Skills to Pay the Bills: Wes Capper

International Kickboxer Magazine, Sept/Oct 2014

Wes Capper has a lot to say about a lot of different things, but on one subject, he is unequivocal:

“I want to win a world boxing title.”

When Wes says he’s going to do something, it’s best to take him seriously. He’s always been a capable sportsman, expressing his athleticism through a range of different sports like football and rugby.

At the age of eighteen he was introduced to Muay Thai and got the opportunity to ‘throw a bit of leather’. He says: “I knew I’d found something pretty special; I wanted to dedicate my life to it for at least the next few years and find out what I could do.”

Since then, Wes has forged an outstanding career in both Muay Thai and MMA and recently turned his hand to professional boxing with a considerable degree of success. Some doubted his commitment, but Wes backed himself and struck out on his own.

“I wanted to go down a certain path and [some] people… tried to steer me a different way. Instead of creating barriers, I packed my bags and travelled to the US. I scraped together all the money I could and even borrowed money from friends. It was just me and my two bags; I didn’t even have any accommodation. I booked a one-way ticket and took off. ”

Wes started in Los Angeles and made his way to the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas.

“I was training and sparring wherever I could to pick up what I could along the way.”

Within three weeks, Wes had hit paydirt.

“I was riding from gym to gym on a pushbike, at that time.” One can only wonder if he was wearing his trademark propeller hat.

“One day, I turned up and there were about six of us waiting to spar; it was like an audition. They told three of us to go, and three to stay. Two days later, they chose me and [American] Mike Jones.”

Their eventual sparring partner was the Japanese boxer, 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist, Ryota Muratha.

“Three times a week we sparred. Then, they sent me to Japan to spar him until his pro debut.” Wes was able to rely on his previous experience with Japanese culture to cement his position. “They liked how polite and respectful I was.”

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Afterwards, Wes made his way back to the US for more training and sparring in Vegas. From there, Wes returned to Japan for more sparring with Muratha, back to the US again and then, after six months of immersion in the cauldron of the Vegas fight scene, he hit the jackpot.

“I was training at the Top Rank gym when I met Miguel Diaz. He’s a famous trainer and cutman. I [had previously] met him in Japan; he’d just come from working with Manny Pacquiao. I had a chat with him. One day, I saw him down at Top Rank gym in Vegas. He said to me that I should be sparing well that day because ‘You never know who’s watching.’

“I listened to what he said and afterwards, two guys pulled me aside. They were the owners of Pochiro Promotions. They explained they were interested in having me as a part of their team. From then on, I was training and sparring between Top Rank and Pochiro Gym. They signed me before I left.”

A promotional contract is the holy grail of the professional boxer and a difficult thing to come by.

“It’s a totally different level over there,” Wes explains. “Sure, here in Australia you train hard and you push each other, but over there, those Mexicans, they don’t have anything else and they’re willing to die in [the ring]. If you get hurt, they’re going to try and put you away.”

Wes doesn’t seem to be at any great risk so far, with a pro record of five and ‘O’. His recent opponent, Roshawn ‘Two Gunz’ McCain, was dispatched by way of TKO during the second round.

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A review of Capper’s career via youtube shows a couple of things; excursions into a breadth of disciplines, including amateur and pro boxing, Muay Thai and MMA. He is also clearly a very athletic fighter who has the ability to graft a wide array of skills and techniques into a fluid fighting style. His attitude to development is borne out by his outstanding record in all three. When asked to explain it, he puts it down to one main factor.

“The single most important thing, and the thing I’d tell any young kid wanting to develop, [is that] you have to travel around to different places and test yourself. You’ll always learn something. It’s good to be loyal, but the biggest improvements I’ve seen in myself – and others – are as a result of traveling around.”

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Prior to his American adventures, Capper had travelled to Europe to see what he could discover.

“On the plane over, I was watching all these K1 and K1 Max videos, and when I got to Amsterdam, I went to Meijiro gym. Next thing, I’m skipping and there, on the other side of the mat, is Andy Souwer skipping. I was like a five-year old kid with ‘One Direction’.

It’s enough to make anyone’s propeller spin that little bit faster.

The experience of training in Holland had a lasting effect on Capper’s fighting style and approach to preparation.

“It changed me heaps. Straight after that, I went to Thailand and trained there for a month and had a couple of fights before I left. The Dutch really are masters of that kickboxing/K1 style. They are two totally different fighting styles.”

Given Capper’s degree of success, it would be reasonable for fight fans to wonder what prompted the move from Thai to Boxing.

“I was getting a little bit burnt out,” says Wes. “I was looking for the bigger fights, but kept getting offered rematches. I was sick of fighting the same people. [Since then] I’ve really started to blossom and enjoy my boxing.”

That said, Wes is quick to contextualize his boxing within the scope of something greater.

“I won’t forget my roots [in Thai boxing] and where I made a name for myself. But people grow and change and aspire to do different things and this is the path I’m headed on now. It’s also difficult to split your energy between three different things, especially given that the caliber of guys I’m fighting now are dedicating their energies to just one thing. It’s going well at the moment; I don’t want to mess that up.”

While boxing is taking off and he has won a promotional contract, Wes still has to attend to the details of daily life. Juggling work as a plumber and training as a pro boxer must present its challenges.

“That’s a good question – I don’t know how I do if half the time. I have to sacrifice a few hours during the day to go train. My boss is really good; I wouldn’t be able to do it without his help. I’m also working a bit of security on the week-ends and teaching a bit of kid’s swim training.

“The security work is at a nice venue. I tend to keep my head down and be a good boy; I wouldn’t want to affect any opportunities I may have in the future.”

Wes seems to have his priorities in order and is making things happen, one day at a time. There’s really only one question left to answer; does he still wear the hat with the propeller?

“Don’t be asking silly questions – of course I am.”

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One Response to “Skills to Pay the Bills: Wes Capper”

  1. Keep it up 🙂 your family and Australia are always cheering for you!!

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