James Heelan, left, is from Knocklong in Limerick
IF YOU have ever watched any footage of Thai Boxing, chances are you would have been watching a legend of the sport, John Wayne Parr.
The 41 year old Australian is arguably one of the best known names in the sport and this weekend he fights in the Logan Metro Sports Centre.
Why is this of interest to us? Well, on the other side of the ring is one James ‘Sexual’ Heelan from Knocklong in Limerick.
Heelan, who has held an Irish title in MMA, trained with Rob Ng in the Eire Muay Thai Siam Gym in Pery Square Limerick.
The story of how a Limerick native ends up in Australia, having gone through Thailand is something Rob Ng says was based purely on the determination of Heelan.
“He would have started classes with me in Caherline back in 2008. I am not going to say that he looked like a champion straight away, but he definitely had the determination” Ng added.
Heelan left Limerick to join the Army in Dublin, before concentrating on his MMA in the now famous SBG with a younger Conor McGregor.
“He became disillusioned with all the trash talk and ego involved in MMA” Rob Ng adds.
“James was too down to earth for all that, so he decided to head to Thailand to concentrate on his Thai boxing exclusively. He comes home for months at a time, saves up his money and goes again. He is a real example of singular focus” his former coach continues.
Heelan will fight the ‘Gunslinger’ Parr, stepping into the bout at short notice. A quote from Parr's facebook page admits that Heelan will be a match for the champion, but also suggests that the fight is a great opportunity at raising
“Unfortunately a few days ago we found out the news that Jake Purdy, my original opponent, broke his big toe sparring and had no other option but to pull out of the event.
We reached out to my friend Kevin from Siam Fight news seeing if he knew anyone that could possibly fill the position.
I'm happy to announce my new opponent from Ireland is James "Sexual" Heelan. James has a record of 47 fights mixed with Muay Thai, MMA & boxing.
James once trained out of Dublin with Coach Kavanagh before moving to Phuket to concentrate purely on Muay Thai.
Can always trust the Irish to jump at an opportunity when it comes to a fight”
With Heelan being relatively unknown in Australia, a win would most certainly raise his profile in what is a huge market for Muay Thai.
“People might not think he has a chance, but James recently fought the current Thai Champion, Yodpayak, and even though he lost that fight, the current Thai champion would not be far off of Parr in terms of styles and energy levels” Ng added.
The event, which carries a ticket price of 80 Australian dollars is set to sell out in the coming days.