Emil Lazar / iMuayThai.com
Saturday, July 25, 2009 | midnight
- What: World Championship Muay Thai fights
- When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
- Location: Las Vegas Hilton Theater
- Featured bout: WBC Muay Thai U.S. Welterweight title — Kevin Ross (8-4) vs Justin Greskiewicz (9-5)
Beyond the Sun
At first sight it is hard to believe that Baxter “The One Armed Bandit” Humby is a champion kickboxer.
“I saw a picture of a guy with one arm and a belt over his shoulder and at first, I’ve got to admit, I didn’t take it seriously,” said Preston Conner, a filmmaker who has spent the past two years documenting Humby’s life.
“I was like, maybe it’s a novelty thing or something.”
But once one sees Humby fight, it soon becomes evident why he’s the IMTC World Super Welterweight Champion.
“In his last five fights he’s broken three guys’ arms through his kicks,” said Conner. “A couple of fights ago, they had to stop it because the other guy wouldn’t come out for the third round.”
Humby looks to improve upon his 35-5 pro Muay Thai record when he faces Chike Linsay (10-0) in a non-title fight this Saturday at the Las Vegas Hilton.
According to Humby, a victory this weekend would qualify him for a WBC title fight at the next event scheduled to take place at the Shaolin Temple in China.
The 36-year-old Muay Thai boxer was born in the small Canadian town of Gillam, Manitoba. While he was still in his mother’s womb Humby lost his right forearm after it became severely tangled with his umbilical cord and had to be amputated at birth.
“It’s not common,” Humby said. “One in a few million. But, I happen to be one of the lucky, or unlucky ones, whichever way you want to look at it.”
Despite the disability, Humby’s father, who was a boxer in the Canadian army, taught his son how to box at age four.
“His family never treated him differently,” Conner said. “He developed a mental toughness and this idea that he’s no different from anybody else, so he never expected differential treatment because of his arm.”
Differential treatment, however, was sometimes impossible to avoid.
“I grew up in a rough neighborhood.” Humby said. “Kids used to tease me and I had to stand up for myself. I had a knack for protecting myself.”
Humby tweaked his street skills used for protection into a passion for mixed martial arts and athletics.
At age 17 he started training in Tae Kwan Do while also competing for the Canadian National Track Team. After earning his black belt in the kick-orientated martial art, he then concentrated on Muay Thai.
“What he’s done is he’s adapted the Tae Kwan Do speed and the height of his kick and added the power from Muay Thai and it’s just devastating.” Conner said.
The sport was perfect for Humby, it allowed him to utilize all of his weapons.
“With the Muay Thai I’m allowed to use my elbow on my right arm — which is missing,” Humby said. “So when we’re up close I can land the elbow without any obstruction.”
Humby’s successes in martial arts eventually lead to a competitive career. However finding an opponent was often times more challenging for him than his fights.
“In my early career I had a lot of people backing out, saying they didn’t want to fight a one-armed guy,” Humby said. “Either way you’re going to lose. If you win, you beat a one-armed guy. If you lose, you lost to a one-armed guy.”
By 1996 he was crowned Canadian Super Welterweight champion and relocated to California to pursue a career in professional kickboxing.
Despite his accomplishments, Humby still attracted prejudice. Not just from fighters but promoters.
“The first fight that I was scheduled to fight in Vegas got canceled on me because they didn’t have a chance to review my tapes,” said Humby. “They wanted to review the tapes to make sure I was capable. They didn’t want me to go on pay-per view and get pummeled on national TV.”
When Humby finally did make his Las Vegas debut, he knocked out his opponent in just 56 seconds.
Conner says that Humby’s will to succeed is fueled by the fact he represents everyone who faces overwhelming odds.
“He’s not just fighting for himself,” Conner said. “He’s fighting to prove to other people that they can overcome their obstacles as well and that gives him an edge.”
His most formidable opponent so far has been the State of California, specifically former State Athletic Commissioner Armando Garcia, who in 2006 proposed an amendment that would prevent anybody missing all, or part of a limb, from competing in a contact sport.
“It seemed like it was a very specific, direct attack on Baxter because he is the only guy whose fighting professionally in California who’s missing part of a limb,” Conner said.
The proposal would have prevented Humby from defending his IMTC World Super Welterweight belt.
“I had to do whatever I could, I had to fight for my career outside of the ring,” Humby said. “It basically got to the point where we had to say if you don’t revoke that amendment we’re going to have to sue you.”
Not only did Humby force the commission to drop the proposal, he won all five of his fights that year and successfully defended his title.
While Humby is now at an age when most fighters are considering retirement, he says he’s got a few good fights left in him, in the ring.
“I keep saying to myself, another couple years, but I keep getting stronger and smarter,” he said.