Your first real fight in combat sports is always a rude introduction. Nobody ever goes easy on the new guy – you’d be a fool to think otherwise. Tanko fighter Jack Kennedy went into his debut C-Class Muay Thai fight several years ago feeling like any other athlete competing without padding for the first time – nervous, excited and a little unsure of what to expect. What happened next gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “baptism of fire”.
Jack was forced to fight on two separate occasions that night: once in the ring, and once for his life.
During his C-Class debut, Jack took a heavy kick to the gut. Despite battling on to win the fight via TKO in Round 3, he fell unconscious on his way home and was carted out of the arena car park in an ambulance. Some extreme sickness followed, and before long Jack slipped into cardiac arrest. He flat-lined and the defibrillators came out, jolting his heart back into action. Thankfully, after some substantial time under the knife, Jack began to make a full recovery. The kick he’d received in the ring had actually ruptured his spleen, and it took a team of emergency surgeons to remove the organ and save the fighter’s life.
This all happened in May. He was fighting on another event by November.
“It was touch and go for me there for a while,” Jack admitted. “But it didn’t stop me fighting. My family had always wanted me to do something constructive as a youngster and were very supportive when I first went into combat sports. They were a bit anxious when I told them I wanted to keep going after that first C-Class fight, though. Easy to see why, really!”
Over the past year, Jack’s racked up a win streak stretching into double digits, and whilst he hasn’t woken up in a hospital again during this period, his body has been through the wars nonetheless.
“I like to celebrate like everyone else after a win,” Jack told Tanko. “It’s great to be able to go out for a drink with my mates, but it can be tricky. There have been times when I’ve been so sore after fights that I’ve had to climb up the stairs on my hands and knees. Even pulling the bed covers over my legs has been painful in the past.”
Just because you’re a great fighter doesn’t mean you strut out of the stadium feeling as fresh as you did when you first walked in. At The Tanko Main Event in May, Jack Kennedy produced a confident performance to beat Mark Skeer, but his corner team still had to carry him up the stairs when the fight ended.
“Mark Skeer was so tough,” Jack told Tanko. “I remember kicking him and hurting myself as I did so. I was trying to kick with power like my corner was telling me to, but Skeer was made of steel. Normally, I’d look to clinch and elbow but Mark wouldn’t let me anywhere near him so I had to stick with the kicks. My legs felt the worst of it later on!”
From his near-deadly debut to his most recent tussle, Jack has experienced the kind of physical pain and mental struggle that few people ever will. He knows there’s plenty more to come too, but that’s just part of the game. After his baptism of fire, there’s nothing left for Jack Kennedy to fear, but plenty for his opponents to be afraid of.