时时彩投注平台:Inside the mind of a Muay Thai fighter, and the world of combat sports
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In the world of martial arts, Muay Thai is known as the art of eight limbs because fighters use their elbows and knees.
The aim of the combat sport is to strike your opponent in the head, ultimately searching for a knock-out victory.
The risks weigh on the mind of Tasmanian fighter Damon Upton-Greer.
"I've taken hard shots definitely, I've been rattled or rocked as they say in fighting but I've never been out cold, which I'm happy about," Upton-Greer said.
"If I took too many shots, then I probably would hang them [the gloves] up."
The itch to be a fighter
Upton-Greer's life is dominated by Muay Thai, which he discovered after trying more mainstream sports.
Like a lot of young Australians, he loved playing soccer, but after a few washed-out matches, the coach took the team to a boxing gym, where he discovered a new love.
"I actually knocked out one of my teammates [accidentally] and the guys there said that I should start boxing," Upton-Greer said.
From boxing, his interest moved to Muay Thai fighting.
Upton-Greer decided the sport was for him when he contracted a staph infection at the age of 19.
"I was very sick; I was in ICU and on life support. I'd had this itch to be a fighter and I'd always thought that I could.
"I decided to change my life up completely and it's a bit cliched but I did nearly die so I just thought, 'You know what, I'm going to do what I want to do'.
"That near-death experience, as corny as it is, made me say, 'Stuff it, I'm going to give it a crack'."
Switching from soccer to fighting was an easy decision for Upton-Greer, but more difficult for his family to adjust to.
"Initially my family hated it. My grandmother and my mother would be quite happy if I stopped but they're a lot more supportive now," he said.
"It is a professional sport, there's a lot of skill and training involved and we're not just thugs like a lot of people have make us out to be in the past."
Training to win
Walking into the Launceston gym where Upton-Greer trains, you would be forgiven for thinking the fight was on.
His boxing gloves slap against the training pads and each impact draws out a loud grunt of effort.
"You've always just got to tell yourself whatever happens it'll be over and how bad you actually want to win," Upton-Greer said.
"I always ask myself, 'What are you willing to put yourself though?' and generally I just tell myself, 'Anything' so I've got no excuse when I'm training."
Prior to a fight, Upton-Greer's training schedule consists of different sessions with one of his coaches, Jacob Gelston.
"It's not just hitting some pads, fighting some people and then jumping in the ring, there are a lot of tactics and training that goes into it," Upton-Greer said.
"We've both got fighting brains so we'll nut it out together and my other coach too, we talk about what the game plan will be, and then we train according from there."
Taking the hits
While Upton-Greer has never been knocked out in a fight, he understands the risks that go with his sport.
"We definitely reduce the number of blows to the head we get in training. It used to be that you would come to training and you would just punch the hell out of each other," Upton-Greer said.
"You learn as you go on that there's no point taking those shots to the head in training so you wear the big gloves, you wear the protective gear, and you reduce the … [number of] shots you take in training."
What do the medical professionals think?
Dr Matt Lee Archer, a neurologist from Launceston, said one of the big questions around contact sports was what happened to people who had multiple concussive injuries.
"The truth is that the science behind this is very uncertain and we don't really know exactly what the outcomes will be," Dr Lee Archer said.
"If the injury is severe enough and enough brain cells are affected that are responsible for consciousness, when those cells are affected, that's when people pass out or lose consciousness.
"From a neurologist's point of view, every time you have a traumatic brain injury, whether it be a mild concussion or something more severe, you are at risk of permanent brain damage."
Upton-Greer said he felt Muay Thai was controlled to a high enough standard to make him feel safe.
"I've never been clean knocked out and I know a lot of people have playing football and rugby and other sports, even cricket. So really I think I'm pretty safe," Upton-Greer said.
"We get medicals done by the doctors, the Legion [Muay Thai] guys are very good in getting us on to that and we're not allowed to fight unless the doctors have seen us and signed off on us."
In a sport where the ultimate goal is to strike your opponent in the head, there is a high level of friendship and goodwill displayed.
"Almost every guy, if not all of them, I have got on well with or I've at least built some sort of friendship with them afterwards.
"At the time, it's all about trying to win," Upton-Greer said.
"It's a great feeling when you win by knockout but then you see the guy on the ground afterwards, you go over and check to make sure they're okay.
"That is the aim of the game, to hit and not get hit hopefully, but there's no malice intended, it's all just competition, it's all out of love of martial arts."
At the end of Upton-Greer's last fight the final decision went against him on split points, but he was still happy with his performance.
"That's the name of the game, [opponent] Chris [Drummond] did a good job, he's a hell of a fighter and I've got nothing but respect and love for him," Upton-Greer said.