At 26, Jeremy Spera is preparing for his first Muay Thai fight. There is a hunger in him that is palpable and an aura of quiet determination which surrounds him. With the light of excitement in his eyes, Spera recounts the journey that has led him to this point.
Fighting has always been an integral part of his life. Growing up, Spera and his father bonded over watching fights on the screen. Theirs was a rocky relationship, full of love but also wracked with hardships. Sharing time watching fights was one of the very few positive memories Spera has of his father. Surrounded by drugs and abuse, Spera acknowledges that his childhood was rough and full of negativity. He could have easily continued spiraling down instead of picking himself up.
But he did pick himself up. Spera woke up one day shortly before his 24th birthday and said to himself, “I’m going to be a Muay Thai fighter.”
With that goal in mind, Spera walked into Rick Davis’ gym in Statesville, North Carolina. He instantly felt that he would find what he needed there, a trainer with the skills to help him achieve his goal. Ajarn Rick Davis understood Spera’s thirst to succeed and was instrumental in helping him turn his life around. With Ajarn Davis’ help, Spera found permanent work close to the gym. At the gym every day, Spera worked on the Art of 8 limbs, learning Muay Thai with the compulsion of a self-described perfectionist.
Just a few months into his training, he received news that Ajarn Davis would be retiring his gym. Feeling at a loss, Spera continued going and training until the end, not knowing how he would continue on to accomplish his goal of becoming a Muay Thai fighter. Fortunately for him, while hitting pads one day, Spera heard someone yell out, “Keep your chin down!” Instinctively, Spera did so and finished his round of pad work. Looking up, he saw JT Smith for the first time.
With Kru JT Smith’s help, Spera continued training in Muay Thai after Ajarn Davis retired. Kru Smith almost had no choice in the matter since Spera called him incessantly to ask if he would train him. Recognizing Spera’s determination and drive, Kru Smith agreed to do so. Kru Smith had previously trained with Ajarn Davis. They continue the lineage of Ajarn Pek of Bangkok, Thailand where both Ajarn Davis and Kru Smith traveled multiple times to learn and train in the Authentic Muay Thai style.
Currently training at Lake Norman Muay Thai under Kru Smith and Assistant Kru Matt Riter, Spera now has 2 years of training under his belt. Spera believes himself ready for his upcoming fight. Kru Smith agrees, stating that Spera has the skill and the hunger needed to compete. Kru Smith works with Spera several times a week on Muay Thai, conditioning and cardio. As Spera’s dedicated pad work partner for the last few months leading up to the fight, Kru Riter feels that Spera’s cardio is where it needs to be. All 3 know that it’s not just Muay Thai technique and skill that will win the fight, but having the cardio fitness to go the distance.
Spera is the first fighter to represent Lake Norman Muay Thai. Though he feels a certain amount of pressure, Spera knows that it’s his time. Kru Smith and Kru Riter are excited for him, having traveled down the same path before. Both have competed on the Amateur level with Kru Riter winning an Amateur US title and Kru Smith advancing to the Professional level and competing internationally.
Spera is focused on his upcoming fight at the IKF Spring Eastern Classic All Amateur Muay Thai Kickboxing Championships taking place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on March 17th and 18th, 2017. This is an exciting time for Spera as he makes his debut. Focused squarely on his ultimate goal of fighting in Lumpinee, the Super Bowl of Muay Thai, this debut marks a significant milestone for Spera – solidifying his legitimacy as a serious Muay Thai fighter.
Spera readily admits that Muay Thai saved his life; he has shed the negativity of his childhood and is looking forward to his future. As he finishes his walk down memory lane, Spera recounts that the last movie he ever watched with his father was “Never Back Down.” Those 3 words could easily summarize Spera’s lifelong journey. Never back down. Keep fighting from the corner.