England, Liverpool was not a happy place for Billy Moore.

A lack of a real father figure, bad choices, bad company and heavy drug addition had made life hard. A friend suggested a trip a that would change Billy’s life forever. The destination was to Thailand, the land of smiles and a whole lot more.

After few weeks of moving around Bangkok,  Billy parted with his English counterpart and traveled up North to Chang Mia. This new environment was like a luxury spa for the soul. Its was refreshing to get out of Bangkok away from the hustle. Billy’s new life in the exotic Thailand was proving fruitful.

I would wake up early go to the gym, workout, drink some coconuts and eat salad in the morning. Then I would teach English at a local school to children and train in Muay Thai, life was good.” Billy told me in our podcast interview.

Billy Moore

a prayer before dawn Billy Moore muay thai

One morning a local from a movie stunt team arrived in Chang Mia. They were looking for extras for the latest Rambo film starring, of course, the big man himself Sylvester Stallone. Billy’s confidence was sky high and his past boxing skills came into there own. He approached the crew and introduced himself.

Billy’s build was not far from Sly’s size and their body types had around the same mass and over-all shape. Further more, Billy Moore already had the boxing skills not to mention the confidence to perform. He was casting as Sylvester Stallone stunt double.

Billy told me, he got to know Stallone and he was the most down to earth man on set. Posing for selfies with the extras and even sometimes eating lunch with them and talking about his favorite movies. He told Sylvester he was a big fan and his films inspired him to take up boxing as a child after watching Rocky.

Billy was for the first time in his life feeling empowered and relevant; he was doing what he wanted, the way he wanted, when he wanted and it felt good, but the dream life was about to take a turn with one bad choice which would change his life forever.

Bad Choice

a prayer before dawn Billy Moore muay thai

One hot afternoon whilst training at the local gym, an older Thai boxer approached Billy Moore and asked if he would like to make some extra cash.

“Whats this extra work?” Billy asked.

“Sell Yaa-Baa!” the older Thai boxer replied.

“Sell Yaa’Baa, I can do that?” Billy asked.

Billy’s life was improving and now off the drugs and making positive changes in his life for the better. Billy’s new environment was making that happen, so he wanted to stay in Thailand for as long as he could.

Like many Foreigners living in Thailand looks wonderful, but earning any real money can be a real nightmare. With the super strict working restrictions and visa regulations, it can be almost impossible to do it legally; extra cash would indeed come in very handy.

Billy’s past had already been clocked in an endless series of remissions of drug taking. It always lead to more and ultimately if continued he would either either end up in prison or death. Or maybe that monkey on Billy’s back was holding on too tight and needed feeding again!

You tell me not to do something and I’ll do it!” Billy Moore told me and his suborn mindedness lead the way and once again there was a slippery slope ahead.

Prison Life and Muay Thai

a prayer before dawn Billy Moore

Six months later, police arrested Billy Moore for selling “Ya-Baa” or “Crazy Medicine” (a mix of methamphetamine, caffeine and other toxic chemicals).

Billy Moore was sentenced to 10 years in the infamous Klong Prem prison.

Whilst inside the Bangkok prison Billy met someone who changed him forever. A prison guard “Peecha” played by Thai Actor Vithaya. Peecha convinced Billy to focus his energy on competing in the prison competitions of Muay Thai.

This was not only a way to transcend the day to day of prison life. But he can get special favors from the prison guards who like gambling on insider prison fights. This was even more appealing for the Thai’s as Billy was a “farang” or Foreigner which ups-the-states big time for gambling on fights especially against a Thai.

This can make things go a little more smoothly if one makes a habit of winning. And thus makes money for everyone involved and in some cases even shorten sentences.

Muay Thai Saved His Life

a prayer before dawn Billy Moore

Billy Moore already had a past in western boxing and also trained in Muay Thai whilst living in Chang Mia at a local gym before being imprisoned. He was aware of the dangerous of the fight game now when the rules can be bent. ‘Thai-prison rules’ wear the ‘rules’ are sometimes forgotten all together.

Billy got off the drugs and began training once again. Its was not long before he was wining most of his fights. He some what became an inside Foreign hero. The art of Mauy Thai had become a tool, a vehicle for focus and way to ascend the day to day horrors of being locked up in a Thai prison. “The art of Muay Thai saved my life,” Billy told me.

Fast forward 3 years and they granted Billy Moore a Kings pardon. The Kings pardon is a long tradition that happens once a year for both Foreign and local prisoners who have either well behaved or in some way proved there worth. Many foreigners are getting a more lenient entrances due to bad press from aboard about living continues in Thai prisons.

Other institutions like the British Embassy which are usually famous for doing nothing are now seemly taking a little more interest in what happens to their citizens aboard also due to bad press.

Billy Moore wrote to his loyaler and they in turn contacted the authoresses to show that Billy’s sentence was too harsh for his crime. The amount of drugs was small and had no real connections to any kingpins which are big fish they really want to catch. Not to mention the massive and now well documented over population of the Thai prisons which all feed the ever increasing amount of pardons now.

Billy Moore And A Prayer Before Dawn

a prayer before dawn Billy Moore

Billy went back home and needed redemption. His past was eating him away. He needed to express these feelings and experiences. Billy sat down to write his book entailed ‘ A Prayer Before Dawn ’. This changed Billy’s life. “When you write a book, it cleanse your soul, its was hard opening up but its helps the healing process.”

Then Maverick House Publishers and  Indochina Production House in Bangkok picked up the book. They made it into a Biographical movie filmed in Thailand and the Philippines. Billy is now living back home in Liverpool with his girlfriend and Family. He still writes and teaches Muay Thai to local teenagers who need direction, gives lectures at schools about drug awareness and helps promote local caner foundations.

When I heard that Belgium born Director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire (Johnny Mad Dog) decided to take up the challenge of directing this movie, I knew it would be different from the usual run of the mill expat prison tales. There was indeed a trend back in the early 1990’s for stories. Foreigners predominantly wrote them; typically being locked up aboard in remote, exotic but poorer 3rd world countries, which were notorious for their lack of human rights and outrageous squalid living conditions.

This seemed to be the very reason why other foreigners found these stories alluring in the first place. Somehow, maybe the exotic unlawfulness and danger appealed to the more alpha-male readers of a certain age.

A Prayer Before Dawn Goes Viral

Undoubtedly many of which have come to Thailand and other under developed parts of South East Asia in the search for their Asian buzz fulfilling some kind of manliness which is frowned upon back home. The result was a flood of cliched and poorly written waiting-room reading marital. ‘ A Prayer Before Dawn ‘ propped-up bottom sieves of Bangkok airport bookstores and second-hand book shops all over South East Asia.

These post-prison publications did not necessary give a realistic interpretation of real prison life”, Billy Moore told me, in our subsequent podcast interview and in many cases, simply glory-filed and exaggerate events to presumably promote sales for both the author and publicist.

‘ A Prayer Before Dawn ‘ was indeed much more than just another sorry tale of misdirection or a series of bad decisions in a foreign land. It seemed to have heart felt elements of self betterment, vulnerability and moments of strength with gave his character depth and a believable connection with the reader that made it stand out from its counterparts.

You can buy Billy’s book at – www.maverickhouse.com.

Read Part 2 here.

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