Kelsey Andries

Muay Thai World Champion

Fight vs Erica Bjorenstrand

Fight vs. Bjorenstrand - April 18, 2015 Journey Fight Series, Calgary, AB

Another first for me. MY FIRST FIGHT AS A SOUTHPAW. WHAT?? Yes you read right. In November we had a new coach join our team to help train the fighters. Artur Nowaki spent years training, fighting and studying Muay Thai around the world and in Thailand. His knowledge of the sport, his ability to teach and explain the technical side of Muay Thai and his passion was instantly loved by Kru Trevor and the rest of the fight team. He came in and started training us in his systems and I was falling behind and I didn’t know why. One day, just before Christmas he came in and was like (insert awesome Polish accent here), “I was washing my dishes last night and thinking about you. I think we should try you southpaw!” My first, uncensored, pit of my stomach though was YES. I don’t know why but I just knew that it would be ok.

So begins my journey of trying to learn Muay Thai like I have never learned it before. After about 4 months of solid training, it was time for my fist fight….an “experiment” as Artur said. We don’t really know how well I have adapted until we try it in the ring. He and Kru Trevor set up the fight against Erica Bjorenstrand of Sweden. She is a bronze medalist from the 2014 IFMA World Championships at 63.5kg, the weight class below me.  I knew she would be a good fighter and Kru Art knew of her club and coach and said they are good.

I was fighting in my hometown and I think everyone I knew was there. I was excited by the cheers of the crowd and was super thankful to have everyone there, but hilariously I can’t actually look at anyone or talk to any of them before the fight. I think it is because I have to take my mind to a different place in order to perform, and when I see my sister, or my Dad, it reminds me of my everyday life and pulls me out of focus. So I avoid everyone, not because I don’t love them, but because I need to focus.

This fight was a blast for so many reasons.

1) Erica was TALL. Not as tall as my last opponent but tall enough that she teeped me in the face. HA! I loved it.

2) I had to think so strategically because NOTHING that worked for me in orthodox stance works as a southpaw. I could not rely on the weapons I have favored in the past.

3) I had to surrender and let my body perform. Many of the things I did in this fight were complete firsts….and they just came of out me. All the repetitions and training done over the last 4 months took over and starting coming out and it was pretty cool. 

4) I found my hands and my left roundhouse….very cool for me.

5) Erica was GAME! She wasn’t afraid of me (or at least did not show it) and brought it for the full five rounds of the fight. 

It was a super close fight. I thought I had done enough to win based on the weapons I threw and the power behind them but in the end I lost by split decision. I can completely understand why I lost and why Erica won based on how we fought.  She was a great opponent and I know she had just as much fun as I did in this experience. I was criticized by after this fight for losing. People said I could have won if I fought orthodox. People thought I never unleashed on her. People expected me to be mad that I no longer had a perfect record and questioned if I would quit after this loss. 

What many people didn't understand was after 14 times in the ring I am most proud of this fight because of what it represents to me, not to anyone else .

...a willingness to grow...

…instituting change not for the short term success but for long term success...

...thinking critically about whether I love Muay Thai or whether I love winning....

...risk and reward...

...sharing with the world my expression of Muay Thai....

I thank Erica for the opportunity to compete and for her contribution to my grow as an athlete :)

Kelsey Andries © 2016