For every athlete, retiring can be a challenging decision to make. This is even harder when an athlete is at the top of their game. When it comes to boxing, the boxers who hang up their gloves usually don’t have much to fall back onto. Although retiring from the sport and going on hiatus for an athlete sometimes though, a retired boxing veteran can coach aspiring boxers with their extensive knowledge and expertise. One such example is the WBC Muay Thai International Trainer of the Year, Richard Smith. He is a fighter-turned-coach who has devoted his life to this sport. For Smith, coaching and boxing have always been a way of life.
When it comes to retiring from a sport that becomes a way of life, there are many reasons behind stepping away from the squared circle. But instead of walking away from the sport he loved, he became more focused on training a new generation of fighters under his wing at his gym Bad Company.
Smith was born on December 27, 1967, in Sheffield, United Kingdom. The spark of interest in martial arts ignited when he was only 16. Smith started his career as a Muay Thai Fighter in 1986 from Chesterfield Cobras. He later joined Master Toddy’s Gym in Manchester. As a fighter, Smith is a former three-time British, Commonwealth, and European Muay Thai Champion.
The lack of a Muay Thai Gym in the city of Leeds caused Smith to start Bad Company when he moved to Leeds in 1992.The foundation of his own gym gave Smith a chance to fight under the name of his brand. Over the years, Bad Company has produced champions and become aglobally renowned gym as a result.
A westernized and a hybrid version of the sport
Smith has been a critical piece in the career of many fighters who have trained at his gym. Over 20 fighters who trained under him have paved their way to becoming world champions. Bad Company has been a breeding ground for fighters since its inception. Smith has a great deal of experience in his sport. He has spent a lot of time in Thailand and knows how to fight like the Thais but developing a slightly westernized hybrid version of the sport. A look at 8x World Champion Liam Harrison’s style, for example, shows how Smith developed the use of the low kick and explosive boxing in his fighters.
Coaching the elite-level fighters
In the second chapter of his professional life, Smith has coached many of the country’s elite-level fighters during his over two decades of career as a coach. Bad company is home to many up-and-coming young fighters, including his two sons, who are 16 and 19, already multiple national and international title holders and world medalists. As a coach, Smith individualizes his coaching personally with each fighter, involves them in classes, and tailors lessons for a fighter’s specific needs. He has coached Liam Harrison, Andy Howson, Jordan Watson, James France, Joe Craven, Lisa Houghton-Smith, Mateusz Duczmal, and Richard Cadden, some of the best-known Muay Thai fighters that the UK has produced since launching Bad Company Gym. Smith is the Head Coach of the WBC Amateur Team England, together with his wife, Lisa Hougton-Smith. At the WBC Muay Thai Youth Games in Calgary, Canada, the team won the team of the tournament in 2022.He is trainingthree fighters signed to One Championship – Liam Harrison, Amber Kitchen, and Jacob Smith.
Awards and accolades
Smith is a three-time British, Commonwealth, and European champion who has trained several World, European, National, and International champions over the course of his 36-year career. As a fighter and instructor, he has traveled to Thailand, Japan, Russia, the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Singapore, Kazakhstan, France, Holland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany,and many other countries. Richard was named Leeds Sports Federation Coach of the Year in 2008 and again in 2010. In the 2013 Awards, Bad Company was named Club of the Year. He has over 30 years of coaching Muay Thai and Strength & Conditioning expertise. More recently, he was voted WBC Muay Thai International coach of the year 2022/23.
Put simply, Richard Smith sets a prime example of taking his retirement in a direction by using his experience to help others.