WAYNE PARR –
the Great Muay Thai Champion
© Marc Wickert
Wayne Parr knew he was born to fight the moment he saw Karate Kid on the big screen. His career commenced unofficially in the NSW town of Albury at eight years, with young Wayne imitating his TV heroes’ moves. Parr’s persistence eventually paid off, and Wayne’s parents enrolled him in Tae Kwon Do classes at eleven years, after the family moved to Brisbane.
"From the first day I loved it. I went in a few competitions and did pretty well. I got up to yellow belt, two stripe, and I thought this was what I was going to do. But the TKD classes finished up because the instructors couldn’t meet the rent. And six months later, kickboxing moved into the same hall. So I started kickboxing at twelve years," says Parr.
Wayne’s parents were horse trainers, and their line of work required them to relocate frequently. When he was fourteen, the family moved to Richmond, NSW, with Parr having his first kickboxing fight at the Marconi Club, under the old rules of an eight-kick count. Although Wayne lost the fight on points, he loved the experience, and says he was addicted to the sport from then on.
"I wanted to get back in the ring to get as much experience as possible, but my Mum and Dad moved again, this time to Melbourne. Unfortunately, due to the Victorian state laws, I couldn’t fight until I reached age eighteen. I lived in no-man’s-land for a year, and then, at the age of sixteen, we moved back up to Queensland. There, it was all Muay Thai boxing, so I had my first fight with knees employed as part of the striking tactics. I fought one of the Briggs students, which was pretty terrifying, because they were always in the fight magazines."
Despite the odds, Wayne went on to win his first Muay Thai fight, later progressing to win the WKA Australian title against Mark Pease, after stopping Pease in the second round with a head-kick. At seventeen, Wayne Parr was Australian Super Lightweight Champion.
"I then fought a Japanese fighter at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, and stopped him in the third round. At nineteen, I fought for the South Pacific Title, got put down with a leg kick in round two, and got an eight count. I came back, and in round five, knocked my opponent out with ten seconds of the fight remaining."
After adding the South Pacific Title to his credit, Parr moved to Thailand to further his career. Sponsored by Richard Vell and Jim Gloftis, the ‘tour of duty’ was originally planned for six months’ duration. During his stay, Wayne won all five fights against the Thais - three through knockout. But after returning to Australia, Parr was invited back by the Thais, who said he showed great potential.
"This time I stayed a full year, winning another four straight fights. I then progressed to the A-grade circuit, where I suffered a few losses, before working my way up to being voted the strongest foreigner by the Thais, and being the only westerner to make the front page of Muay Siam (Thailand’s top selling Muay Thai magazine)."
Wayne returned to Australia for Christmas, but was contacted again by the Thai camp who wanted him to fight in Japan. He was now on the international circuit, fighting the best fighters the world had to offer. Parr’s busy schedule saw him competing on two Japanese cards and six Thailand bouts that year, before suffering a shin infection and returning to Australia to recuperate. During that time, Parr’s sponsors, Richard Vell and Jim Gloftis, set up a gym for him at Mermaid Beach, where he still instructs other fighters as well as tending to his own training.
"In 1999 I went back to Thailand for the King’s birthday, where they have a big Muay Thai festival, which is by invitation only, and where twelve of the world’s best fighters compete against Thailand’s best twelve fighters. On that night, I was the only non-Thai to win, and was invited back for 2000. I fought a guy called Orono, who I ‘d previously fought in ’97. The first time we met, the fight was stopped due to a cut to my eyebrow, which required 21 stitches.
"At the rematch for the King’s birthday in 2000, we fought before a crowd of one hundred thousand people, and this time I beat Orono for his IMF world middleweight title. Orono is one of Thailand’s most famous fighters, and every time he enters the ring, the Thai crowd just goes crazy. Despite the fact that I beat their national hero, the Thais took my victory well."
Earlier in 2000, Parr defeated Scott Bannan in the second round of their battle, with a knee to the body, to earn the ISKA world middleweight title.
Wayne Parr’s world status as one of the greatest Muay Thai combatants has not come easily, with his having fought the best of the best to climb all the way to the top. And during the four years Wayne has competed in Thailand, he has lived a humble life in Thai dormitories.
" We live in a room where there’ll be ten fighters staying at the one time. We wake up each morning, run together, eat breakfast together, train together, then have a nap during the day, train together again, eat dinner and sleep that night. I wanted to be the best. I didn’t care what I had to do. I was just going to do what I had to do to be the best."
In 2001, Wayne returned for the King’s birthday yet again. He fought two fights in an hour that night, winning the first on points against a Thai, and the second fight, against the Portuguese champion, saw Parr earn another victory.
"Because I’d won my fights at the previous King’s birthday tournaments, Thailand’s number one promoter presented me with a special jacket prior to my fights in 2001. Translated, it’s called a Jacket of Honour, and I was the first westerner ever to be presented with one." Back home in Australia, Parr was busy adding the Australian middleweight boxing title to his long list of credits.
Of the sixty-one Muay Thai battles thus far in his career, Wayne has fought against twenty-seven Thais, and won a total of forty-seven bouts, with twenty-eight by KO. Also to his credit, Parr was the first Australian to fight at Bangkok’s famous Lumpinee Stadium.
In 2003, Wayne Parr has been contracted to fight in Europe. He may also be fighting in Japan this November, but confirms he will definitely be competing at Rottendam, Holland, December 6.
"I have just signed up with Super League for a fight in Holland this December, plus five fights next year in Italy, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Holland. I also have a fight in England in February. It’s just lucky I love to travel. Super League is bringing the best fighters from all over the world to compete against each other over five 3-minute rounds, with knees to the body and head allowed. Now that there are so many world champions, it will be great to see who really is the best of the best."
For more information on Wayne Parr, his fight schedule and class times: www.boonchu.com