‘They’re Great Athletes’ – Liam Harrison Talks Muay Thai Training With Wrestling Stars Malakai Black And Zelina Vega
Knee surgery has kept Liam “Hitman” Harrison from competing since August 2022, but the Muay Thai legend is always busy as an in-demand coach of “the art of eight limbs.”
As well as teaching at home in England, Harrison does seminar tours around the world, with his latest itinerary taking him to North America, where he trained alongside some massive names in the combat sports industry.
Making the trip with his cousin and former ONE star, Andy Howson, the 38-year-old landed in Florida, USA, where professional wrestling superstars Malakai Black and Zelina Vega welcomed them to The Dark Arts Gym.
Black and Vega’s new venture incorporates professional wrestling and Muay Thai, and Harrison was thrilled to go and teach for his old friends.
He told onefc.com:
“I’ve known Malakai Black, Tommy, and his wife, Zelina Vega, who’s called Thea, for a while. She’s absolutely massive at the minute in SmackDown, and he’s a big star in AEW, so they’re really high-level professional wrestlers, but they’re both into their martial arts as well. I’ve trained with them before a few times.
“Me and Andy went to their new gym that had just opened up and did some training with them while we were on our Canadian tour. We dropped down to Florida to catch up with them.
“It’s good because they’re trying to get us to see what moves from Muay Thai we think they could incorporate into their wrestling, and we’ve got quite a good understanding because we watched it all the time when we were kids, so we know what would work and what wouldn’t.”
Although Black and Vega are known for their exploits in the world of sports entertainment, they’re both high-level martial artists.
The athleticism required for their careers in the squared circle makes them explosive strikers, and “Hitman” loves getting the chance to work together.
“It’s just good fun. They’re really good athletes. Malakai has trained Muay Thai and kickboxing most of his life on and off, so he knows what he’s doing. Zelina knows what she’s doing as well, and obviously, because they’re great athletes, it’s a lot easier to train them.”
‘Absolutely Mind-Blowing’ – Liam Harrison Says Canada Is One Of His Favorite Destinations
Florida was the last stop for Liam Harrison and Andy Howson on their latest North American trip, but the bulk of their time was spent teaching in Canada.
As a regular visitor, Harrison has grown fond of the country, but with some new locations added to his itinerary this time, he got to see even more of the famous landscapes in “The Great White North.”
Looking back at the highlights, he said:
“To be fair, I love every city in Canada. I’ve never been to Canada and been to a bad place. I got to see some of my old friends, Tony and Sasha, from their gyms on the East Coast, and I went to the West Coast for the first time as well.
“I got to see some amazing places out in the mountains, and it was absolutely mind-blowing how beautiful those places are.”
However, Harrison wasn’t just there to take in the sights. He also used his skills and experience to help the nation’s gyms through his popular seminars.
And although he’s happy to impart his knowledge, the Leeds native is impressed with the standard of Muay Thai in Canada.
Home to plenty of world-class strikers – including reigning ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Champion Jonathan Di Bella – the country offered up a chance to work alongside some big names.
“Hitman” said of the Canadian talent:
“All of the gyms are good over there. They know Muay Thai, so they’re easy to teach. I spent time at Kieran Keddle’s gym in Calgary and in Vancouver at Adrian Fairtex’s gym.
“Adrian has got Petchpanomrung Kiatmoo9 there and loads of other good fighters, so we got to train with them. Petchpanomrung is probably one of the best kickboxers on the planet at the minute. So, I got to keep myself ticking over a bit over there.
“I also got to train with Cookie, an old trainer of mine, so it was an all-round good trip.”