Bruce ‘Preacher’ Macfie

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International Kickboxer Magazine, May/June 2015

2015 marks an auspicious year in the career of Bruce ‘Preacher’ Macfie. He has given two decades of his life to the sport of Muay Thai and intends to retire – once and for all – on a high note. He discusses a career as colourful as his hair with Jarrod Boyle.

Bruce ‘Preacher’ Macfie has long been a staple feature of the Australian Muay Thai scene. He durable and persistent, always lurking close to the top of the rankings until a sudden hiatus caused him to disappear from the limelight.

“It’s been a long road back and I did think, for a time, I wasn’t coming back [after my shoulder reconstruction]. My first fight back was quite a daunting experience; it was in Malaysia, on Evolution 27.

“I was a little tentative [in the first round] and didn’t get the chance to get going; I got dropped with a head kick. Then, I was dropped another two times with leg kicks and the ref stopped the fight before I even knew what was going on.”

One of the hallmarks of Bruce Macfie is that he isn’t one to let a loss hold him down.

“Once that was out of the way, I fought in Queensland in a four-man tournament in August. I won the final, against up-and-comer Odin “Damage” Daniels. So, I’m back!”

Bruce has seen plenty of action since his return to the squared circle.

“I defended my WKA World title in November, in Perth, against Adam Bailey. I was dropped three times in the first round because my head was elsewhere,” says Preacher. “[My cornerman] Adam King whispered some magic in the corner; I dropped [Bailey] four times after that and won by KO the second round.”

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“I also fought this year in April on THAI FIGHT in Thailand, against Antoine Pinto. The fight was stopped in the second round; I lost. I wasn’t hurt and [I felt it] was stopped prematurely.”

The Preacher remains philosophical.

“You live, you learn.”

Bruce can be described in many ways, but retiring is not one of them.

“I had a Christian upbringing and I went to a Christian private school. When I started Muay Thai I was in church youth group and my first trainer, Pops Tri-Ming, decided to call me ‘The little Preacher Boy’. Hence, ‘Preacher Boy’ and then, as time passed, ‘The Preacher’, which was shortened to ‘Preacher.’

Regardless of his education under more peaceful circumstances, the youthful Bruce experienced a powerful draw towards all things martial.

“I was never allowed to do martial arts or boxing when I was growing up,” says Bruce. “It’s something that I think most kids want to try. My best friend at the time, Jamie Peake, was training at Street Heat K6. I went to his first fight and said out loud, ‘I can do this.’

“Pretty funny looking back, as a few people actually had a laugh. So, after three weeks of training I had my first fight, which I won. I didn’t have much of an idea and I’ve actually been meaning to share the footage on FACEBOOK for a while. It’s quite amusing.”

Amusing or otherwise, one of the longest and most eventful careers in Australian Muay Thai had gotten underway.

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Bruce has been training at the Corporate Box gym, opened by Shannon ‘Shaggy’ King in 2008.

“I’ve trained alongside Shaggy since he opened in 2008. He’s been focusing on his boxing, so I’ve been part of his preparation and then support from the corner, come fight time.”

Bruce’s trainer and pad holder has long been Aaron ‘Azzatron’ Smith.

“He’s a legend. I appreciate all the time he’s invested in me. He has evolved into one of the country’s best fight trainers.”

Preacher is well-known amongst Australian fight fans as the other half of some outstanding double acts. Just as Ginger Rogers had her Fred Astaire and Jane Torvill had Christopher Dean, so too did Preacher have his JWP.

“I’ve fought Wayne Parr three times now; two wins [went] to JWP and I got the decision in the third.”

The biggest hurdle for Bruce the first time round was Parr’s reputation.

“The first fight was toughest because I was fighting, well, JWP! I was a twenty-five year old ‘kid’ and Wayne Parr was Wayne Parr. I did it tough in the lead-up to that fight with my mental preparation, which in turn affected my training.”

“The first time we met,” says Parr, “He was on a winning streak. There was a lot of pressure to make sure I didn’t lose. I split my shin during the early rounds. Every time I kicked, blood spattered his chest. There was no cut on his head; I kept thinking, “Where’s it coming from?”

Parr succeeded in knocking Preacher down twice during the third round and by that time, the tide of the fight had turned.

Parr says, “It was downhill from there.”

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The second fight played out under uncanny circumstances; Parr dropped Preacher twice during the third round of their second encounter, also.

Parr made a major impression on Macfie.

“He is the toughest fighter I know,” says Bruce. “His mindset is amazing; he never gives up and always leaves one hundred per-cent in the ring, regardless of circumstances. That’s a quality I’ve always aspired to obtain.”

Parr is equally effusive in his praise of the Preacher.

“He’s definitely one of Australia’s best middleweights. He always gets big support in Queensland. His fights are always good. If he’s fighting, I’ll go support him and cheer him on. We spent a week together on The Contender series; he’s a gentleman.

“I definitely earned my reputation as being one of [Australia’s] tougher fighters after our first two wars,” says Bruce.

Their third engagement turned out in Bruce’s favour. That said, he believes their first fight was the most exciting.

“We punched on for the whole fight.”

In addition, Bruce has fought a ‘who’s-who’ of the Australian middleweight Thai boxing division, including Soren Mongkontong, Daniel Dawson, Baris Nezif and Shannon Forrester, in addition to outstanding internationals, including Thai superstars Yodslanklai Fairtex and Wanlop Sitpholek.

“He’s good, busy,” says Soren, also a three-time engagement. “All of them were close, tough fights.”

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Their fights, as is the case with the JWP fights, were not without contention.

“The first time, I was twenty-one and he was twenty-three or twenty-four. I felt I won. That was in December of 2001.”

Their next fight was two years later and Soren turned up against doctor’s orders.

“I had really bad anaemia. The doctor told me not to fight, but I did anyway. I was a punching bag. It was a shit fight, really. I just stood there and he punched me. He won that by decision.”

The last time they met, Soren made up for the previous loss.

“It was the last fight of my career before retirement in December, 2009. I won by decision. It was a good, tough fight. I think we both cut each other. I cut him on top of head; he cut me under the eye.”

Soren emerged from their trilogy with a healthy respect.

“He’s busy; probably best with his hands. He’s got really bony legs. Bony shins, bony knees. Deep down he loves the sport; he’s a good fighter. One of Australia’s best.”

Surprisingly, neither Soren nor JWP rates amongst the toughest fights of Bruce’s career.

“They were all [tough], but the two that I’ll never forget are for different reasons. The first was against Baris Nezif, who was at that time the Turkish World Champ. We fought three times and he KOed me the first two fights in the first round. My preparation for our third fight was mentally draining, to say the least.”

Two first-round knockouts would have to weigh heavily on a fighter’s mind.

“I really struggled finding the right head space for the third fight. I was in Thailand training with Denis Brett, my trainer at that time. We did the work and I turned up to fight on the night and I won that fight convincingly.”

The other nominee for ‘toughest opposition’ suggests the formation of a pattern in Bruce’s career.

“Con Listris, from Sydney, was a power hitter. [The first fight] I was KOed in the first round. I rematched him on Scott “Cannon” Bannon’s promotion, who was also training me. I was in shape and winning the fight until Con dropped me in the third round.”

The knock-down made an impression.

“I got up and fell from one side of the ring to the other. I don’t know how I was standing. Bannon gave me his typical corner talking-to; something along the lines of, ‘Not embarrassing him on his own show and letting all the people who came to see me down.’ I dug so deep and went to war.

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“Con was going down in the next round and I was in the zone,” says Bruce. “I kneed him in the face as he was going down. This created a scene in the ring with both corners climbing in to get amongst it. Con was given about five minutes to recover and I wasn’t deducted a point – probably because it was my trainers show.”

From there on in, Bruce did what he needed to do to finish the fight and take the decision.

Also on the resume is Yodslankai, the best Thai boxer in the world at his weight. Bruce fought him on the television show The Contender: Asia in 2007.

“It was awesome experience,” he says. “At the time it was a little overwhelming, [given that] he was the best fighter on the planet.”

Bruce made good account of himself.

“He kicked the hell out of my arm but I went the distance. It wasn’t my finest fight but I was standing by the end. I learnt a valuable life lesson from the experience; it doesn’t matter who, where or why, but every opponent is just the same as me: human. I came back to Australia reinvented and fought a few weeks later on Fox Sports. Commentator Michael Schiavello dubbed me, ‘Brute’ Macfie.”

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Surely, such a nickname from esteemed commentator Schaivello is the pinnacle of Australian Muay Thai success.

Bruce has a busy year ahead of him.

“My next three fights are confirmed. On August fifteen, I’m booked for a WKA world title defence in Perth. In November, there is a second WKA World title defence, on the provision I win in August, of course, and in early 2016, I’ll have my retirement fight in Brisbane.”

Bruce intends to finish when he finishes.

“That’s my plan; it isn’t set in stone but once I retire I’m retired. I’m not coming back. There will be no come-back fights or anything like that.”

It’s unlikely Bruce will have time; his post-fighting dance card is already looking quite full.

“I love the sport that I’ve dedicated twenty years of my life to. I love teaching and I want the opportunity to pass on my knowledge from both life experience and Muay Thai.

“I’ve started ‘Preacher Elite,’ which is specialized sports coaching and personal training. I’ll be staging this from Corporate Box’s newest venture, ‘Corporate Box: Rounds’, where I will also be the head trainer. My own gym is [also] still on the cards.

“I just want to be able to give a little back to both the sport and the world, just in general.”

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