John Wayne Parr Interview
Today we talk to a legend of Muay Thai, a former 10-time World Champion, a fighter called Best Farang Fighter of the year – John Wayne Parr aka The Gunslinger.
You began training in Taekwondo at the age of 11, why this style and do you remember your first day at Dojang?
I wanted to do martial arts from the time I could walk. The only problem was I lived on farms and was isolated until I was 11yo before we finally moved to the city. Wasn’t long before we realised there was a martial arts school walking distance from my house. Soon as I did my first class I knew this is what I would be doing the rest of my life.
At the age of sixteen, you started training with Blair Moore, one of Queensland’s premier promoters of Muay Thai. How did you meet him and what was the goal?
Growing up I went to 11 different schools. Every time we moved our first job was to find a martial arts school as that was my only happy place to keep me sane. Mum picked you the magazine and Blair’s gym was the closest to home again (still 30min drive). Blair was not only a trainer but one of the biggest promoters at the time giving me an opportunity to fight on the undercard of some massive shows.
When you moved to Thailand you trained with legendary Thai fighter Sangtien Noi aka Deadly Kisser. What was the difference in training with a legend and what have you learned from him?
After my second fight in Thailand, I jumped on a bus and travelled to Bangkok to Pattaya for a holiday. When I returned all the other fighters had run away to keep safe from the main trainer. With no one in the camp beside myself, I ended up becoming SANGTIEN’s sparring partner and clinching partner. I had to get as strong as I could as fast as I could just to survive the training sessions. I also need to win my fights as the camp got 50% of my prize money and need my money to feed and pay all the bills.
You spent many years in Thailand, what was the hardest part of staying in an Asian country when you are young?
In the morning we trained 3 hours, afternoon 3.5 hours. Every day you are expected to train harder than the day before. Same times we would train 7 days a week with my days off for months at a time only testing after our fights. I was burnt out, but you must do as your told when living in a camp so had to keep pushing through.
Do you remember the day when you were called Best Farang Fighter of the year? What was the feeling?
Yes, end of 1997. That year I had 9 fights fighting at Lumpinee stadium 3x, international stadium twice, the kings birthday, plus was lucky to make the front page of Muay Siam magazine twice.
At age 23 you moved back to Australia where you open your training facility named Boonchu Gym. Was it hard to open and run a training club in Australia at this age?
It was a little difficult as I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t understand how to run classes or teach private lessons. I used the old theory “fake it until you make it” and somehow I pulled it off haha.
In 2001 you decided to build your second career in Boxing. Ws it hard to switch off your legs and fight using hands only? Which fight was the hardest during your boxing career?
Fighting against the Thais my hands had always been my advantage. 1998 I came back to Australia for a few weeks to visit my parents. On 5 days notice, I was asked if I wanted a 4 round boxing fight for $800 where I won 2nd round knock out. 2 weeks later I was asked later notice if I wanted to box again on a few days notice winning by 1st round knockout. That gave me some pocket money to go back to Thailand.
Wasn’t until 2001 that I thought the grass was greener boxing and could make more money and get more famous boxing. It was fun for a year and got to have most of my boxing fights live on tv. But I missed the excitement of muay and decided to come back again.
In 2004 you participated in the K-1 tournament in Japan. Not many know about K-1, could you please tell me what was the difference in comparison with UFC?
K-1 was the biggest stand up striking promotion in the world drawing crowds of 40,000 to the stadium with a tv audience in japan of 20 million. Was such an amazing company to fight for as the Japanese fans are seriously the greatest in the world.
In October 2016 John Wayne Parr signed a three-fight deal with Bellator, which fight was the most memorable?
I only had 4 fights for the company. My 2 fights in Italy for Bellator I won by KO. I also had the chance to fight in Budapest and Japan for Bellator where I and the fans clearly thought I won but had the judges rob me of my wins.
Looking back, with 10 World Champion titles, what was the hardest title you get?
It’s always tough fighting the Thais. 4 of my 10 world titles were against Thais and always push you as hard as they can until the final bell.
What is next for John Wayne Parr?
I recently signed a 6 fight deal with One Championship. Hopefully, once this virus disappears we can get back to the world and start travelling again collecting souls overseas.
Can you name your favourite champions?