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Here is another article I wrote for the Bangkok Trader. My previous article for the Trader was about the state of Muay Thai in Thailand. I haven’t been in contact lately so I don’t know where they are with filming… The promo they shot for the show looks amazing. I hope they get their shit together because I would really love to watch this.
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“The Contender Thailand”: Go Big or Go Home.
In the reality television show “The Contender”, the sixteen fighters are divided into two groups. They stay in these groups and compete for the privilege of matching fighters. The weekly team-based challenges are often set up to see how well the teams can work together. Teams almost always lose challenges when the cohesion breaks down.
The winning team gets to choose who one of their fighters will go up against in that evenings fight. Both groups train together communally. This is unique in that fighters don’t usually get the opportunity to see their opponents train. In this short time, they are able to assess each others strengths and weaknesses. The idea is that they will attempt to pair their strongest fighter with the opposing team’s perceived weakest fighter, at least that’s the idea.
We cut to the first episode of the show, where the winning team is debating on who they will select to fight. During the deliberations, a soft spoken boxer by the name of Alfonso Gomez speaks up “I’m a gambler,” he chooses the fighter Peter Manfredo. Manfredo is considered the strongest fighter in the house. His team mates fall silent: they are trying to tell him as politely as possible that he doesn’t stand a chance against Manfredo. The team is apprehensive because, as they point out, he’s a 10-2 fighter, compared to Manfredo’s perfect 21-0 record. Gomez replies: “”I’m not worried about the competition…It’s just a matter of who wants it most, and I want it more than anything in the world.”
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Meet Alfonso Gomez, the host of “The Contender Thailand”. Gomez was born in Guadalajara Mexico, October 28, 1980. He originally began boxing as self-defense from the school yard bullies. His trainers recognized his natural talent, and he had his first fight six months later. In his 10 years of Amateur boxing, Gomez has built an impressive 80-10 record. His current professional record stands at 10-2-1. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Gomez in the coming months.
I was fortunate enough to get a moment of Gomez’s time.
MMT: How has being on “The Contender” changed your life?
AG: Well, to begin with I wouldn’t be having this interview =) But seriously, it has been life altering in many way. Economically it has given my family and I the opportunity to purchase a home and live more comfortably than we were a few years back when we used to live in a one bedroom apartment. Also, it has opened a lot of doors in the industry which is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of celebrities and also I’ve had the pleasure to feel like a celebrity when I do autograph signings, speeches, promotions, shows, etc… I’ve taken more responsibilities as a person with work, and at the same time I’ve taken on the responsibility to prove that coming from Mexico with nothing but a dream is possible to achieve it. I’ve been blessed, and now I’m taking on a new journey that I’m sure will open more door for me in Asia and Europe.
MMT: Are you aware that a Thai Boxing version of “The Contender” is about to begin production in Thailand? What would your advice be to the contenders in this new series?
AG: I was in Thailand for 2 weeks before Christmas shooting the title of the show. I can honestly say that aside from Mexico, Thailand is my second favorite place to be at. The people are so courteous, humble, and friendly. The food is exquisite. The ambient is fast passed but at the same time people give you space to relax and enjoy yourself. Also, I’ve met great people and became friends with a lot of them that hopefully these friendships can last for a long time. Now back to The Contender: The only advice I can give this guys is that it doesn’t matter if they win or lose, eventually 15 will lose, what matters is how they present themselves, their determination, their will to continue when they are down, how much they bleed and cry for their families, their humbleness at the end of a war, their beliefs in themselves as fighters. That’s what people remember, that’s what turns viewers into fans, and fighters into idols. It is how much you are willing to give in order to prevail.
MMT: Every article I’ve read about you speaks about your determination to be a champion and your record of beating guys who are much bigger than you. Do you still have the same intensity you had during the filming of “The Contender”?
AG: I believe I still have the same determination I did before filming “The Contender.” My determination didn’t come out because there was a camera in front of me, I was born with the will to be great and through out the years it was nurtured with my parents support. That same determination I put in the ring, I want to incorporate it to other dreams, like acting, writing, hosting, announcing, etc…. I believe I have the intensity I have for boxing when I host “The Contender – Muay Thai.” I will be prepared and plan to give the fans the same performance as a host as I do when I fight.
MMT: What was it like living with 15 other guys you’re competing against?
AG: For me it wasn’t too difficult live with the other fighters of the show. It was nerve wracking watching some of the guys fight after you became friends with them. But fighting against them wasn’t difficult at all. When I go up in the ring to fight a friend, enemy, brother, or what ever, I go in there with the mentality of an athlete and not of a killer. That’s why after every bout I hug my opponent and thank him for his performance in the ring with me.
MMT: What are your plans for the future?
AG: As of now, I’m training for an upcoming fight or two before heading to Thailand to begin filming “The Contender – Muay Thai.” During my stay there I plan to continue training during my spare time and eventually after finishing filming I will head back to USA and continue my boxing career. I hope that hosting this show will open other doors for me to host or appear in television or movies, which is a long sought dream since I was a boy, but I definitely will continue fighting in my quest to become World Champion some day.