51 Questions Segment -- A CHAMPION IS A CHAMPION!
How do you feel when many of yesterday's athletes are criticized and told they would be destroyed by today's 'standards'?
A CHAMPION IS A CHAMPION!
The other day I was on the internet looking at videos of fighters from the past. These videos allowed the viewers to contribute personal comments. Some of the comments really held merit while other comments seemingly focused on negativity rather than insightful observation.
That said, our technology of this day and age does grant instant access to information, pictures, and videos making it easier to establish comparisons between athletes of different era's. This assists athletes, coaches, and trainers alike to reframe perceptions boosting the sport and skills to a higher realm.
By looking at fighters from the past and comparing the skill set of these past champions with the fighters of today, we can see some gaps and downfalls that become glaringly apparent against the backdrop of todays priorities and values.
The Nuk Muay (MuayThai athletes) of one to two decades ago demonstrate obvious commitment to lineage style and honor resulting in deeper integrity and heart. Regardless of the specific camp from which they hailed, such commitment defined specific tactics and skills inevitably leading to greater fighting desire, and generally becoming better rounded as fighters.
While it is truly unfair to stereotype, I do most often see today's athletes play for the first three rounds and then clinch the last two. Many a MuayThai aficionado, masters, trainers, and even journalists will declare this a consensus and personally agree. The fighters of the past were there, fully engaged, in every round.
I further propose this same impasse has beset the Boxing foundation and community as well. Conversely however, I feel that MMA athletes of today are far better disciplined than they were in the last decade or two.
In addressing the keyboard commandos for whom the internet so graciously shares and preserves observations and opinions, I find comments from people including: "... Bruce Lee (Martial Arts) would not have fared well in todays MMA landscape. "...Muhammed Ali (Boxing) is over rated and could not stand with many of the fighters of last decade." Or, "... fighters like Benny Urquidez (Kickboxing) would be easily dealt with by todays fighters of the ring sports."
This equates with suggesting champions are limited by era, as if they were no more than a cast facsimile of technology.
We could use auto racing cars as an example to illustrate this point. Cars of the past could not compete with the technology of today's cars. The vehicles of yesteryear worked off of antiquated technology. Yes on the surface that appears to be a no brainer. However the era's of the past allowed for improvement to get to where we are today. But that is just technology.
A Champion or top fighter was exactly that during their era. Where I think the negative opinions lack insight and fall short (especially with fighters) is in dismissing achievements of the past and negating their skills and results. I truly feel if the playing field was level and Champions of today and those of the past had the exact same knowledge of training skills (be it present champions stepping into the past and training with the knowledge only available at that time or past Champions having access to the same skills, routines, and information of the present day, I think many people would be very surprised at the outcome of the fantasy bouts between athletes of different era's.
I feel what makes athletes (not just Champions) 'great' is reflected not in the era's training advantages such as technology vs culture but rather comes from a heart coherence seen in any proven elite as an icon, regardless of sport, rank or sanction.
The best were the best of their time and they would rise to the occasion no matter what the era, given a level playing field. Champions remain Champions and armchair critics will not be the ones remembered in the future.
Mike Miles has been involved in the Martial Arts since 1967, is 4 Time Professional World Champion, multi-time Hall of Fame inductee, fully certified instructor by the government of Thailand, Team Canada representative, author, loving father, and just an all around good guy.