Dave and I met exactly one year ago. There are so many things that have happened since, it seems like we’ve been together for at least 10 years now. We traveled, laughed, cried, cheered and did everything in between in just one year – what a ride it’s been so far!
Dave Leduc is a professional martial artist. He’s the current Lethwei World Champion. When we met, Dave was fighting in Muay Thai. He then smoothly transitioned into Lethwei.
If you think Muay Thai is rough, then look up some videos of Lethwei. It’s known as traditional Burmese boxing. The sport originated in Myanmar, Thailand’s neighbouring country. The rules are pretty straightforward – a win is by knockout only. If both fighters end five rounds still standing, then it’s declared a draw. Also, no gloves – it’s a bare knuckle sport. Wait, there’s more! The use of fists, elbows, knees, feet but more suprisingly, the head makes it a very unusual and exceptionally brutal martial art.
Yes, you read right, headbutts are allowed.
I accompany Dave to all his fights. Needless to say, I go through all kinds of emotions during these crucial days. People don’t realize how much stress and preparation goes into each show. Fighting as a career is definitely not for everyone. It demands so much strength, not just physical, but also emotional. Same goes for being a fighter’s wife. You NEED nerves of steel.
I’ll never forget Dave’s first Lethwei fight. It was also our first trip to Yangon, Myanmar. Dave was set to fight against their middle weight champion, Too Too.
Let me put you in the spirit of Myanmar fans. Lethwei is their national sport. Locals are extremely proud of their fighters; they pretty much carry “celebrity status” among their own people. Consequently, Dave Leduc, who was supposed to fight their champion, was passionately hated by everyone. They wanted him to lose, of course. I swear I could feel the negativity in the air.
I remember one day before the fight, Dave had a quick training session scheduled. At the time, I was alone in the room googling “death cases in Lethwei” and sure enough I found some sources claiming that, back in the days, deaths in the ring weren’t uncommon. My heart stopped. I couldn’t breath, but I kept telling myself that I had the strongest man in the world by my side. “Dave will win!” – I was repeating this over and over in my head.
I was worried sick, yet I had to keep a calm spirit in front of Dave. He didn’t need any additional stress before his fight. I think I did a good job, because that same night Dave told me, “You really help me calm down before a fight.” I was SO relieved to hear these words come out of his mouth and I was doing something right!
Also, keep in mind, this was Dave’s first Lethwei fight. His opponent had so much more experience than him. I just couldn’t stop having all these “what-if’s” in my mind, it was terrible.
The day of the fight rolled around and my stomach was in knots. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Just hours before the fight, Dave was in the zone and I didn’t want to bother him. He needed to focus, so I was just staring at my phone. There was no wi-fi. I was pointlessly scrolling left and right, opening and closing applications, scanning through our photos… when, all of a sudden, Dave’s manager screamed, “Dave, it’s time!”
You know when you’re on a roller coaster and the train suddenly goes down the circuit – you get this feeling in your stomach. That’s exactly how I felt. I think I was more nervous than Dave, he looked very focused and serious.
The fight itself went extraordinarily well for my husband! Phew! He dominated his opponent and got out of it without a single scratch. The crowd went nuts. They were “boo-ing” every solid shot that Dave managed to lend. I hated that crowd. I’m not an aggressive person, but I actually felt like punching them all in the face. Every single person in that crowd.
It’s been almost a year since that legendary fight and Dave Leduc is now an open-weight champion of the sport. I’m still just as nervous for every single one of his bouts; I don’t think this will ever change… but to be a fighter’s wife is to embrace his passion for the sport. My main focus right now is to keep calm and support Dave in his journey.