A Singleton teenager has brought home a gold medal for Muay Thai after representing Australia at the Arafura Games.
Damon Nelson began Muay Thai at a competitive level when he was 14 years old, winning both state and Australian titles while he was still in high school.
“It was pretty exciting, because you know that it’s going somewhere,” says Damon.
“It was kind of like everyone knew me as the kid who did Muay Thai.”
Now 19 years old, Damon averages about five fights a year, and fits in a weekly 12-15 hours of training around his work schedule.
“With Muay Thai, you train for at least six weeks leading up to a fight, so then all this preparation and hard work that you put in it means a lot,” says Damon.
“When you do you get the win, it’s a lot more rewarding.”
Damon has been training under his father and fellow Muay Thai kickboxer, Andrew Nelson, from the age of nine, but took mainstream classes for years before that.
Andrew wanted Damon and his siblings to begin in a class where they would not have personal ties to their teacher.
“Humility is really important in our sport, so I think if they start with the wrong attitude, they’re not going to go as far as they possibly could,” says Andrew.
“They start out with the right attitude, they have to work hard, and they’ve kept doing it.. I think we’ll see him win a world title one day, it’s just a matter of when.”
Muay Thai received provisional recognition to become an Olympic sport in 2016, and Damon hopes to one day represent Australia.
Damon is currently training for the 2019 World Championships in July, where he will be traveling to Bangkok to represent Australia.