One-arm Calgary Muay Thai fighter Jake Peacock inspires inside and outside the ring
Posted Nov 3, 2022 08:34:41 PM.
Last Updated Nov 3, 2022 08:39:15 PM.
A Calgary Muay Thai fighter born with a portion of his right arm competes Saturday in a Muay Thai world cup, and his journey to the ring carried many ups and downs that have stoked inspiration for many.
When Jake Peacock, the current WBC Canadian Welterweight title holder, is not training for his own Muay Thai bouts, he is running his gym, Dunamis, in the city’s northeast, moulding the next generation of fighters.
“I love Muay Thai,” Peacock said. “It involves a bit of everything — punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and a little bit of grappling. It’s a very holistic striking sport.”
Peacock says running a gym isn’t about whether people sign up or not, but about making those connections with people and being available for a chat.
“Opening up the gym, I still feel like a counsellor. People still come to me with their problems, people from all different walks of life, and we have an amazing community at the gym,” Peacock said.
“They know it’s a place where they can come and chat with me or if they did want to get involved, I’ll put them on the right track and get them involved.”
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But the 29-year-old fighter’s story starts across the pond where he was linked to a different kicking sport.
Born in England and living in southeast London, Peacock says he faced bullying and discrimination due to his arm.
“It would be more the stigma around it and what people think I can and can’t do and the limitations that people have put on me in the past,” Peacock said.
“Obviously, growing up, the playground was tough at times, and a lot of name-calling. So that’s the biggest obstacle I’ve had to face.”
Since then, Peacock says he has “honestly never really found nothing that I can’t do.”
“I can still tell you countless stories that have happened in the last two years with things that have happened with me and my arm. It is what it is. I’ve learned to deal with it and learned I can be a motivation and an inspiration to other people with other adversities and challenges,” Peacock said.
When he was seven years old, his mother put him into karate, saying, “She wanted me to know how to defend myself.”
“I just took a liking to it. As a kid, running around playing Power Rangers all day and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And then I got to do it as a hobby, running around kicking things in karate.”
Peacock competed in the Japanese martial art when he was around 10 to 11, and “fell in love with it straight away,” as his abilities in it gave him the confidence he needed.
“It was something I took a natural inkling to,” Peacock said.
When he was 12, his coach told his parents he should consider trying out for the Olympics in karate and to “work toward that goal.”
“That was the first time I realized there was maybe something I could do in this,” Peacock said.
His journey to Canada was a bit of a back-and-forth, with Peacock calling it a “unique story” with a laugh.
Peacock’s father was a soccer player and played professionally when he was 17 years old, then worked in radio after he retired with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and with SkySports.
After a time, his father got into a church ministry which led their family to move to Canada for his work, Canmore specifically. Peacock was 14 years old.
He adds that his father now pastors a church in Calgary.
For how he stayed in Canada, Peacock says, “I married a Canadian and stayed.”
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And that opens another chapter of Peacock’s journey — as he holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioural sciences.
“I worked with some of the most at-risk youth in Alberta as a child and youth care counsellor. It’s a very tough job, but a very necessary job as well,” Peacock said.
“The idea of opening a gym and doing social work through the gym — I started training people one-on-one, and that was going well. I was training fighters, both professional and amateur, and that was going well too. I was encouraged by a few people in my life to open up a gym, so me and my wife just went for it. We signed a lease, quit our full-time jobs and went all in.”
Peacock lives and breathes the martial arts, specifically Muay Thai, as he continues his own training as the current Canadian welterweight champion.
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And no doubt, he’ll have many supporters in his corner on Nov. 5 when he makes his way to the ring at the Genesis Centre at the Muay Thai World Cup 6 to put his belt on the line as the hometown favourite.
“I’m very focused, and I definitely feed off the crowd,” Peacock said. “Whether you’re a Muay Thai fan or not, it’s pure entertainment with some really quality fights. It’s a big afternoon and evening of events.”
He will be defending his title against Toronto’s Richard Pham, who is ranked number one, in the main event.
Peacock, who has eight wins with one loss, understands many Calgarians are fans of MMA, but he’d love to see them take a liking to Muay Thai too.
“I truly believe it’s an entertaining sport, and if people give it a chance and come out, they’ll be hooked,” Peacock said.
“Expect entertainment. Expect exciting fights and a good time with friends with different rivalries between different fighters. You see a lot of courage in fights and a lot of hard work on display. It’s great seeing athletes who work so hard getting out there and perform.”
People can learn more by visiting the tournament website.