John Wayne Parr has officially announced his retirement. The Australian Muay Thai fighter posted the news on his Facebook page last week:
“Never thought I would be writing this one, but 2011 will be my last year fighting. I turn 35 in May so time isn't on my side. Want to give it everything I can this year and finish on a high. Don’t want to have 5 fights too many and start drooling when I speak. One more year before I have to think about what I will do after I retire, hope it's not washing dishes.”
A big factor in this decision was his difficulty cutting weight at this point: “85kg to 72.5kg every 6 weeks hurts way to much and I don't think my body can go through it much more. Even dropping to 75kg hurts, any bigger I am just too small a frame to fight the big guys.”
Parr has made it clear that he will indeed fight through the end of 2011. He is looking at taking roughly 5-6 fights this year, preferably in Australia. The first of these fights is set, as Parr revealed that he will face his longtime rival Mike Zambidis on May 28 (thanks to our old pals at HKL for the info). As for the rest of the fights - the Gunslinger has multiple opponents who he has met numerous times, and whose fights help define Parr's career. Rivalries with Yodsaenklai, Zambidis, and Bruce Macfie are full of classic fights, and all would be great opponents for Parr's final year.
While Parr’s best days are perhaps behind him, he is far from irrelevant in the Middleweight division. Recent wins over the likes of Zambidis and Yodsaenklai Fairtex have shown that he can still compete with the best, and we currently have him ranked at #20 in the LiverKick.com Middleweight rankings. Like Masato before him, Parr is choosing to step away before injuries force him away and while he can remain healthy in retirement.
A long-time veteran of the sport, Parr started his professional career 18 years ago at just 17 years of age, famously winning an Australian title in his first year. Early in his career, Parr moved to Thailand where he gained valuable experience and quickly established himself as a young fighter to watch. Over the next few years, he competed primarily in Thailand (including winning the 2001 King’s Cup) and his native Australia.
For many fans, it was the 2004 K-1 MAX Grand Prix that brought Parr to international stardom. At the GP, Parr gave Buakaw Por. Pramuk all he could handle, dragging Buakaw to an extension round before the eventual 2004 champ could score enough damage to earn a close split decision win.
Parr’s next big international exposure came in 2007 when he appeared on The Contender Asia. Already a 15 year veteran of the sport, Parr was immediately seen as a focal point of the show. He made his way to the show’s finals before losing to Yodsaenklai.
2009 saw Parr face off with Buakaw once again at the Champion of Champions 2 event in Jamaica. Again, the two went to a razor close decision, and again Buakaw got the nod, although many felt that Parr should have taken the win.
Last year, Parr avenged his 2 previous loses to Yodsaenklai, finally defeating his long-time foe. He called this win “the greatest thing I have done in the sport” and said he now has nothing else he needs to accomplish.
While his career is exceptional, Parr’s popularity is equally due to his extremely open attitude towards fans. For years, Parr has been one of the most accessible fighters, always willing to talk openly with fans about his experiences. You can often find him on various message boards, sharing details about his fights, posting candid stories and pictures, and just taking part in the conversation. He is, and always has been, a tremendous ambassador for the sport.
In recent years, Parr has been focused on training fighters at his Boonchu Gym in Queensland, and will continue in this role into retirement. It’s great news that he will still be involved in the sport, as he not only represents Muay Thai well, but also has much to offer young fighters. His star pupil at the moment is Heavyweight Thor Hoopman, who is on the verge of breaking into the top 25 and made his K-1 debut last year at the Oceania GP.
While I certainly understand and respect his decision, there’s no denying that the kickboxing scene will lose something when Parr hangs up his gloves. On behalf of everyone at LiverKick.com, I wish Parr all the best in his final year, and in all his future plans.
We’ll have more details on Parr as the year continues, and will be sure to keep you up to date on the final year of this legend.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.