Richie Supa Nola
How did you start learning Muay Thai?
I walked past Philip’s gym (Lee Gar) in the 90s and heard a lot of noise coming from the inside. When I went in, I saw a bunch of Thai fighters who weren’t big, but were generating incredible power. I was 15 years old, skinny… and from that point on, I was hooked. This sport changed my life.
Did you have any experience in martial arts prior to Muay Thai?
I learned karate in a church in Parnell. I thought karate was everything… but that was before I discovered Muay Thai.
When did you start to fight?
To be honest, I didn’t even think about fighting until I was 20. My coach Phillip asked me to join a team fighting an unbeaten team from another gym. I wasn’t sure, but I love coach, so I said yes… won.
What happened after that?
I kept training, but I didn’t fight for a long time after that due to family commitments. Then in 2008 I went to train with Buakaw in Thailand, and came back and won my first title.
How did you start teaching?
Back in 2006, there were a lot of new guys coming through and because I love this sport, I wanted to help out. In those days, there were no formal classes, we just trained each other and the gym was our home.
What do you love about teaching?
I hate feeling scared, so I want to help people feel confident and safe. Even if you have no desire to fight, it may one day help you out of a bad situation.
What qualities make a good fighter?
A good fighter never complains. They are the first to arrive at training and the last to leave. They have a thirst for all the knowledge that can improve their performance – including taking positive criticism as a blessing. They know that the hard work is done not only in the gym, but also in your mind.
If you can see your goal, it is possible to reach it, no matter what anyone says. Even your coach! (laughs)
What makes a good coach?
A good coach listens to what their students wish to achieve and helps them to achieve it accordingly. Everyone is on their own journey in Muay Thai.
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who wants to be the best in this sport?
Train hard. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And when you think you have done everything possible… train harder!