“I’m heading to one of the the top gyms in the world, Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand.”
Power shot to prominence in 2018 when becoming Ireland’s youngest professional boxer at the age of just 17. Since then, he boasts a record of 5-0, with four of his wins coming by knockout. Included in these victories are fights in Hungary and Mexico.
The 19-year-old was due to head to Los Angeles full-time at the start of last year but, Covid restrictions on visas have meant he couldn’t make the trip over.
A couple of weeks ago, the Cork fighter finally got approval but won’t be allowed to go until the summer. This left Power in limbo.
“I signed a contract in February 2020 to move to LA.” Power told Pundit Arena.
“Since then, we’ve been trying to get the visa. We’ve been battling with the embassy and all that.
“Leading up to New Year’s this year, it got approved but we knew that regardless, we wouldn’t be able to head to the States until the summer because of the visa restrictions.
Determined not to let another six months pass him by, Power made the bold decision to pack his bags and head to Phuket, Thailand for a training camp.
“I promised myself that I wouldn’t sit idle for another year,” he explained.
“I stuck out the past year, hoping 2021 would bring a bit of good news. I’m now heading to one of the top gyms in the world, Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand.
“So I suppose it’s a different step but a big opportunity for me. The gym is full of world champions, full of UFC fighters, some of the most talented and, I suppose, dangerous athletes in the world.”
Power will be linking up with former Irish light middleweight title challenger, John Hutchinson.
Hutchinson is a boxing coach over in Tiger Muay Thai and a phone call with Power convinced the Corkman that this was the right move for him.
“I’ll be training with John Hutchinson who is a former pro-boxer and more importantly, he’s an Irishman!”
“Speaking to John he said – ‘Gyms are open so you’ll have to see for yourself’ – John’s very sensible. He’s been in the game a long time. He knows what’s needed, the training and all the demands. So he’ll train me for a few months.
“Not fighting since December 2019 is not ideal for a young fighter. It’s not ideal career-wise so I’m hoping to get a few fights over there, come home in the summer and then fly out to Los Angeles.”
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While making the trip alone may seem daunting to most 19-year-olds, professional athlete or not, Power can lean on his experience of moving to Mexico at the beginning of his pro career.
“It’s another trip I’ll be making alone,” he continued.
“I think Mexico and Thailand have a lot of similarities. They’re both very passionate about fighting, they’re very humble people. So I’m looking forward to it.
“Training wise – it looks incredible. Petr Yan and Khalil Roudtree are in camp over there. It’s just going to be good to be in that atmosphere again, surrounded by those top athletes.
“It’s a priceless experience for a young fighter like me so it’ll definitely benefit me moving forward. To have UFC champions in your gym is remarkable.
“Other coaches – S&C coaches, western boxing coaches. It’ll be interesting to step into that gym, it’s like no other. I think it is the biggest combat gym in the world.”
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Lockdown has been challenging for everyone but how does a professional boxer keep on top of their fitness without any gyms open?
For Power, it was a chance to try different things so he got into running.
“In 2020, it was a challenging time for everyone. As an athlete, who has devoted his whole life to one sport – my identity is wrapped up in boxing, and it still is – it was a struggle to not lose my mind, to not worry about boxing and get frustrated with gyms closing and all that,” Power explained.
“So I switched my focus to running. I started off by waking up and saying ‘let’s do a 50km.’ At the time, that was a challenge but looking back now, it doesn’t seem that big a deal. I could wake up any morning now and go do it!”
For most people, 5km has been the target over lockdown but Power wanted to push his body to the limits. He completed two 80km, with one of his times coming in at 7:32:29, which works out as a 5:39/km split time over the distance. He then moved on to a 100km challenge.
“The 100km one was a lot more enjoyable. I approached it with a mindset of ‘I’m blessed to be able to get out this morning and go for a run.’ Just be grateful that my body can carry me this far.
“So I ran from town to town, without support so I had no other choice but to finish it. Getting water and supplies in each town and continuing on to the next one until 100km was racked up.”
Running and boxing relationship.
While running will help improve Power’s fitness, the Cork teenager feels it will have as many benefits outside the ring as it does inside.
“I think it’s definitely going to benefit me moving forward even if it’s not in boxing, just in life,” he said.
“Knowing that you can endure 11 hours of running if you have to. You can endure a lot more than you think you’re capable of. If you’re going through a difficult time or anything like that, you know that you can get to the end of it.
“It’s going to help me in training. If I’m in sparring or if I’m mid-workout, and looking at everyone else, I know I have more in the gas tank than them. Even if I don’t, I’ll believe that I do.
“If you’re preparing for boxing there’s definitely no need to be running that much, or that distance. But, I took a step back from sports-specific work and started looking at life specific work that I didn’t focus all of my life before. Things I would have neglected.
“2020 I’ve ran a lot, read a lot of books and listened to a lot of podcasts. It’s about improving in all areas. Developing every quality and characteristic.”
Power arrived in Bangkok on Friday and will have to quarantine for two weeks before heading down to Phuket to settle into camp there.
He has brought over plenty of books to help him through the next two weeks.
“I can’t wait to read Eddie Hearn’s book, I think that’ll be brilliant. Best book I’ve read so far was, hands down, ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins. I think it’s a must-read. ‘The Art of Resilience’ by Ross Edgley also.”
2020 was a year of uncertainty for James Power as he didn’t manage to nail down a professional fight. However, with his recent running exploits, he seems fresh and focused ahead of his Thai training camp.
With a wise head on young shoulders, and a permanent LA move on the horizon in the summer, expect big things from the 19-year-old Cork fighter in 2021.
“My goal now is to be world champion, to develop as a fighter. Continue to learn, continue to grow. Being over in Thailand, I know I will do that.”
Follow James Power’s Thailand journey by checking out his Instagram page @_jamespower.