ONE Championship recently held the ONE Elite Retreat, an annual event where the world’s largest martial arts organization invites some of its best athletes to an activity-packed outing to talk about life and other aspects beyond the cage.
This year, the athletes went to the island of Phuket, Thailand, and ONE lightweight contender Amir Khan offered a glimpse into the invitation-only event.
“My experience was awesome, I really enjoyed it,” he said. “They pampered us with a five-star vacation, and a well-thought and thorough schedule for us to have fun and learn.”
There was a lot of time to relax, learn, and bond with his fellow athletes at the retreat.
However, the Evolve MMA product’s most memorable encounter came from an unlikely place. A special guest attended the retreat and delivered a motivational speech that will stick with the Singaporean for a very long time.
“One of the speakers that came down, John Maclean, gave us a talk about how he overcame adversity,” he shared.
“I really got inspired by his talk, and my problems seem much smaller after hearing his.”
Maclean was hit by an eight-ton truck during his fitness training back in 1988, and has been a paraplegic ever since.
However, instead of wallowing in sorrow, Maclean channeled his energy towards competing in some of the most challenging sporting events and has become an image of inspiration.
Former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon shared a photo of him and Maclean on social media, showing the latter not sitting on a wheelchair – a result of working towards his dream of getting back to his feet, after 25 years of being an incomplete paraplegic.
“I learned how strong a human mind can be,” Khan explained. “Your body can take a lot of physical abuse, but it depends on your mind whether you will give up or push through.”
Although the retreat ended a month ago, the 24-year-old is still heavily inspired by Maclean’s words and he is already taking action.
He is starting off small with a simple mental exercise that is meant to help him overcome fatigue.
“Sometimes, in your head, there’s a little voice talking to you, or tempting you to do things,” he explained.
“For example, you set your alarm at seven in the morning, but when the alarm begins to ring, that little voice tells you to snooze and get a little more sleep, even though you’re meant to wake up at 7:00am.
“As an athlete, that little voice comes in your head when you’re fatigued – it tells you to give up or take the easy way out. We usually take a few seconds to shake our brain and ignore it.
“Right now, I’m focusing on daily routines and refusing to submit to the voice in my head. I believe that with this practice, it will help me improve my mental strength so that in those moments of fatigue, I can easily tune that voice out.”
Khan hopes exercises like this will be helpful in his future battles in ONE.