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Fighter vs Athlete

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Fighter vs Athlete

I recently attended the United States Muay Thai Open. I was somewhat taken aback when I kept hearing tournament officials refer to the contestants in the tournament as ‘Athletes’. There was an obviously concerted effort for them to not refer to them as ‘Fighters’.

I hearkened back to a few years ago when we had a group from our gym walking the parade route in Draper, wearing ‘Fighting Solves Everything’ t-shirts. Our Muay Thai trainers were wearing them, as well as our Muay Thai students.

A man in the crowd, stopped me as I was handing is overweight kid some candy, and said, ‘We don’t teach our kids to fight!’ REALLY? I have always taught my children to fight for what they believe in. I have always taught my children that fighting is something you will have to do in order to get ahead in this world.

I am always super proud when I see one of my children stand up and speak forcefully about a cause that they feel passionately about.

I used to take Karate when I was a child. As a karate student, I had to learn a motto. It went something like this;

‘Be as the Thorn unto the Bush. Sharp, and ever ready to defend the Rose, yet at Peace, and seeking no Confrontation.’


Of course, we don’t LOOK for fights…in fact we try our hardest to avoid them, but we must always be ready for one should the need arise.

While I am proud to acknowledge the fact that each of the competitors we brought to the US Muay Thai Open are all indeed athletes, they are more than that…They are FIGHTERS. Many of them really had to FIGHT to make weight. Others had some downright wars inside the ring...wars that I don't think your average 'athlete' would have been able to endure. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines an ‘Athlete’ as; a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.

Webster’s Dictionary also defines a ‘Fighter’ as; a person who does not easily admit defeat in spite of difficulties or opposition.

If you watch ESPN, you are told that Poker Players are ‘Athletes’. Golfers are also ‘athletes’ by Webster’s definition, but neither are FIGHTERS.

I get it that the officials at the tournament were trying to be politically correct, and use a term that does not sound offensive. But, I wear the name ‘fighter’ as a badge of honor, and believe it is a more prestigious moniker than ‘athlete’.

I wish I could go back a few years, and tell the father of that chubby kid eating candy at the parade, it’s too bad your son won’t have anyone to help him become the best that he can be by teaching him how to FIGHT to reach his potential.  


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