The Mind of John Wayne Parr
By Frank Curreri
What makes 10-time world champion John Wayne Parr tick?
I recently interviewed the international kickboxing and Muay Thai sensation, whose fighting brilliance has inspired rave reviews from legions of fans and MMA royalty such as Georges St. Pierre and Joe Rogan. The Blitzkrieg-minded Aussie collides with Cosmo Alexandre in a Muay Thai rules “rubber match” in the Lion Fight 25 main event. The vacant Lion Fight super middleweight title (167 pounds) will be at stake during the Oct. 23 clash.
What are you impressions of Cosmo Alexandre as a fighter and what do you have to do to beat him?
Our third fight will be action-packed. I won the first fight and Cosmo won the second. We both want to prove a point in this third fight so I guarantee we won’t be leaving anything in the tank.
Cosmo is a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for him. He is huge for the weight class and has very strong Thai technique so I have to bring my A-game if I plan to win.
Fighters age differently. At 39 years young, are you the best you’ve ever been? Tell us about the challenges and advantages of living inside a 39-year-old body that has logged well over 100 pro fights.
Haha, thank you. I know I’m 39 but I don’t feel any different than when I was in my late twenties. My training hasn’t changed and I push myself just as hard as I have for the last 20 years. My one goal is to win, so between good cardio and my fight experience I can beat anyone on the planet on a good day.
You turned pro at age 16. What do you say to non-fighters who hear that and think, “That’s too young for someone to fight grown men professionally.”
Experience is the only way to become a good fighter. I was lucky to start training and fighting early, which gave me an advantage. When I reached my late teens I was already fighting men. By the time I was 20 years old I was already fighting against Orono, who has had over 300 fights in Thailand. If I waited until later in life I would have missed that opportunity and would of still been fighting in pads (amateurs).
What do you like most about being Australian?
Good question. I have been lucky to fight all over the world. And no matter how amazing those countries are there is nothing like coming back home to Australia; I live 10 minutes from the beach and the weather is perfect year-round. We live on a beautiful island away from the rest of the world. The only thing we have to worry about is making sure we wear sunscreen in summer.
If you could only choose one, which moment of your professional life stands as the greatest memory and most jubilant feeling and why?
I would have to say winning the S-1 tournament at Rajadumdern stadium in Bangkok. I was lucky to win a world title, one million baht and a trophy from the prime minister of Thailand live on Thai TV. After living in Thailand 5 years, winning the S-1 was securing my legacy as one of the top westerners behind Ramon Dekkers.
Every person has a “code” that they live by. What is the code that governs you, your decisions, how you treat people? Who taught you that code?
My code is easy, just be happy. I’m a glass is half full type of guy. I learnt a lot about being a man and a fighter growing up with Thais and the respect they showed one another. It’s hard to walk around like you’re a superstar in this sport because you are only as good a your last fight. I’m happy when I win, devastated when I lose. But the majority of the time I’m just happy I get the chance to live the lifestyle of a Thaiboxer.
Which historical figures inspire you most and why?
Ramon Dekkers has been an idol of mine since late teens. He proved to the world that Thais were beatable and that to be remembered you always had to fight exciting. Whenever there was a time I didn’t think I could go on, I would just ask myself “What would Ramon do”?
I also have a lot of Thais that I admire. But Ramon will always be the king for me.
The name “John” Wayne Parr that the Thais gave to you … did you legally have your name changed in Australia to “John Wayne Parr”? If so, tell us about that process?
Haha, no, it’s just my fight name. It’s fun to have an alia because when fans come up to me on the street and call me John I know they only know me from fighting. When I’m called Wayne it gets more awkward because I have to try and figure out if I know this person or not.
Do you think having the name John Wayne Parr, similar to the Hollywood cowboy movie icon, has boosted your popularity and made you even more memorable to fight fans?
It makes it easier for people to remember my name when they first hear it. But if I wasn’t winning fights it wouldn’t matter what my name was.
You are a very aggressive fighter who hunts for the knockout. What produced this finisher mindset in you?
I remember being at fight shows when I was younger and nothing compares to watching somebody win by knockout. I love nothing more than hearing the noise and excitement from the crowd when a fighter wins inside the distance, so I made it my goal not just to try and win, but to give the crowd the rush so they get their monies worth.
What does your fighting style say about you as a person, your values, your fears, your courage, your risk-taking?
My fighting style is aggressive and a take-no-prisoners sort of attitude. For me winning is everything — for my prize money, for my family, for future opportunities on other fight shows. If I want to be successful in life, I must beat every opponent in front of me.
What is your Inner Voice saying to you backstage before a fight?
30 minutes before I walk out it’s ‘Switch-On’ time. I have to find that person deep inside me that is angry and wants to hurt people. That’s the guy that feels no pain once the bell rings and won’t stop until the job is done.
What is your Inner Voice saying to you during a fight?
That’s a strange one. To tell you the truth it’s almost like being in a trance. You hear nothing, see nothing, you know you are fighting but purely running on instinct and muscle memory. When the final bell sounds all of a sudden things come into focus again. That’s why it’s so hard to retire, because there is no greater rush than being in that trance.