Todd Barden, a Milwaukee-based financial advisor, has always enjoyed fitness as a hobby. He has competed in multiple races and triathlons, including the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.
This summer, Barden took his hobby to a new level as he competed in a professional Muay Thai – Thai-style boxing – match in Thailand.
He had first tried mixed martial arts only three years prior at Milwaukee’s Roufusport Martial Arts Academy. After earning high-level belts via weekly training sessions, Barden set a goal to compete professionally.
“When I started in 2014, I didn’t really have an end goal, but I think the goal evolved as I got better, I got more confident and I had unbelievable coaching that gave me the skills and the confidence,” Barden said. “I needed to have a big goal to keep going further.”
[caption id="attachment_332908" align="alignright" width="350"] Barden in Thailand[/caption]
Duke Roufus, owner of Roufusport, reached out to Phuket Top Team, an MMA and Muay Thai training academy in Thailand, to arrange the competition. In August, Barden and Joe Nicols, his Roufusport coach, traveled to Thailand for almost two weeks to put his Muay Thai skills to the test.
Barden trained with the current and five-time Muay Thai world champion and his Phuket Top Team coach for a week to prepare for his fight night competition in the Bangla Boxing Stadium. Barden won three out of five rounds against a professional Thai boxer who was competing in his 20th professional fight.
“The Thai culture and everything around this sport was amazing,” Barden said. “It’s a very respectful sport – the bowing and praying and paying homage to your coaches and the sport.”