The fight draws close. There is little left to do but to step on a scale, to demonstrate that the body is nothing but the fight. The signs will be clear, dehydration, taut skin, sunken faces, the starvation for ring violence. After the weigh ins it – a quiet, long lull, full of anticipation, and for some anxiety… and then, finally… five rounds, three minutes each- a decision or a knock out. Yet I still ask myself who is Kevin Ross? What is it that drives him? What has led him here? What enables him?
At this point Kevin will just act.
Others speak for him.
The first time I met Kevin. He had just fought Tetsuya Yamato. He had a red Mohawk and more tattoos than I had ever seen on a person. I told my sister, “He is kinda scary.” But when I finally met him he had a soft voice and seemed a lot gentler than he appeared. Kevin still scares me from time to time, but it is mostly when he is hitting pads. –Stephanie Frausto, MMA/Muay Thai fighter
Kevin was a sickly newborn. He had severe jaundice and unrelenting colic. The first few days of his life were in an incubator under special lights. He cried so much as a baby that no one could handle babysitting him. After his colic cleared, he became a happy and fun baby. Everyone loved him! He had the biggest smile especially when people said, “hi” to him. –Tracy Weiss, Kevin’s Mother
He played hockey. He was that guy that would go balls out as fast as he could but then couldn’t stop and would always smash into the side wall with a huge crash, every time… I mean, like, EVERY time. Knocked his tooth out once. Didn’t get it replaced for months. I think he open mouth smiled a little extra those couple months that tooth was missing. –Gina Carano, Actress, Muay Thai fighter
Initially, like most people I assume…I was intrigued by his look, it’s obviously very unique all the time; very bright multi colored hair, a mohawk, tattoos. It was a very interesting contradiction for an American fighting in a very traditional sport it is probably why Kevin’s Wai Kru Picture has become such an iconic image around the world…the clash of cultures but in a very organic way. – Kirian Fitzgibbons, Head Coach of CSA
I met him at a party I was having at my mom’s house while she was out of town. I was 19 and he was 21. He had black hair that did whatever the hell it wanted and that usually chose to stand straight up. He wore really baggy pants and white tank tops. He was skinny, with a six-pack. Just naturally blessed that way. –Gina Carano, Actress, Muay Thai Fighter
Kevin has abs you can wash clothes on. If I had some of those, I’d wash clothes all day. –Stephanie Frausto, MMA/Muay Thai Fighter
He’s Stubborn, he will make fights harder then they have to be just to put on exciting fights, if you tell him not to do something he will do it anyway just to prove he can.But that’s who Kevin is and he will never change…but the losses to Sagetdao and Yamato were avoidable if he wasn’t so stubborn. He would rather lose and exciting fight, then win a boring one, how can you not respect that? –Kirian Fitzgibbons Head Coach of CSA
Everything he picks up he’s really good at and when you’re competitive it makes it frustrating to know there’s a 90% chance at anything you do together he’s gonna be better than you at it. On the flip side it also makes everything challenging with him so it keeps it fun. –Chaz Mulkey, sparring partner, trainer at Syndicate MMA
There are so, so, so many great memories that I’ve had. When he fought Freddy Medrano, Freddy jumped knee’d Kevin OUTA nowhere and knocked him down big time! I tried to ice his head down so he could catch some snap in between rounds. He was rocked! Then Kevin’s heart showed up and he went on a Muay Thai rampage and won the fight!! –Mark Beecher Muay Thai Trainer
My least favorite thing about Kevin is how much of a perfectionist he is when it comes to the sport. He never gives himself enough credit and always feels he can do better or be faster or work harder. It annoys me how much he doesn’t see how hard he works or how he doesn’t give himself enough credit for the amazing things he has accomplished. – Jackie Perez, Crossfit trainer at CSA
Kevin loves food, I think more than he loves Muay Thai. During K1 in Los Angeles we went back to the hotel room and in the corner was Kevin Ross really enjoying his In-n-Out. By himself alone. I walked up to him and took one of his fries. He gave me a dirty look like, “touch my food again and I will kill you!” I ate the fry. It tasted amazing and I told Kevin, “Hey, give me another one.”
He looked me dead in the eye and said, ” NO!”
When we are not in camp our hangouts consist of food and tapioca milk teas, in camp we make healthy meals (for example protein pancakes which are whey protein, eggs, almond milk, a few almonds, chia seeds, banana, vanilla extract then we add sunbutter because Kevin is allergic to peanut butter) and watch glory and ufc fights. It’s great to surround yourself with positive people who share your passion. –Gaston Bolanos, Sparring Partner
Kevin’s determination and love for cookies showed loud and clear when he was two years old. I didn’t give my kids sugar. He had his first cookie at his grandmother’s house at Christmas time. After we’d returned home to Rochester, he would not stop asking for cookies but we did not give them to him. One evening, he would not eat his dinner. No matter how many different ways I tried to get him to eat, he refused saying, “I WANT A COOKIE!!” He went to bed without eating. The next day he refused to eat and continued to shout for cookies. I would not give in so he went to bed hungry again. The next day after he refused to eat breakfast and lunch and was still yelling for cookies, I called my pediatrician asking what to do. He said, “He’ll eat when he’s hungry enough. Don’t give in.” The next day, he refused to eat. Finally on the morning of the fourth day, he finally ate his breakfast. –Tracy Weiss, Kevin’s Mother
Well of course we enjoy food that’s a gimme. He’s fat at heart while I’m fat at the body. –Eddie Abasolo, Sparring Partner
What do I like to do with Kevin? Nothing. That’s the best part of our relationship. We can sit on the couch watch tv, hang out and not really do or say anything and its not uncomfortable. Most people feel like they have to talk when other people are around but Kevin gets it. He’s just like me in the sense that we can sit for hours and not say much and just enjoy the company of a friend. You don’t find that often. –Chaz Mulkey, Sparring Partner, Trainer at Syndicate MMA
Kevin and I go donate at a food pantry here every single month. He donates all he can, even the shirt off his back because he knows someone else will need it more. I think to myself, you’re going to give that away? Looking at an awesome new shirt he’s barely worn and he says, “I have so much crap, I don’t need it.” – Jackie Perez, Crossfit Trainer at CSA
When I look at him, he glows, kind of like a pregnant lady does when she’s creating a miracle in her belly, maybe he has that same shimmer cause he’s constantly creating miracles with his life. – Gina Carano, Actress, Muay Thai fighter
Kevin’s fighting style says so much about his personality – He is real. He is passionate. He is talented and smart. He is a true artist. He has flaws. He is human. He loves and gives back to those who love and support him. –Christine Toledo, Vice President of Lion Fight Promotions
This article is the 4th part of a series leading up to Ross’ rematch at Pechanga Casino on March 27th. For more info check out Lion Fight Promotion and make sure to check in here again next week for the next installment.
Thanks to Dale Shirley for his photos. More of his work can be seen on Muay Thaimes.