go until I fully pursue a title shot even just a national. Unfinished business never goes away, even at 38. All you can do is try. Nothing is worse than taking a dream to the grave.

    I am a Sports/physiotherapist and Personal Trainer who thinks the world is changing. People in their middle years are becoming more exercise savvy. I see a new age of people in their 30’s and 40’s becoming champions. If you have the heart, the body will follow, regardless of age.

  12. Hi Paul,

    Just wondering how far you got in your dream of wanting to fight Muay Thai?

    Either way, was admirable reading your determined statement from a few years back.

  13. Hi Paul,

    I happened to chance upon this blog. I hope its not too late to salute you for getting yourself out of the problems that you have had and I hope you are into Muay Thai now. I am 50 years old, have 3 grown-up kids, living in Malaysia and have been practising Muay Thai for the past 2 years. It’s not easy for me as I am not really a sports person and the training was extremely painful to me. There were times when I was wondering when my heart will burst out or my legs dislodged from me. My trainer, Kru Watcharachai was extremely supportive and had me sparring in the ring (him being a veteran of over 220 fights with an approximate record of 180 wins and only 40 losses and a former WMC champion, 2000 Thailand Fighter of the year and Rajadamnern stadium fighter of the year) with him after 5 months of training. Believe me, Paul, all these training not only gave you a perspective of life, but I was rather proud (with a slightish smile on my face) when my son told his friends that his dad practises Muay Thai and they just went “oooooo!!!!”.

    Hope to see you taking the next step, i.e. into the ring.

    1. Hi Eddie, you are inspiring. I haven’t been training in recent months, but I am itching to get back to it. I would like my son to be able to tell his friends his dad practices muay thai.

  14. I am going to be 50 in July. I have been training boxing for a year in 2013-2014 and now training Muay Thai for whole year. I have no intention to stop for another 3-4 years and then I will see. Still love to drink my beer on weekend though 🙂
    Guys keep kicking and punching! Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

  15. Hey there Paul.
    Just read your post and loved it. I’m 43 and have been training Muay Thai for the past 5 months. I’m not a recovering alcoholic but a middle aged guy who felt something missing in his life. I would wake up, go to work, come back watch tv go to sleep -rinse and repeat. I absolutely love the sport and passionate about it. This martial art has really made an incredible change in my life. I train with guys from all ages although admittedly i’m one of the older guys. I feel stronger more confident and lost alot of weight. Loved to hear that others from my stage in life share this passion as well. All thr best.

  16. Hi Paul,

    Loved your blog post.

    Where do I start, I, like you have always been into martial arts, since I can remember. I use to watch enter the dragon, bloodsport, kick boxer literally all the time, huge Bruce Lee, Van Damme, Jackie Chan fan. Anyway, I first went to thailand in 2010, where i trained for the first time Muay Thai. I was 28yrs old then. Through out my late teens and 20’s I have been a heavy pot smoker, and addict. That is where my money went. I am 33 now, turning 34 this year, I have now not smoked anything for a good few months. The first month i wanted to kill myself and didn’t see a way out, there was no light. I couldn’t sleep, sweats, shakes, vivid dreams, it was absolutely horrible. I can now see light though, and coming through it, i have found what i want to do, and have been wanting to do for a long time. That is to pack up here in the UK and head over again to Thailand, but this time to train full time for 1 year and see where it leads me. I’d like to change my life around and become a fitness trainer one day.
    I feel sometimes that 33 is too old to start Muay Thai training, probably because paranoia is set in my head still from years of abuse. I think that i obviously am not conditioned and even if i trained and conditioned myself through out a year, if i was up against someone who has been conditioned for say 2-5 yrs, he would snap my bones in terms of shin kicks etc. This may just be a head thing that i need to get around. Believe me i am scared to hell of the thought of going in the ring, but on the other hand, the excitement and the buzz ill get from just getting in the ring for the first time i think will have a profound effect on me in a good way.
    I am planning my trip to head out and literally do muay thai full time, 6 days a week, live on camp, and change camps every 1-3 months to meet new people, techniques and trainers, and also blog about it lol.
    Reading your post and the many comments has made me think it is possible for sure.
    I have family back here, but nothing else really, i need to find myself if that makes sense and i have had this urge in me to fight / train since i was very young. It’s now come back even stronger to the point i think about it at work everyday, when i get home, etc.
    Addiction was hard to overcome, it was hard for me to admit i was an addict, when i use to say i just smoke to chill out, but it was a much deeper problem.
    Really happy i found your blog man! How are you doing now a days? In 2016 are you training still? Have you been out to thailand to train at all?
    Be great to hear how things are going in regards to this. Did you ever train in Phuket?
    Anyway, my blogs up, its empty at moment, but would be great if some of you guys can check it out later in the year.
    I have purchased everything i need for my trip, cameras, go pro, MacBooks, clothes, set my bank up so i have enough funds to do this. Man i am so bored over here with groundhog way of life you know. I need to live lol, and knowing you are a bit older than me, and some of the guys in here who commented are also, I feel now that i am not that old to do this.
    Anyway, sorry for the long message, got carried away. Hey at least you have shown me inspiration 🙂 Take care man, be good to hear from you.

    All the best

    1. Hi Kei – it sounds like you are about to set off on an amazing adventure. I think 34 years old could be a great age to do some full-time training. I continue to live in Thailand (I’ve been here 16 years), but I haven’t done much Muay Thai recently (unless you count skipping for 30 minutes per day). I do sometimes miss it, but I have other priorities in my life now. The idea of getting in the ring doesn’t appeal much to me any longer – it was more the training I enjoyed. I did do a little bit of training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, just a few days, and it was an exciting place to visit. It will be interesting to hear how your adventure works out – enjoy.

  17. Guys v interesting reading these posts all inspiring & good to find. In Thailand I’m now training MT after never having done it before. Like other posters here have been addict in past , now 39 & wondering if it’s sensible to be training Muay Thai twice per day (0730-0930&1630-1830) ie 2 hours each time. Any input? Recently i pulled a muscle in lower leg / calf whilst jogging prior to MT. Trainer at gym said should run every day to build up fitness & not just run when i feel like it. Anyhow, Iced it up & seems ok after a few days & appears i been verly luck as specialist reckons a micro cramp in a few muscle fibres is all thats wrong. It gets me thinking how much training should i be doing? Almost 40 yrs old. Should I take a couple of days off per week. Mix up the MT with maybe gym sessions. Start jogging every day. Or not jog at all. Tentative now as I don’t want to really screw up calfs. Feel good though. Diet is another issue for me though. I’ve friends who seem to be able to eat anything & stay trim. I eat a pizza & it shows. I know the cliches about can’t out train a bad diet but any older guys tips on nutrition? I’m pondering cutting out carbs /sugar & trying to get a high protein and high intake veg/salad into me but jeez it’s tough. 🙂

  18. Hi Paul my name is Judd I am 46 years of age and have been involved with martial arts for well over 30 years muay thai/k-1 specifically for over 20 years. I am currently in Thailand training over in Pattaya with Ramba M-16 Somdet. The biggest challenge that we all face in our mid to late 40’s is the time it takes for the body to recover. For me it’s after a long clinching session with younger Nak Muays. .. The recover time takes a little longer as you get older… In terms of conditioning that is another story. … i you maintain a good and discipline regimen then your good to go… but the real issue lies in the recovery time when you get injured. Also at our age risk of concussions and damage to the brain is a big possibility remember this is a very brutal sport. But regardless I admire and respect your dream and goals… I too have the idea in the back of my head to take a fight. . In thailand… Most important thing is your conditioning and skill development. After that If You are at a point whereas you feel confident and secure with your conditioning and skills then why not?!! Go for it!! A close friend of mine Michael “The blacksniper” McDonald fought into his mid 40’s and look at the boxer Bernard Hopkins… he’s fighting in his 50’s!! The key thing is taking care of your body… giving it the proper rest, a good healthy diet (no street food ) and again being discipline with your training and stay injury free when training. Train smart and hard!!

    Just my 2 cents!

  19. Sawasdee khrab, Khun Paul.
    I like your post. Seeing your more recent replies to comments, I wish you the confidence, determination, stamina, and mental & physical strength to return to training and tackle your dream of fighting a match. I imagine the difficulty of training with a body that has already been impacted by alcohol. You are brave — some might say, unwise — to set foot into a Muay Thai gym… in Thailand… at 40 years old. I applaud you. (Besides, wisdom resides not only in the mind, but in the body and spirit.) I just started training as a nak muay in January and also wish I’d come to it earlier. But, as the saying goes, I’m here now. I love the intensity, comradery, challenge and sportsmanship of it. It’s a huge part of my life now. And, I will fight for it. Especially the toughest fight — against slipping back into the slow death I was calling a life. So, as the Koreans cheer each other on, to you I say, FIGHTING!!
    P.S. I’m 53. 🙂 really

  20. I am aged 72 and did martial arts 35 years ago. I have had several weeks training at muay thai and loving every minute of it. the guys do not go made at me but they do not pussy around me either as I do not want that. I wore a watch that registers my heart beat and it averaged 40 and peaked at 155 several times during sparring and in 90 minutes used 800 calories. I have ordered all the padding as I intend keeping at it. I not fool enough to think that I could enter a contest as much as I would like to

    1. Good for you Joe. I am 60 myself and thought I was the oldest person reading this blog.
      I dont know if the shin bone strengthening can still be done but I suppose it would keep a person young in spirit.

  21. Just started doing Muay-Thai AND Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu aged 49, four times per week, 60mins each session. Been at it for 5 weeks and love it.

    Previously I had done the usual fitness stuff: running, weights, Crossfit, etc…but my deep-passion was always for boxing, which I was never able to do in my youth.
    Now, living in Brasil, Muay-Thai and MMA is pretty much as common everywhere you look.
    I´m the oldest in my gym by about 8 years, but have no issues or problems with either training or sparring (unless I get my pre-workout calorie-calculation wrong and I feel like throwing-up/passing out during a lesson, lol).
    Being pretty athletic for my age, tall and long-limbed, and some knowledge of ´how to box´does help and gives me some ´advantage´ over shorter, faster, younger men (and women) in my gym and the use of 14-16oz gloves ensures you don´t see too many stars when you get hit flush in the face!

    All-in-all, its a great feeling to be able to go and endure the physical endurance and throw the MT kicks that you initially thought you couldn´t…plus, it stops you drinking alcohol and eating a bad diet – if you don´t, then you suffer for it when you do train.

    I´m not going to fight properly at my age – there´s no deep-desire to for one and the feeling I get and the improvement in stamina, physique and libido(!) make the reasons for me doing this worthwhile!

  22. Hi Paul,
    I am 41 and I have just 6 months training Muay thai here in Brazil where I am living. I liked so much, that I am practicing 5 times per week plus some running during the week. I was always sport fan but, I had to lose 23 kilos from my two pregnancies. Still I have to lose 6 of them but I am now in very good physical condition, even better than my younger colleagues at the sport center. My instructor says that I am very strong, even stronger than the young ladies there. So, he is preparing me for combat next year. I am doing everything step by step, losing just half kilo per week of fat and keeping up my cardio and muscle. Probably next year when I get the 6 kilos off and more technique I will have my first official fight. I am looking forward to that 🙂 I do not feel any close to old, I am full of energy and I always felt like a warrior so why not trying?

  23. Hi Paul, I’m 47 been training MT for 2 years. Train 3 days a week maybe 4 when I get a chance from home. Thinking about fighting a smoker this summer. I do drink occasionally but have a stressful job. I always like teating myself. My question is, to train for a smoker can my body hold up? If I go two days in a row I feel it. Any suggestions.

    1. Hi Ben, I kept on getting injured, and I never made it into the ring, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. Perhaps, one of the other readers of this blog could offer you some advice?

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. I agree at our age we can’t go with out injury but when u still got the fire in ur belly U have to try lol.

      2. Did you ever get a mt fight Paul? I periodically check this article & comments to see if you have any updates.

        1. Hi Jordan, nice to hear from you. I never did get to fight, and I can’t see it happening any time soon. To be honest, I decided in the end it was the training I enjoyed most.

    2. I’m a 41 year old asthma sufferer and have just had my first amatuer fight (which I won). The guy was my age and it was a good match up. I had competed in 4 interclubs before that and my 4th interclub was against a guy half my age and much heavier too). However,age is a problem for me and at the back of my head constantly. I train hard 3 to 4 times a week (5 times occasionally)but with 2 kids and work it can be very hard. I started training 2 to 3 years ago and was around 10 kilo(1 and 1/2 stone) heavier. I had my first fight at 39 years old which was also against a much heavier (7 kilo) and younger guy….For the record I got hammered in rounds 3 and 4 in that fight. The important part is I never gave up and kept going at it. This proves that MOST of everything you do in life is in your head and not govened by your birth certificate!
      Injuries take much longer to heal the older you get and diet is as important as the training itself due to a much slower metabolism over 40.
      Rest inbetween training which allows the healing is something I have also learnt is very important the older you get.
      Catch my last 2 fights on You Tube-

      I hope this post helps inspire someone to get out and do it at an older age.
      Keep training and even if you don’t fight then remember you are still doing alot more than most your age.

  24. Hi Hello , Namste,

    I am 28 years old guy ho have no previous entry into martiall/defensive arts ,can i start learning mu thai at this point ,will my body/bones handle the rigorous mu Thai training

    Note : training is strictly to fulfill my personal interest ,i dont want to participate in any competitions.

    Thanks in advance :
    “Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
    Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
    Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
    Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih”

  25. im turning 38 in a few days and have been doing muay thai for about 6 months, before that I had never done anything related to martial arts or exercise for that matter. I think mid life crisis is just over the horizon and its starting to creep in on me. I had always loved fighting but could never commit to anything, I literally spent my entire 20’s high as a kite and drinking everyday. I wasnt a drunk in the sense that you would rarely see me totally drunk but I was(maybe am still) an addict. I have smoked all drugs I ever came across and still smoke pot on a daily basis (but really only smoke a couple of drags just to ease the addiction and be able to sleep). I read a comment above where the person said they went through hell when they quit and I have gone through the same but it is soooo hard on your head, cant sleep, mood swings, desperation, the works. I think I need to really commit to quitting pot before I can think of actually even considering fighting in a ring, or even sparring for that matter .
    Not really sure this would happen even if I did that since I think the damage to my bady is already done , now i get hurt like an old man….i hurt my elbows training and they wont heal, my hips are so sore most days, my wrists as well, small punches totally shake my brain. Yet I never quit, I go to muay thai 3 times a week, sometimes 4 if i can manage to get balance work and family, and run with handweights on off gym days, no exception. I dont feel llike im even close to the younger lads in the gym but im way fitter than I have ever been and serious about continuing. I think we all need motivation and mine is with my boss wife, she is into her 50s and recently competed in an iron man competition!! I mean she has waaaay more stamina than me, how humbling it is! Thats when I said if she can do it than so can i, though i must admit shes been doing this forever and was never a drunk and stoner.

    I think we all get this doubt within us when we near the 40s mark and we start feeling older and like our time has gone by, that marvelous decade of your 20s when you think you can take the world on yet some of us spent it working as a barman drinking and getting high on a daily basis. what a waste, i guess that will always stick with me, the time gone that cannot be taken back.

    But never look back and only look forward. I havent stopped alcohol 100% but I only drink ocasionally, I quit smoking cigarretes for 9 years (after smoking another 12 years) then started again for a year (for no good reason really) and quit for good 6 months ago. Will never go back! My wife smokes and that is a bad influence though not an excuse, I know.

    for everyone nearing their 40s, dont give up, dont give in, press on! you still have it in you if you can dig deep enough and commit. Hopefully I will come through my challenges and maybe get my chance to at least get beatup in a real ring fight.

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