Interview with John Wayne “The Gunslinger” Parr

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I am very fortunate to have recently had the opportunity to interview The Gunslinger himself, Muay Thai/boxing legend John Wayne Parr. With a professional record of 147 fights and 110 wins, JWP is a legend in every sense of the word. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity, so let’s jump into the interview.

ME: Hi John, thank you for this opportunity. With a career of 147 fights lasting since 1992, what do you contribute as the main factor that kept you so dedicated to the sport at such a high level?

JWP: From the time I could walk, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a martial artist and become a fighter. I fought in taekwondo when I was 11 years old and had my first kickboxing fight at 14. At eleven I wanted to be a world champion and promised myself nothing was going to distract me (girls, friends, partying) from reaching my destiny.

ME: You released a very highly respected documentary titled Blessed with Venom, what was it that gave you the idea to do this and how did it come about?

JWP: A friend of mine, James Richards, had his son training at our gym. I’d share stories with him about the old days living in Bangkok. James is in the film industry and discussed a project with Guy Norris, who directed the latest Mad Max and other big-budget films. They asked me “would you like to make a documentary on your life in Thailand?” I said of course. A few days later we were on a plane and landed in Bangkok. At breakfast, Guy handed me a piece of paper and a pen and asked me to write down everyone I think we should interview.

We were lucky that everyone we rang happened to be available. We filmed for a week in Thailand. Then, it was 10 months in the editing suite to make it into a story.

As it was wrapping up, I fought Michael Zambidis. Guy and Jim flew to Melbourne to support me. They ran into Graeme Burke who runs Village Roadshow. Guy told Graeme about the documentary and Graeme asked if he could see it. After watching, he was so impressed that he allowed us to do 2 weeks in cinemas across Australia.

ME: On a personal level, you came to my attention during “The Contender Asia”, how did this come about, and how do you feel it helped or hindered the direction of your career?

JWP: I was a big fan of The Boxing Contender, so when I heard there would be a Muay Thai version I got very excited. I saw they had made an opening title with some of the fighters with the soundtrack playing in the background. Lucky for me, the phone rang two weeks before they started filming. Someone had got hurt and they asked if I would like to take their place.

As I had lived in Thailand for so long, living in the Contender House was easy. All the guys soon turned into one big family. Except for Rafik [Bakkouri]. That guy was a d*ck.

ME: After a successful retirement fight against Mundine, is this the end of The Gunslinger? Or are we going to see you take on your coaching role with your daughter Jazzy, who is already following in her dad’s footsteps as a successful fighter?

JWP: After fighting, all I have is teaching, so I definitely plan to keep busy teaching at my gym and seminars overseas.

ME: You always speak fondly of legend Ramon Dekkers, can you tell me how it was to be around the guy and how did it feel getting hit by those kicks?

JWP: Dekkers was the man to show the world the Thai fighters can not only be beaten but if you hit them hard enough, knocked out. Every time I was in fear of a Thai opponent I would ask “What would Ramon do?”. Then have confidence that I could win.

ME: Is there a specific fighter out there that you would have liked to have fought but it never materialized?

JWP: No. I’m happy. I recently looked at my career and discovered I’ve had 76 fights overseas out of 147. I got to live my dream multiple times over and have no regrets.

I would just like to thank John for giving me the opportunity of asking these questions and would like to wish John and his family all the best on their future endeavours.

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James Rees is host of ReesTalks Podcast and a Football, F1 and MMA writer, who strives to bring you the best content aswel as bringing you interviews with some of the sports top stars.