Not so common… Muay Thai coach to Muay Thai veteran fighter

What happens when a 45 year old Muay Thai coach returns to the ring to compete for a Muay Thai veteran title, after 11 years out, and with 20kg to lose in 15 just weeks? …Huge lessons, and a big win!

Rich Cadden, former 2x Muay Thai world champion, performance coach and chief instructor at his own gym, Chokdee Academy in York (UK), took on this mission and shares the lessons he learned from it.

Rich’s approach has always to be “obsessed” with his training, sacrificing his “party years” to take his fight career as far as he possibly could. As a coach, he realises others often don’t have the same level of motivation he’s always had. And that presented an opportunity to distil training down into the most effective elements and doses to achieve the greatest benefit.

This was something he found to be vital during his preparation for his Muay Thai veteran title fight. He had to temper his obsessed nature, and strive for optimal instead of maximal or he would have failed to make the starting line, let alone cross the finish line as the winner. But what was found to be essential for a Muay Thai veteran also proves to be optimal for fighters of any age.

by Don Heatrick

Guest Links

You can follow Rich on Instagram @richcadden, on LinkedIn at, and follow the Chok Dee Gym @chokdee.gym

And check out the Gym website 

Show notes for this episode with further references and resources below!

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Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00:00 – Intro
  • 00:01:35 – From pro rugby, inspired by Vale Tudo to find Muay Thai
  • 00:03:54 – Full contact nature
  • 00:05:29 – Always training to compete
  • 00:06:39 – Experiencing Muay Thai in Thailand while on a worldwide surfing tour
  • 00:08:56 – The impact of visiting Rajadamnern Stadium
  • 00:09:54 – A professional attitude to a sporting adventure, not just a fight
  • 00:13:07 – More is not always better
  • 00:17:04 – Designing training that gets results for others, not just yourself
  • 00:18:30 – Chasing flow state
  • 00:24:28 – The part risk plays in finding flow
  • 00:25:49 – The need to for ever bigger challenges
  • 00:26:55 – Taking a veteran title fight
  • 00:28:07 – Needing a structured approach to make it
  • 00:29:33 – Gaining sympathy for fighters that need more structured progression
  • 00:30:46 – The discipline of recovery – don’t undo the good work you’ve done
  • 00:31:33 – Using wearable technology to track training stress and recovery
  • 00:32:58 – Sleep and optimal performance
  • 00:35:07 – Post fight comedown
  • 00:36:28 – Considering sports therapy
  • 00:39:50 – Coaching: I wanna be the guy that I didn’t have
  • 00:41:20 – The power of incompleteness
  • 00:44:52 – Toughness is a given, it’s intelligence that counts
  • 00:47:01 – Emotional intelligence for fighters
  • 00:49:38 – Accepting things you can’t change and doubling down on the things that you can
  • 00:52:04 – Picking challenging goals
  • 00:56:41 – Fail in training, to succeed in fights
  • 01:00:34 – Understanding fighters have differing levels of personal sacrifice
  • 01:04:38 – Invest as much training time as you can

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram:


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