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Graham Vs Eddie Forbes


By Ron Simpson

On Saturday March 3rd, in a tournament promoted by Wossobama Gym in Ayr, a 44-year-old Muay Thai fighter made his comeback after three years out of the ring – and, oddly, only seven years after his ring debut. His name is Graham Borland and he lost (pretty convincingly) to Eddie Forbes. In his own words, he ‘was never the most natural’ in terms of Muay Thai skills and his career record so far (he hasn’t called time on his comeback) is an unexceptional three wins, three defeats, but his story is a great example of what Muay Thai can mean to people. is as proud to have Graham as a devoted customer as it is of the big names who wear Hero shorts – and it’s nice, when we rightly give so much encouragement to the young, to spotlight a veteran whose enthusiasm is still infectious.


Graham began training in Muay Thai at the age of 27 and originally it was not with the intention of fighting, simply to give a motivation for training. He had always kept fit by going to the gym and using weights and moved to Muay Thai when one of his instructors started a class – the fact that Graham’s partner, Debbie, attended for the first two years must have helped! ‘Most of the people at the gym, including me,’ he remembers, ‘just trained and never thought of fighting.’ He sees Muay Thai as very much a personal challenge, more (I suspect) than the challenge posed by your opponent: ‘I really like the idea of encouraging everyone to get involved and challenge themselves and Muay Thai can be what you wish it to be for you.’


It was only when his trainer, Alan Currie, decided to promote a show in 2005 that Graham decided to fight competitively. Hard training, including personal lessons with Wossabama’s best fighter/instructor Ally Smith which he claims were harder than any fight, paid off with a first round win. Ernie Weir was stopped after two standing counts.


His second fight also finished early, but less successfully when the doctor decided that a two-inch gash on Graham’s shinbone was too bad for him to continue. A sad postscript to this fight shows that for Graham results aren’t everything: ‘I always wanted a re-match, but, as the guy, Mike Strachan, had gone to do his training to become an officer in the Marine I was unable to get one. Years later I heard the sad news that Captain Mike Strachan had been involved in a fatal car crash. I’m glad that we never had a re-match and that Mike got the victory that day.’


Graham’s third and fourth fights also illustrate his belief that it’s not just about beating the other guy. Two hard-fought bouts with Stuart Henderson ended in one victory each and a mutual decision that they were now such good friends that it would be wrong to fight again! In fact for two years Graham didn’t fight anyone, then at the age of 41 he again put himself through the gruelling personal lessons with Ally Smith and succeeded in knocking out Ronnie Andreucci in the 5th round.


And that was it until this year. Graham’s habit of setting himself personal challenges surfaced again when Alan Currie started planning his biggest show ever, complete with 4-man tournament at 80kg. Graham, who had been missing the camaraderie of the gym anyway, decided he wanted to be a part of that even though he had never previously fought below 85kg. ‘This was a perfect opportunity for me to get back to serious training and to challenge myself,’ was his typical reasoning. Unfortunately the plan to bring two Dutch fighters to join Graham and another Wossabama fighter fell through when there were three pull-outs! Undeterred, Graham agreed to a match with Eddie Forbes. According to Graham, a fast hard fight against a strong opponent turned when he ran out of steam in the last round, the result of his long lay-off, not age, he insists. Despite taking two standing counts Graham was determined not to be counted out and successfully reached the final bell to lose on points.


And what now? Some five days after the fight Graham was still unable to say whether that really is the end of his ring career. Typically it’s because of the challenge of the personal best that he would like to fight again: ‘my brain has not quite accepted that that is my best – I know I have more to give. Everyone keeps telling me that my fight was great and I showed massive heart and spirit, but maybe I need saving from myself, so we’ll see what happens next.’


What is certain, though, is that, after training more on his own for the last three years, Graham is going to become much more involved with Wossabama, ‘a great place to train, with some very good fighters, trainers and friends’.


Graham says of buying from Billionmore that Jini and Kim made the process of buying shorts a wonderful experience, but he is equally drawn by the name of the product: ‘I love that the badge on the back of the shorts says Hero. The difference between a hero and coward is that the hero has the courage to go for it.’


By that definition Graham Borland is certainly a hero, but his summary of his own achievements is rather more modest:

 ‘I was never the most gifted, but I have worked hard and I have been able to compete.’



Last modified : 10 May 2012 - 10:30 PM (GMT+7:00)

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