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New York City Nak Muay: The Preparation of Elijah Clarke

Fightland Blog

By Coty Tarr

Photos and words by Coty Tarr

By way of the Caribbean, the Brooklyn-based Elijah Clarke is quickly making a name for himself in the NYC Muay Thai world. In a short time, Clarke put together an impressive 15-4 amateur record. Stating matter-of-factly, he simply ran out challenging opponents as an amateur and now, representing the Renzo Gracie Academy, he has a spotless 4-0 pro record. With his latest defeat over Alex Burrios, Clarke is ranked 19th in the world, and he’s just getting started. 

I got to meet Elijah a few days before his fight. We got to know each other, and I had the pleasure of watching him get his final days of preparation.

How did you get into Muay Thai?
I got into Thai boxing at a late age (22-23). I had a friend who invited me to train Russian Systema. When we got there I saw an old co-worker doing Muay Thai and he told me that I should do it, I did and after eight months I had my first fight.   

What does Muay Thai mean to you, why does it drive you to be better?
Muay Thai means a lot to me, because it helped with my confidence. The thing that drives me to be better is wanting to fight the best guys out there. I also want to inspire my students, as well as inspire others to join Muay Thai.

Is Muay Thai big in New York City?
I think Muay Thai is certainly growing in New York and the U.S., but I still think we have some way to go. Hopefully one day when people think of Renzo Gracie Academy, they not only think jiu jitsu, but also thinks of them for great Muay Thai.  

What inspires you outside of fighting? 
Outside of fighting I'm inspired by my Mom. No words can say how much she inspires me. How hard she worked just to make sure we had what we needed. Working hard just to get us here to the U.S.

Do you have an ultimate goal? How long do you plan on fighting?
My ultimate goal for fighting is to win a couple of pro titles, and one day win a WBC title. And I plan to fight as long as my body can do it. 

How are you feeling about your big win on Friday? 
This fight was a very significant win for me. I saw Alex Berrios as one of the top guys, and a very skilled fighter. To be able to stop him said a lot. The win also secured me at #19 ranked in the world.

Now that you are ranked, what’s next?
What's next for me is hopefully get on bigger shows and showcase what we at Renzo Gracie Academy have to offer.

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Nak Muay: Portraits of Thailand’s Enduring Martial Artists

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Thai Prison Fights

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