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Thursday, Jun 16, 2011

Ben Garcia: Life After MTV True Life: I Am A Muay Thai Fighter

Ben Garcia before a fight in China during the prime of his Muay Thai career

By Cameron Conaway

MTV’s wildly popular documentary series True Life premiered in 1998 with “Fatal Dose,” an episode that delved into the lives of heroin addicts. Since the kickoff episode, the series has always maintained a distinctive, yet simple style of production and delivery – it chooses a subject, finds a few people who represent this subject well and follows them around with a camera.

On most trailers and advertisements for True Life, there’s a clip showing Muay Thai. For those long-time fight fans out there, you may remember Ben Garcia, the co-star in the 2004 True Life: I’m a Muay Thai Fighter episode. While Kit Cope, the other fighter that the episode followed, went on to be featured in a second episode, True Life: I’m a Mixed Martial Artist, and then fought in the UFC, Garcia fell off the fight fan’s radar.

Those who watched the Muay Thai episode, had the opportunity to witness Garcia follow the warrior code both inside the ring and outside of it.  Disciplined in life, open in failure and humble in success, Garcia is a longtime student of Muay Thai guru Master Toddy.  Whereas MMA legends Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz have worked with Master Toddy for a fight camp here and there, Garcia has remained loyal for years.

Viewers also saw Garcia in his alter ego – “DJ OB-One.” For the past twenty years, DJ OB-One has been climbing his way up the saturated Las Vegas nightclub industry – quite possibly the most competitive place a disk jockey could be. And for the last six years, he’s aligned himself with the illustrious N9NE Group, with current residencies at all of the venues inside the Palms Casino, including the world’s only Playboy Club.  While one turntable may have slowed, the other has picked up the beat.

I met Ben a few weeks ago at “MBK Fight Night,” a Muay Thai event here in Bangkok. He was fresh off his honeymoon on the beaches of Thailand, and as humble as ever.

FCF: Ben, thanks for taking time out for us. Let’s jump right in: The MTV show left your newfound fans with some gaps. Can you fill us in on how you came to be on True Life as well as on your post-show life transition?

BG: Well basically it was as easy as MTV approaching Master Toddy about it. Kit and I were the senior students in the school and pretty much in the prime of our careers- well I was more towards the end of mine.  Kit is still banging away. As far as post-show transition goes, I had already shifted my focus more towards my DJ / producer career by that time, so it wasn’t too drastic of a change.

FCF: You’ve been training and fighting in Muay Thai since the 90’s. What changes have you noticed in the sport since then? What impact has the rise of MMA had on these changes?

BG: The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the popularity and the amount of events. When I was coming up fights seemed to be few and far between. We had proper training but not that many fight promotions to be on. It seems MMA has taken the spotlight, but that trickles down to Muay Thai since most of the fighters use it along with Jiu-Jitsu.

FCF: The training to be Ben Garcia, elite Muay Thai fighter, was notoriously intense. Tell us about the training and preparation involved in being DJ OB-One. What are some unexpected similarities between being a Muay Thai fighter and being a DJ?

BG: Haha, well I can’t say there are many similarities between the two, but what I will say is that Muay Thai training with Master Toddy has definitely helped me in all aspects of my life.

FCF: What is something your current fans and supporters may not know about you?

BG: I started fighting when I met Master Toddy at age 17 and I am now turning 36 this year. No big secrets…I’m getting old! Haha.

FCF: Thanks for your time, Ben. We wish you all the best!

BG: Thank you for interviewing me. Best of luck to you and your fiancée with your stay in Thailand. Hope you fall in love with the land and culture as I did.

Here are a two links to Garcia’s current music project:


Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter turned award-winning poet and writer.

posted by FCF Staff @ 11:19 am
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