Parr Power

International Kickboxer, Vol.17, no.5

John Wayne and Angie Parr juggle the commitments of kids, family life and high-profile careers as two of the nations most respected and successful fighters. What qualities make for a great family life? Are they similar to the qualities that make a great fighter? JARROD BOYLE investigates

Wayne Parr’s parents were horse trainers by trade, which meant that he was constantly moving around as a child. “I went to 11 different schools in 11 years,” he says. “My parents had to move for work, and that was what we did.” He acquired a taste for martial arts early on, and his trademark successes soon followed. His first competition was the Queensland Taekwondo championships at the age of 11, a style he had been practising for a year. He won his first two fights that day and made it into the finals. Unfortunately, he lost the decision but came away with a silver medal for his efforts. “I was stoked,” he says.

Wayne’s parents made great efforts to ensure that he was able to find a martial arts school to train with, no matter where they were. As a result, he was exposed to a variety of styles. His early trainers were accomplished martial artists themselves, and would no doubt count Parr as one of, if not the most successful of their students. While in Brisbane, Parr trained with Steve ‘Superkick’ Vick and under Blair Moore in Queensland. By the age of 18, he knew what he wanted to do with his life: Muay Thai. As a kid with a dream, he packed up and moved to Thailand, the country of origin of the sport that was his passion.

He spent a total of five years living and training in Thailand, alongside the famous ‘Deadly Kisser’, Sangtien Noi. Noi was a three-time opponent of one of Parr’s idols, Ramon Dekkers. Dekkers, of Dutch descent, was one of the first non-Thais to really make an impact on the sport and his tough-as-nails Thai opponents. Noi was chief among these. Parr trained and fought alongside him under the tutelage of respected Thai trainer, Noppachai. In 1999, the years of hard-work and sacrifice culminated in his winning the King’s Cup.

Success brought fame and opportunity, and he soon found himself as a guest trainer in the Las Vegas gym of Master Toddy. Soon after arriving, he was arrested by posters of the gym’s glamorous number-one fighter. “Angie wasn’t there, at the time,” Wayne recalls. “But she was the gym’s star, and her picture was plastered up all over the place. I found myself wondering, ‘Who is this girl?’

Angie also found her way into a career in Muay Thai through traditional martial arts. She began training in Okinawan Shojin Ryu karate at 17, and attained her black belt. It gave her an effective grounding in full-contact fighting, which she also tried her hands (and feet) at. “It was basically American Kickboxing,” she says. Once she had seen her first professional Muay Thai bout, however, she was hooked. “My parents came along to my first fight,” she recalls. Any reservations they had about their daughter’s new career choice swiftly evaporated: “They sat in the front row and totally lost it!” 

Master Toddy’s gym was the best place for her to be, and she soon took up residence in Las Vegas. Parr came in as a guest instructor, and Angie still says that of all the people she has trained with, Wayne is the most inspirational. “He’s so knowledgeable, and so experienced, you know?”

Indeed we do. She believes her best performance came at this time, against Trisha Hill at The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas. “She was ahead on points and then I dropped her in the fourth. It turned the whole fight around.”

Wayne’s and Angie’s careers have progressed side by side, like a railway track. They have both diversified their fighting into Pro boxing and MMA and along the way, have also managed to bring two children into the framework of their fighting family.

The changing fortunes of fighting are very much like the challenges of family. “It’s like a rollercoaster,” Angie says. “Right now I’m at a good stage of life, like I was at 21. Kids pull your body out of shape and it takes time to recover. Right now, I feel like I’ve made it back to prime. I’ve just had three losses; MMA, boxing and kickboxing, but I felt like I put on really good fights.” When pregnant with their first child, Jasmine, Angie stopped training at five months and then started again six weeks after she had given birth. “Kids pull your body out of shape,” she cautions, “And it takes a long time to get your body back.” She says that there are plenty of opportunities to fight however, and the obligation of an upcoming opponent is great motivation to get back in shape.   

Wayne and Angie have a great connection and have a lot of fun together. IK sat down to ask a few questions of a serious nature, and some a little more fun…

IK: What have you guys got coming up?

JWP: I’ve got the Melbourne Evolution show early October, and then back up for Queensland Evolution on November 28. Moving into next year, I’ll be fighting in Holland in March and then in Sweden in May. I’m not sure who my opponents will be yet.

AP: I’m fighting on the Evolution Melbourne show, and then in December on the Boonchu Cup. After that, I’m thinking I might take some more time off to be with the kids.   

IK: You guys are like the Brad and Angelina of the fight world, how do the kids react when they see one of you on TV or up in the ring?

JWP: They enjoy it. They spend a lot of time in the gym and at the fights. They’re just like I was as a kid when it came to horses.

AP: Jesse makes noises! Jasmine gets jealous of somebody else getting all the attention.

IK: Do you pad up and do a few rounds to sort out who’s going to do the dishes?

JWP: No, it’s my job. Angie cooks – I clean.
IK: You have both obviously trained together a lot over the years. Who has given who the biggest bruise?

JWP: I hit her on the nose one day, back in Master Toddy’s gym, and she got out of the ring crying! We haven’t done much sparring since then.
IK: If you two were to battle it out… who would win and why?

JWP: I’d smash her. I’ve got the weight, and the strength.

IK: List three things about each other beginning with the letter ‘f’…

JWP: Fun, frustrating, foxy.

AP: Funny, fatty (because he has to drop weight to fight), and friendly.
IK: Who’s the most moody when it comes to dropping weight?

JWP and AP (Simultaneously): JWP.
IK: Who would you like to see each other fight?

JWP: I’d like to see her rematch Julie Kitchen (her recent opponent at Champion of Champions 2) and train harder beforehand. I don’t think Julie’s any better; I think it was fitness that separated them.

AP: Andy Souwer. Souwer is the best.
IK: What’s the best thing about being married to a fighter?

AP: Understanding. They know what you’re going through.
IK: What’s the worst thing about being married to a fighter?

WP: There’s no down-side. It’s perfect.

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