In recent years one country, in particular, has been the perfect hotspot for the traveling fighter. That location is Thailand, Phuket in particular known for its Muay Thai gyms. Ben Royle is one of those fighters. After first experiencing Thailand in May 2016 as part of a training trip. Ben met the right people along his journey. They gave him the opportunity for sponsorship and a move to Thailand to pursue his dream.
I recently caught up with Ben. We discussed some of those things that made the holiday trip a permanent life. Check out what Ben had to say.
You first experienced Thailand in May 2016 before eventually making the move permanent in 2017. What was it that attracted you to Thailand and more specifically Phuket Top Team?
Ben – “The whole purpose of coming to Thailand in the first place was to train at Top Team actually. My friend Luke had been there in 2015 and spoke about what an amazing experience it had been. I’d always wanted to go train somewhere abroad so when he went back to Queenstown we made plans and met in Phuket the next year. During the month-long trip, I was training with the pro team and coach Eric Uresk. I realized this was where I needed to be and with help/encouragement from coach Eric and the gym I came back 3 months later as a sponsored athlete for a longer trip and just never ended up going home. “
You were brought up in Manchester. How was life growing up? What experiences did you have and how do you feel they helped you on this journey?
Ben -” I think that’s a really difficult question to answer, to be honest. I think everyone’s childhood and environment play a part in what they go on to do but I don’t really know any different so to say how it has impacted me is tough. I’m definitely proud of where I come from though and I’ve enjoyed where the journey has taken me so far. “
With an amateur record of 6-2 and a pro record of 4-1. Your BJJ has been a key factor in those wins. With so many of your finishes coming via choke or submission what was it that first attracted you to BJJ?
Ben -” I actually started training with MMA and got into BJJ to compliment that. But I think I really found my passion for martial arts in Jiu-Jitsu and the training at Factory BJJ. I was really over-reliant on it as an amateur and although I’ve been submitting people I think I’ve barely used it like a pro. The first 2.5 years in Thailand I focused so much on the other parts of my MMA game I began to neglect it. This last year I’ve really reimmersed myself in it training with Professor Olavo and have been rolling every day again. When fights resume I’m excited to show it and finish some people. “
How did MMA come about? What was it that attracted you to the sport and how long have you been training?
Ben -” I started training when I was 15, I actually had zero interest in MMA beforehand though. My friend from school Harry’s dad ran a gym but I had zero interest in going for a long time. Fortunately for me two of my mates I had been lifting weights with wanted to go there instead of the gym. I was very competitive so I ended up going to the class before the one they planned to start with so I’d have a head start on them. I was hooked on the first day and by two months later they had quit and I was training 6x a week”
You came to Phuket as a fighter. You have now started passing your knowledge on to others as a coach at Phuket top team. How did that come about? Was coaching something you were always keen to do?
Ben – “Coaching kind of happened organically I didn’t really plan it, it just sort of happened but it became a way to stay in Phuket and continue training full time. Training will always be my passion first and foremost but I really enjoy teaching and seeing my students develop and succeed.”
Your Pro fights have been for Eternal MMA. Tell us about them what are they like as a promotion? Do you have plans to stick with them? Do you have other options available?
Ben -” Eternal as a show is amazing, Cam and Ben are good guys and great promoters I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had with them. The only problem is the featherweights in Australia. The majority of them just want to pad their records with easy fights and then start tagging Dana White in Instagram posts. It’s stupid. When borders reopen I would love to go back and fight there as long as there are some opponents, ideally there champion. Outside of Australia and New Zealand, I can fight for other promotions and I’d like to stay as active as possible, hopefully, Full metal dojo in Bangkok will have some shows soon too. “
You made your pro debut against another English man and got the win. How was that experience for you as you kept it relatively quiet leading up to the fight?
Ben -” Yeah it’s quite funny, I made my pro debut in Bangkok but it ended up being against another English person. The experience was amazing, to be honest, FMD put on crazy shows, and although I didn’t get to throw one I’d always wanted to fight with soccer kicks. When I won it was like a huge weight was lifted, I didn’t really train because of my health the last year I had been in England and had lost my last 2 amateur fights. Winning reaffirmed that leaving to live in Phuket a year earlier had been worth it and that I could still do it. It was even better than it was over a tough opponent and the boxing coach at a rival gym in Bangkok. “
What’s next for you what are your ambitions going forward?
Ben -” Going forward I think I just want the same thing as every fighter right now, just the opportunity to fight. It’s been difficult to get MMA fights here at times and I’ve missed probably a few years with injuries and now COVID. I feel healthy and like I’m really starting to mature and find my style now, I just need to show it haha.
Thank you Phuket Top Team, Progress Jiu-Jitsu, my coaches and training partners, and you James for the interview. “
Make sure to support Ben’s career by following his social media. Links below.
Instagram – benroyle145
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!