Something I have learnt in this life, is that the 5 people you spend time with the most are the ones you are likely to emulate in social status, income, hobbies and interests and behaviour. This photo is probably one of my favourites. I am standing between not one, not two but THREE champion Kick Boxers. I trained in Kick Boxing for the first time in a 2 hour session and had plenty of fun and broadened my horizons yet again.
On the far left is George 'Iron Lion' Longinidis ISKA Super Heavyweight Champion, Commonwealth Super Heavyweight Champion and World Heavyweight Champion.
To my right is George's brother Stan 'The Man' Longinidis, 8 times world champion and his instructor Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez. Benny was a non-contact karate competitor who later pioneered full-contact fighting in the U.S. He made the transition from point to full-contact karate in 1974, and dominated the ring for many years to come. After his legendary spell spent in the ring, he became involved in action films starring alongside Jackie Chan, Patrick Swayze and became the trainer of UFC champ Ronda Rousey and movie star John Cusack.
This was taken in late 2016 and will forever be etched in my memory. Rewind time to over a decade ago and my circle of influence was far different. My peer group included a "friend" who shall remain nameless, who I thought to be my friend but was content in getting wasted every weekend after a stressful week at work. This guy was someone I confided in, had fun with and spent most of my time with outside of my family. This guy was my rock.
I was working my way up the ranks in Karate at the time, and after Friday night class, I would change out of my uniform, chuck on some jeans and a T-shirt and go out for drinks with him to get it on with the ladies. We would take it in turns to drive to an inner city pub or bar, and get wasted so much that I would have to stop at KFC to pick up a empty cardboard bucket to spew in BEFORE heading out. The reason was so it wouldnt end up all over the exterior of the car as we are driving.
To cut a long story short, his penchant for drinking cost him my friendship. As time went on and we progressed with our careers, I began kicking goals in the security industry, and would be working more hours. In the end he became frustrated I wouldnt see him as often and after seeing him for the first
time in a while we had an argument and in a rage, he attacked me and tried to punch me in the face. My training helped me fend him off but after I stormed out, his partner tried to cool the situation, but upon reflection our friendship was over. He tried to blame it on the alcohol and apologised, but my decision was to distance myself from him. Eventually, I cut him out of my life. Even though we grew up together, I began to see what our friendship was really about. Drinking, Making fun of others, a mutual love of Def Leppard and hitting on women.
Imagine if I kept in contact with him? Who knows the road I would have gone down? I battled alcoholism once before as a teen and at my lowest ebb I took comfort in training after a drunken assault against me took place at a house party. But knowing I made a permanent change, has benefited me in so many ways. Interesting career path, continual further studies, a slew of friendships with a diverse range of endearing people and a wonderful lady who I am proud to call my girlfriend. I wouldnt have had this had I stuck by my "old mate". In fact he often used to belittle my life choices, Karate being one of them.
So I now ask you the reader? Who is in your corner? Have a think of who you spend the most time with and ask yourself? Does this friendship/relationship serve me well or do I need to make a change? I just hope you dont have to decide when a fist comes flying at you for no reason at all.
Food for thought..