At Champions Cider we are working to empower Champions across the UK. This week we spoke to local gym owner, coach and former Muay Thai world champion, along with many other titles, Rich Cadden. We found out about his journey and career to becoming a Champion. Here is what he said:
I grew up as a rough-n-tumble kid and was always involved in combat sports and rugby from a young age, saying that, it could be argued amateur rugby was a form of combat sport back then! I started judo and rugby at 8 years old, and continued doing judo until I was 15 years old. This is where my rugby career took more of a front seat, I played rugby for York starting at under 11’s until I was in the academy rank, which culminated in a year of a professional contract playing for York.
From around then, I was coached into professional sport- which built a framework for how I shaped my whole career (regardless of sport). I was always looking to put that extra 1% into everything I did. I had a thirst for knowledge and growing.
After a year of professional rugby, I moved on and discovered Muay Thai. I really resonated with the 1% advantage mindset you have to have with Muay Thai. In the space of 4 years I climbed the ranks to English and British Championships and I was regularly going out to Thailand to train and compete. In fact, I achieved my highest acclaim in Muay Thai, winning 2 World Titles, 2 European Titles, British and English titles and winning a bronze medal at the IFMA World Championships (Muay Thai Olympics).
Throughout my time in Muay Thai, I was competing against full time fighters but I was also doing a full time job and a full time degree in engineering. I would take annual leave to go and train and compete out in Thailand, it was an ongoing joke with me and the guys out there. Even to this day, my Thai coach, Jitti Damriram, says I am the only westerner to go out to Bangkok and not get seduced into the party lifestyle! But, for me it was a cathartic experience for me to be out there on my own, I was never lonely as it was my journey.
In 2005, I won my first title on 'Thai Global Network TV Channel', shown to 52 countries around the world. Then in 2007 I reclaimed my world title back after fighting in front of 100,000 people.
However, In 2008 things took a different turn. I was made redundant from the railway I was working for. So, I decided to spend a couple of years gaining qualifications in personal training, nutrition and much more to build up my coaching tool kit.
This led to me opening the doors to Chokdee academy in 2011, a hub of Martial Arts excellence which is unrivalled in York. Each year since, I have grown by adding more coaching such as Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing and MMA. Across the years I have worked with olympians to help with their mental performance. It has led to the gym being regularly nominated for the National Fitness Awards as one of the best combat gyms in the UK.
As part of my outreach programme, we do lots of work in local schools to open the opportunity for kids to access combat sports in a safe, effective and educational manner. In fact, I am the Head of Combat Sports at Queen Ethelburga's School on the outskirts of York.
I have had a career wearing many different coaching hats, from strength coaching to mental performance. Throughout lockdown I decided to found my latest venture, York Performance Institute, that serves as an umbrella term to pull all these areas together. In summary, we aim to “Build Better Humans”. If you want to be better at whatever sport you do, we can help.
Thank you Rich for this incredible story of championing throughout your career. If you want to find out more about Rich and his gym, you can check out his Instagram here.