Fighters don’t come much more inspirational than Dean James. A role model in every sense, Dean has overcome adversity in all its forms to rise to the top of professional combat sports. Diagnosed with life-threatening colon cancer at the age of nineteen, Dean not only defied doctors’ advice by participating in combat sport, but astoundingly went on to become the best British Bantamweight and Featherweight in the gruelling art of Muay Thai, winning three world championships at three different weight divisions. He’s had success outside of combat sports too, teaching Physical Education and Art to children and teens in central Birmingham at Spring Hill High School – an independent facility for students with Behavioural Emotional Social Difficulties (BESD), autism and underlying issues of mental health. The Headmistress of Spring Hill High School, Sheraine Reid-Ferguson, commented: “Dean possesses a skill-set that underpins a strength of character, which helps him to match the intensity that is required to work with arguably some of the most challenging and vulnerable children in the country.”
Born in Wolverhampton, Dean discovered combat sports at a young age – play fighting with his father in the lounge for practice. After his struggle with cancer, Dean’s family were understandably concerned about the prospect of him participating in sport that could put his health at further risk. Nonetheless, Dean found himself continually attracted to the Eastern discipline of Muay Thai. He discovered the sport shortly after his initial diagnosis, and found it to be the perfect outlet for his anger, frustration and confusion. Muay Thai provided Dean with a much-needed physical release, as well as a sense of intellectual stimulation and feeling of control. Instead of risking his health by diving right into the sport during his recovery, Dean observed his coach Tony Myers train others for a while, absorbing the nuances of the sport like a sponge. He still uses the ‘observant eye’ he developed during this period to analyse competitors and identify their weaknesses today. Dean is – in his own words – a “thinking fighter”.
For all his assets, Dean’s most admirable trait remains his unwavering, burning ambition to compete with the very best. Unsatisfied by having a flawless fight record simply for the sake of it, Dean considers it senseless to square off against someone who won’t present him with a challenge, or someone he cannot learn from. He’s living, breathing proof that you can succeed even if the odds are stacked against you, and Tanko Management is privileged to have such an inspiring character among our ranks. Welcome to the team Dean.
Attacking with the knee
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Muay Thai Grand Prix 3
Date: 26th March 2016
Location: Indigo O2, London
Dean’s original opponent Wuttichai pulled out of their contest at Muay Thai Grand Prix 3, leaving the Tanko Management fighter to square off against Frenchman Hakim Hamech instead. Despite the switch, Dean’s greatly anticipated return to the ring ended in the best possible way as he emerged victorious via unanimous decision.
The Main Event
Date: 23rd May 2015
Location: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Dean suffered defeat in his fight at The Main Event 2015 against Wuttichai – a former Southern Thailand champion. The Thai stamped his name on the British Muay Thai circuit after emerging victorious against Dean – who had a reputation as one of the best featherweight fighters in Britain heading into the contest. Dean knows exactly why he failed to win on the night, learning a lot from the defeat and coming back even stronger than before.
Muay Thai Super Fights
Date: 30th April 2017
Location: The Supreme, Birmingham
After two consecutive cancellations, the Dean James v Wuttichai rematch has been pencilled in once again for Muay Thai Super Fights this spring. Dean’s long-awaited return to the ring is not just a World Title fight, but also a contest that will take place in his own backyard in Birmingham. This is a match-up with a little bit of everything, and Dean will be eager to avenge his defeat to the Thai and celebrate another championship win in front of his hometown crowd.