Behind the Gloves - Jesse Morrow-Wilson
Jesse Morrow-Wilson is a professional kickboxer with a 19W 5L fight record, that trains out of Tihipuke Muay Thai, in Hamilton. Morrow-Wilson is the WKBF, IKBF and TBA super middleweight champion and fought for the Super Middle Weight crown, in King in the Rings 8 man Eliminator against 7 other fighters. King in the ring the first major televised combat sport event since the lockdown, and took place at Eventfinda Stadium, in Auckland.
Morrow-Wilson began his combat sport journey reluctantly, but hasn’t looked back since he started.
“I was actually a pretty bad alcoholic and smoker, struggled with mental health issues. I think it's safe to say I wouldn't be here today if I didn't get brought into the sport. A friend (Hamza Perwaisy) managed to convince me to give it a go, and while I was unwilling, I did, and it changed my life. Gave me things to work towards, a way to better myself, somewhere I belong, it gave me a family.”
Morrow-Wilson initially had no plans to participate competitively, and his inspiration to compete for the first time came when he watched his friend win his fight.
“I never had any intention of ever fighting, but I remember after a few months of training, I saw Hamza fight, and he won, and he looked so proud and happy. I remember thinking to myself and wondering if I could ever feel like that and be that happy. That night I quit drinking and smoking, and got to work. Still hesitant, I was convinced after about a year of training to give it a go, so I did. It was June in 2016 when I had my first fight, and I was lucky enough to take it out with a 16 second knock out.”
The fighting part of training is a bonus for Morrow-Wilson and there is no place he would rather be than training at Tihipuke Muay Thai with Coach Darryl Dawson,
“I couldn't picture myself anywhere else, it's not so much the fighting that has me hooked, it's the family that Darryl has created at the gym. The fighting is merely a byproduct of me being able to always work towards bettering myself in every aspect, and inspiring others to do the same.”
Wanting to be able to better himself as a person, mentally and physically, and to inspire others to do the same, is the most rewarding part about being a combat sport athlete for Morrow-Wilson.
“I appreciate the way it gives me a platform to be able to speak out about mental health and toxic maxculinity, and let people know that if "some tough fighter guy" can speak about his feelings openly, then so can you. I want to be living proof to anyone struggling, that things can get better.”
When asked to share his thoughts on combat sport in New Zealand right now, Morrow-Wilson talks about the growth, changing dynamics and views that surround the sport, and the paradigm shift that’s helping to slowly erode stigmas that have been tied to martial arts.
“New Zealand has some of the best athletes in the world, in EVERY sport, and the fact that we're all up against each other in the early days just means that by the time we get a chance to fight the best in the country, we're ready to take on the world. Combat sport is beginning to be looked at less as a "angry and aggressive people" kind of thing, and more of a discipline and art which is an amazing change of public perspective and will help more of our athletes get the recognition they truly deserve.”
To keep up with Morrow-Wilson, follow him on Instagram @_jessemw_