One of the most difficult and simultaneously most desired qualities of good fight reporting or documentary work is the connection to the hearts of the fighters. Recapping action, talking about matchups, post-fight interviews—the bulk of most fight media is not really, in my opinion, what fight fans truly want.
What they truly want is to know why the fighters do what they do, what motivates them to put themselves through such hardship, what keeps them going, and what they get out of what they do—maybe not all fight fans, but that’s certainly what I want. If I want action, I’ll just watch the fight.
“A little teenager and a grown man—that’s in his mind, it’s been in his mind for a year, for a whole year—now it’s time to get it back. He wants his revenge back. He’s not going to be ok in his life with a little teenager beating him.” The opening words of the Part 1 of Jacob Klensin’s new Muay Thai documentary, Born Ready, are as intense as any elbow, lead hook or low kick. The words come from Rami Ibrahim, trainer and uncle of Ahmad Ibrahim, the 17-year-old champion Muay Thai fighter whom the first episode features.
And just as Rami urges Ahmad to treat every round of the 6-minute fight like the first round, every minute of the six minutes of the first episode of Born Ready is equally intense. The young fighter and his trainer share with Jacob the closest details of how they first began in the sport, what motivates them, as well as the unique dynamic of being a fighting family. One of the most touching visual examples of that dynamic is the kiss Ahmad’s grandmother gives him after the conclusion of his title fight at the Philly Ring Kings show, on which most of the documentary centers.
Without letting this become a spoiler, one of the things that stands out most strongly to me in Jacob’s talk with Ahmad is the young fighter’s humility. I know from knowing Ahmad personally that this is not just for the cameras—it is genuine and something I believe his uncle imparts in him as part of his training. Ahmad is soft-spoken, reflective, and real—a great representative of some of the best elements of the spirit of Muay Thai.
One of the greatest challenges in fighting is to come to grips with what you are fighting for. It’s something that is more clear for some than others, and I think that the first episode of Born Ready delves into those emotions in a way that is both poignant and honest. As a fighter and a member of the fight media myself—and foremost as someone who simply loves Muay Thai—I think Born Ready is a wonderful contribution to the sport.