When I spoke to Kevin Ross before his recent win at Lion Fight 13 over Matt Embree, he shared enough of his thoughts for two articles. So, even though there was not originally a planned part two I took a page from Douglas Adams. He originally did not plan on a fourth and fifth installment for his Hitchhiker’s Trilogy but it did not stop him. So, here is part two of the interview.
In the first part Kevin spoke mostly about his thoughts on fighting. He has since articulated them further in a blog post on the Can’t Stop Crazy site titled Respect. For him being a part of a great fight is more important than winning. He is after the kind of greatness that resonates through time. Like the ones that you do not care about who won or lost but the moments that happened during the fight. His dog’s name is Gatti after his favorite fighter who embodied the kind of warrior spirit he aims to emulate. The true warrior mentality that produces memorable fights like the one he had last year with Tetsuya Yamato at Lion Fight 11. Not every fighter shares this mentality, but some who do in the Muay Thai and Kick Boxing world find themselves a part of the Can’t Stop Crazy Crew. They are a group of fighters that have come together over the years, Kevin is El Presidente of them. Here are a few things he had to say about them and how they came to exist:
We’ve all been around each other over the years…Me and Romie (Adanza) fought back in ’07. Then Joe (Schilling) and Chaz (Mulkey) fought as well. I knew Ky (Hollenback) from Team USA. They all were pretty close with Master Toddy’s. They would do a lot of back and forth when they were in town. We just kind of all knew each other for a long time…We were never really close friends, and just over the years, in the last three to five years we got to know each other a lot better. Especially, after we fought. Then we became really good friends. After Joe and Chaz fought that’s when we started hanging out with Joe a lot…So, we have just been around the same coaches and stuff and just became friends over time.
The concept of two fighters becoming friends after they fight is something that people outside of the sport have a difficult time understanding. The average person who associates fighting with the at the schoolyard or street kind does not grasp the shared experience of the fight. As Kevin spoke about in the first part of this interview it takes two fighters to make a great fight. When that happens, then there is a respect and appreciation for the rare opponent that is willing to meet you in that quest for greatness. You know at that deep level that matters there is someone who shares your passion, thoughts, and feelings about the fight.
Like many of life’s better things, Can’t Stop Crazy happened organically:
It wasn’t something we really planned. We were all at the same level or coming up to that level at the same time. It wasn’t something that we looked at like this guy is good, that guy is good, and we need to get together to start a group. It kind of just happened that way. We just seemed to be kind of at the forefront of the sport, and you know, in part because we kind of placed ourselves there.
One of the reasons, is that the crew wanted to take our image into our own hands. The other outlets, other media sources are printing what they wanted about you. It’s still great you know anytime somebody’s helping promote yourself…but we really wanted to take control of that, and at least be able to put something out that had our stamp on it. Something that said this is us. This is our sport. This is when we are fighting. These are our interviews. We still do all the other stuff, obviously but we wanted to really take charge of it. That helped us promote each other, promote the sport and it has gotten all of us to where we are…More than anything though obviously when you are doing good, when everything is going great everyone wants to talk to you. You lose a fight and nobody has anything to do with you…People are asking for interviews but do they really care or is it just because you are in this place right now. They don’t even know who you are or what you do…I think we just got sick of it. We need to put this out for us, and for the fans. The fans want to know whats going on.
The fans have always been important to Kevin and he is one of the more interactive fighters on social media. He will respond to people and is always entertaining. You should at least be following him on Twitter @dasoulassassin.
I would highly recommend that you also check out their website at cantstopcrazy.com. It is worth it for Kevin’s weekly blog posts alone #church. It is really something unique in the combat sports world in this country. They are a collection of fighters from several gyms who all help and support each other. It is not surprising to find Kevin in the middle of it all. It has always been about more than just him he truly loves the sport of Muay Thai:
It is more important to me to help the sport, to improve the sport. Obviously I want to do good for me but at the end of the day it’s about the sport, about making it better for the people coming up. I think that’s what it should be about.
Muay Thai maybe more than other combat sports demands a love of it to fight. It is growing in this country in popularity due in large part to Lion Fight and AXS TV giving people a quality product and a place to consistently see it. It has not always been that way. Kevin can speak better to what it was like not that long ago and where the sport is going:
When I started out there was never a point I wanted to get to, it was just I want to fight. I want to get as good as I can but there was no, one day you can get on TV, win this title, this that and the other. There was nothing. Just fighting. No one to look at for a guide to what to do, and I think that is why I kind of struggled early on, and why Muay Thai was really slow in America for a long time. There was no one to really look up to or to inspire them to get into the sport, or to stay with it for so long. That’s why you would see so many people switch to MMA over the years. That was the draw for them. That was where the money was at. That was where people could be seen. They’re like, “I look up to that guy, I want to be like that guy.” Well, it’s because he’s visible. In Muay Thai it was under the radar so you wouldn’t have that same kind of thing with people coming up. Now you know kids starting out or adults staring out, they have a kind of platform to look up to, “that’s where I want to be, to be like that person,” you know. They don’t have to scour around the internet and find Muay Thai videos, or just randomly come across them like I did.
I always knew eventually it would kind of happen that a good promotion would come along, a good TV deal would come along. I just never really thought it would happen while I was still actively fighting. For it to be going on now, it’s kind of surreal for me. I thought I would help the sport get there for sure. I just didn’t think it would actually happen while I was still fighting.
Love for the sport is a requirement to reach the levels that Kevin has during his career. It is an art form, one of the more violent ones especially the way Kevin practices it. The violence and it’s consequences requires you to be your best. Here are some of his thoughts:
In this sport if you are making mistakes you are getting hurt, you know that is the reason I want to get better. I’m sure there’s a lot of things that factor into it that I don’t know, but for this I’m definitely a perfectionist. I can never be good enough. I can always get better. I think you need to be that way in anything you want to do really well. I don’t think you could ever really give yourself too much credit. Then you never really push yourself. I think it can be bad to always look at the negative but it makes you want to get better…It’s not like I bag on myself all day, its more like this bothers me, this could be better, I just want it to be better… I appreciate the things I’ve done well in the sport but there is so much more I want to do. It’s almost impossible for me to get to the level I want to get to starting out so late (he started at 23 years-old, conversely in Thailand a fighter will start teen or even pre-teen). So, I’m always going to be pushing it as hard as I can as long as I can. In fighting it is very limited… the time you have to do it. You can train forever and always be improving in that sense, but to actually be fighting and fighting on a high level it is a very short window. On top of me starting so late I’ll always just try to get better and push myself. Working with better people, that’s what really pushes and motivates me.
It is one of those sports that requires you to fight to really do it. A fight is different from training and there are lessons that can only be learned in the actual fight. Kevin talks about some of the lessons he learned, and when you should learn them:
You have no choice; it’s learn or just get beat up. That’s why I like getting thrown in the fire. That’s what kind of helped me get to a high level so quickly was that everybody I fought coming up, especially in the beginning, there was no way on paper I should be in the ring with them. But they just threw me to the wolves. It was the same way for Chaz coming up. His second pro fight he fought a guy with eighty something professional fights, but that’s how he got so good so quickly too. I mean, you take a lot of damage and you can really get hurt and beat up. I wouldn’t recommend for everybody to do that…It might not be the smart way to do it, but yeah they’re going to get better or you’re going to be done. It’s kind of like when Hulk Hogan wanted to start wrestling and his trainer snapped his leg in half and said, if you really want to do this, this is the stuff that can happen to you. It’s a pretty extreme example but it will tell you right away if this is something you want to do. If not then go do something else. There’s so many people who come up slow. They’re in the gym and yeah, they want to fight because they didn’t realize what it’s really going to take. People put years and years into this and then find out when it’s too late that they really don’t want to do this. It’s a hard lesson to learn but it can be good to learn those kind of things right away. This is what can happen to you. You need to learn that you can get your ass kicked really bad. You can get hurt really bad, you can get killed. You know, those are the facts of fighting. You have to accept them and if that’s something you really want you need to know that and accept it.
With pain and injury as an accepted eventuality of the sport, Muay Thai requires more than most that you truly have to love it to get to the level that Kevin has in his career. He has traveled the world in his quest to seek the best training and fights he can find. He has been the face of American Muay Thai for years now. By just being true to himself he is a natural role model for others, inspiring them with his actions and words. He has inspired people in the sport and those outside of it. For more on Kevin check out part one of this interview and the Can’t Stop Crazy website for more on him and the other fighters in the crew.
Kevin would like to thank his team and everyone at CSA, his family, friends and fans, his sponsors Khero (who does his signature walk out shirt), Triumph United, Osiris and his Can’t Stop Crazy family.