Leroy Beck - The Muay Thai Warrior

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  • Muay Thai Warrior
  • Leroy finds a moment of tranquility in a mosque at the Islamic Culture centre in Aarhus City
  • The mask he wears is a souvenir from South Africa, a place he's never been.
  • Pre-sparring, Leroy warms up with lunging elbow jabs into a bag
  • Leroy receives advice from a fellow fighter on his day back to training after feeling unwell the day before
  • A few days earlier Leroy takes full contact hits during a sparring match
  • 24 hours prior to the fight he must undergo a full doctor's examination
  • Having jogged home in layers of clothes and a bin liner to reduce his weight, he showers and then helps bathe his niece at his family home
  • The world title clash of significance
  • Ashley, his brother, helps Leroy with stretches in the changing-room before the fight
  • Smoke wafts from a machine to add to the atmosphere of the fighters' grand entrance
  • Psychological tension peaks as both fighters face each other from respective corners of the ring
  • Leroy pounces with an early assault
  • Brotherly advice and words of motivation as Leroy receives a torrent of blows
  • Leroy stands in defeat after a grueling encounter with the world welterweight champion
  • A young fan waits patiently to get his autograph while Leroy is being interviewed
  • Although trained to be hardened to the pummeling, eventually his limbs could take no more
  • Disappointment overwhelms the Muay Thai Warrior
  • Within the Beck brother's home, family pictures from when they were young hang on the walls


“Once I was tempted to throw it away”...

Leroy’s lean hand reaches into his loose trouser pocket and takes out his mobile. It buzzes again, he angrily pushes the button and holds the old phone to his ear. His face shows the affects of his hard daily schedule. His chosen lifestyle is one of constant endurance and perse­verance. Day in, day out he fits the world around his life’s dedication to Muay Thai.

From one day to the next Leroy fills his waking hours with activity. His mind also seems to be constantly thinking. It is not surprising to learn that he is somewhat of a technophobe. For him, technology simply adds complications to living. He is not that keen to be reachable at most times. He sets his daily schedule meticulously, prepares packed food for breakfast and lunch, works hard, trains hard and then trains even harder. Leroy doesn’t want these plans to be dis­turbed by technology. He doesn’t want to be interrupted by anyone either.

Diet regime

Early in the morning he may arrive to the kickboxing gym carrying a bag with 4 oranges, 2 apples and a bowl of nutritious spaghetti within.

“I often eat lentils and oats. I don’t eat that protein powder you can buy in shops – You know oats have all the protein you need”.

It is these chosen, natural and healthy foods that keep his body supplied with all the ingredi­ents he needs to build his strength. At the gym he may do several fitness activities to condition his body. After work he will return again. His regimen, like many devoted athletes, includes many forms of conditioning such as running, shadowboxing, skipping and body weight resis­tance exercises. On top of that, at a daily rate, he practices specific techniques to kickboxing.

A way of life

‘The Art of the Eight Limbs’, better known as ‘Muay Thai’ or ‘Thai Kickboxing’, for Leroy and many others has become a way of life. Right in the heart of Aarhus you can find the Kung Fu Toa club. Going down a few steps, as if entering an underground floor, ones senses are immersed in aro­mas of bodily odours and the distinctive smell of heat rub oils and medication for sport.

This is where Leroy, brother and fellow dedicated martial arts enthusiasts can be found most days. On any given day there are young with more older, beginners to advanced, men and women, young adults and children all entering, training and leaving. It is a community where people share one similar interest. For Leroy it provides him a haven from the outside world.

Hypnotic music

His devotion to Muay Thai started about 7 years ago and now he is 29. He visited Thailand for a competition at an early stage of his kickboxing obsession. It was after this visit that he became addicted to this full contact sport.

“When you fight in Thailand it’s not at all like here. When we train in Aarhus we don’t put Thai music on. But in Thailand they play the music just to train and its very funny”, he tells ending with his distinctive deep and loud laugh. Like in training or the ring, Leroy constantly twos and froes from being lightly humorous to being heavily serous. But he always maintains his vivacity and strength. He seems to constantly be fighting within himself. Perhaps his biggest battle is that he never wants to concede to lethargy. A characteristic prevalent in most top ath­letes and one that helps them to strive above the rest.

He goes on to say, “When I was fighting [in Thailand] I was listening to the music. It has a lot of spirit. You get hypnotized when fighting. That was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The beautiful part about it is the music. So your just working, working, working”. Leroy's mind quickly hops on to another train of thought, “Actually I hate to work…you work for food, that’s all”…and then quickly transfers to another train, “It’s like an ant hill. We were supposed to be free people”.

The calmer Ashley

Although Danish, he has mixed blood. He has roots in South Africa where his father is native and has recently repatriated. Leroy lives his own self-disciplined life yet has a close connection with his younger brother Ashley. Ashley is close in age and similar in stature. Often they have been mis­taken for one and other and both are dedicated to Muay Thai. Leroy now lives with his brother in an apartment along with his brother’s wife and young child. One evening, while cooking a spicy and deliciously smelling chicken soup, he recognises the difference between him and his brother. Talking about his brothers approach to life he tells, “There isn’t just one way to do something right, there are many ways”, and then admits, “Ashley is more calm”.

Free mind

Leroy recognises within himself that he is opinionated. He comments on many aspects of life. When he was younger his choice of study was politics, which he still maintains an interest in today. He compares other people’s approach on life as being under constant influence. Leroy questions if people really lead free lives. He wonders why people blindly act according to what society demands. For instance, why people feel the need to wear safety helmets while cycling. He, on the other hand, believes people shouldn’t be so fearful. For him to step into a ring and fight, he must remove these inhibitions related to fear.

Challenging the champion

A few days after this conversation he faced an opponent who is below none other. A young fighter from the home of Muay Thai, who, being fully professional, is able to dedicate his life in honour of his country’s national sport. With over a hundred wins compared to Leroy’s several dozen Leroy knew this match would test all of his limbs and mental strength. Leroy had spent months conditioning his body for this showdown and years climbing the ladder to get to this chance. His body fought blow for blow to challenge his adversary’s no.1 rank. The full five rounds past and both men stayed standing but with bodies badly bruised. Leroy maintained his title of Nordic Welterweight Champion but didn’t manage to shake the Worlds best from his throne.

Along with his brother and fellow club members they would spend the next few weeks at a slow­er pace than before. Christmas will pass and with the New Year, Leroy will once again dedicate his time to his fighting passion.