Head coach and co-owner of SOMA Fight Club
I've never been part of anything that taps into raw emotion like this sport does.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
Originally from New Zealand, I made the move to Asia about five years ago, looking for something different. I had been training boxers, Muay Thai fighters and MMA fighters for a while (including multiple champions), and had also opened my own gym in New Zealand. I initially moved to Phuket, Thailand, until Bali MMA reached out to me to be one of their Head Coaches to help grow their programme. So, I moved to Bali to create a better lifestyle for myself (as all those who eventually come here do), and to see how I would fare among others here.
I like to think I helped to build parts of Bali MMA to where it is today, and provided a positive experience to all those who came in to try martial arts in Bali. I stayed with Bali MMA during the pandemic, and while I was honoured to have been with them (and they asked me to continue), I decided it was time to add another stage to my journey.
So, I partnered with a close friend of mine, Adam McCasey – a great entrepreneur and Bali businessman who owns Bikini, Boss Man and Sisterfields – whom I had been training for years, together with my close friend and One Championship Fighter and Coach, Gianni Subba. The three of us took over an old Mexican Restaurant in Canggu to refit it into what is now known as Soma Fight Club. I love it – it’s an embodiment of us as both individuals and as a team.
Our vision is to bring world-class training, facilities and service to Bali, and to transform what Indonesia can do in the way of not just boxing, Muay Thai, and MMA, but for building a strong community and culture here in Bali, with martial arts at its roots. I’m loving it, and I love all the people that are jumping in on the journey with us.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Actually my biggest achievement that I’m most proud of is being a Dad. It has taught me a lot about myself over the last 20 years, and changed me in ways that I didn’t think possible. She was the first person I asked permission from to come to Asia to live. Part of this is to show her that we can move somewhere and do what we have always wanted away from the safe confines of home.
What impact have you made in Bali?
Big question. I have had the opportunity to help a whole lot of people over the past five years, either in their general fitness goals, or in finding a place in martial arts. But ultimately, I think setting up a base where we can make an impact on Indonesia as a whole, and pushing Bali as a place where people want to visit, train and get fit. My biggest goal here is to put Indonesian talent on the world map, and to break the mould that has held back young talent here for so long. And I would love to say that I’m also part of a movement that inspires people to look at ways to better themselves. We have a saying here: “everyday people, every day better”
What does 2022 look like for you?
Exciting and busy. What we have managed to achieve in five months – building this Soma community, setting up large scale events, raising the standard of coaches and athletes here in Bali – is what drives and motivates us. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the momentum in the current community grows, and watching other people’s business flourish after a hard two and a half years. And I’m excited to see everything unfold with Soma Fight Club too. We have big dreams and big plans to create a combat sport industry likened to somewhere like Phuket, not just at a local level, but a national and global level.
What do you love most about Bali?
The people, both Indonesians and the expats that are here. Bali has a really great community that helps nurture a certain lifestyle, and a place that I’m proud to call my home. There aren’t many places in the world where you can stay within your tribe, and then have a whole new group of people fly in and join the journey. It’s crazy to think about the number of people I have here in Bali that I call my family. I am truly blessed.
What do you love most about your sport?
Martial arts is a sport that crosses all races, genders, and other social structures – it brings people together from all walks of life. It’s also so good at helping people find themselves, pushing them out of their comfort zones so they can grow. I’ve never been part of anything that taps into raw emotion like this sport does. And the biggest love for me, is that it introduced people into my life that have become lifelong family. I’m truly indebted to this sport for all it has given me.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
Actually there are two, who funnily enough, are now working together at Skool Kitchen, and also fought for us at Soma. First up is Adam McCasey, my business partner. The guy has been here for over 10 years and set up a business from nothing. He’s earned such great love from the people who work for him, and from those around him. Then there’s Tai Graham, who’s been a pivotal part of the surf/Canggu scene for such a long time, and keeps building new innovative projects. He’s also Polynesian like myself, so I see a lot of myself in him.
Both of these guys really inspire me to be better, and I’ve taken a lot of learning from them both.