A quick look at the credentials of Lee Coville, who returns to Muay Thai action this weekend at Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, and it would be easy to classify him a rising star.
His hard work has resulted in a half-dozen championship belts and he’s notched 49 victories in his 59 fight professional Muay Thai career. Last month in England, Coville earned another British title at 59 kg., using his familiar aggressive style, heavy on hand combinations and low kicks, to earn a unanimous decision over Mark Brown.
Unfortunately, the English Thai Boxing champion remains toiling in obscurity — spending his days laboring at construction sites in the Cambridge area.
“There’s not a lot of money in it to be honest with you,” Coville relates about his passion for Muay Thai. “So yeah, I have to sort of work in England and save up my money and try and fund myself, really. I don’t have any sponsorships or anything, so spend most of my days working at the building site, and at the end of the day I have to go down to the gym, doing my training.”
“That’s what I had to do at this last fight in the UK, which obviously isn’t ideal,” he explains. “That’s why I try to save my money and get back to Thailand, where at least I can train sort of full time, twice a day, six to eight hours a day six days a week. You need to be doing that really, to compete with the other guys who are training in Thailand full time, that way you’re not at a disadvantage so to speak. Pretty hard life, really!”
Speaking to this fighter recalls the bitter play-by-play commentary of ESPN2’s Bob Papa during the 2001 fight of the year in boxing, between Micky Ward and Emmanuel Augustus Burton. Aware of the sadly low profile and pay of the two combatants, who were offering fans more heart and soul than any other bout that year, Papa yelled as the bout progressed, “would someone get these guys a payday!”
Total-MMA caught up with Coville as he prepares for his bout in Lumpinee stadium in Bangkok this weekend — after which he will begin training for his sixth professional MMA bout next month.
So, maybe that day — the big payday, like the one that rocketed Ward off the construction sites of his native Lowell, MA and onto the world stage — is coming, and hopefully soon.
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