Ramadan’s coming up, so that puts me out of action for a while.
After my last fight, a second round TKO win at #EFC 58, I was really fired up, and I tried to get another fight immediately, back-to-back because I was on a roll. I also wanted to get in another fight before Ramadan, but when no one took the fight, I returned to New Zealand from South Africa.
Ramadan is more of a time of spiritual reflection, a time of sacrifice, a time of sharing and giving. It’s a good time for me; you can call it a self-imposed hiatus, but I don’t really take time off from training.
I still train during Ramadan, but at a lower intensity. I do change my training times during Ramadan; it’s also a good time to reset and and allow some small nagging injuries and niggles to heal themselves. The decreased intensity allows me more time to focus on my spiritual side. It’s just about finding your balance.
During the years that I’ve fought for EFC and #RUFFChina, the promotions where I’ve spent the bulk of my career, both promoters were very understanding and very accepting of the fact that I choose not to fight during this time. I’ve never been put in a difficult situation by any promoters, but I have fought during Ramadan before. It was a personal decision, not because anybody put pressure on me, and years later, I realize how silly it was to put my body through that.
As you grow up and mature, you realize where your boundaries and limits are, and where your priorities lie. When I was younger, I just wanted to fight and get in there and grit it out.
Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I lost the fights I took during Ramadan. It’s probably because I didn’t train properly and went in with bad training camps, but I’ve kind of grown up a little bit, I’ve matured, and I made the decision not to do it any more.
A big facet of Ramadan is the fast from sunrise to sundown. Because of my fighting career and my background, it’s really easy to fast; it doesn’t faze me, it doesn’t bother me at all. Cutting weight for a fight is a lot harder. Fasting during Ramadan just gives you an understanding of what other people feel like almost every day.
There’s a lot of people who don’t have access to drinking water. Not all people can open up the fridge and there’s food in it. So we are very blessed to have all these things, and it’s just a time for us to realize how lucky we are.
Beyond the fast, it’s not only about not putting food in your mouth, but realizing what comes out of your mouth. I have to represent my religion. Each one of us needs to be an ambassador, so being conscious of what’s comes out of your mouth is just as important as being conscious of not eating and putting things in. I think that’s an accurate description of what it’s about.
Ultimately, Ramadan is about balance. It’s an important time for me to recover, recoup, and start fresh, and find that balance between family life, competition, training, and spiritual life.