Muay Thai Star Joe Schilling Won’t Be “Owned” For “Less Than Minimum Wage,” May Fight For Nick Diaz, GLORY
By Joshua Molina
Joe Schilling loves to fight. Combat is how he puts food on the table for his three and seven-year-old kids.
But the Muay Thai fighter hasn’t thrown a punch or a kick in a fight since last October.
Now, after months of trying to get a paycheck, Schilling has decided to cut ties with Las Vegas-based Muay Thai promoter Lion Fight, and find a fight on his own – so he can get paid. He said he’s talking with GLORY about fighting on the kickboxing league’s June card at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, and he said he plans to transition to MMA and possibly debut for Nick Diaz’s upstart promotion, WAR, in January.
“I would still like to fight for Lion Fight, but I am not going to get owned by anyone,” Schilling said. “I have two kids and a family to take care of.”
In the increasingly competitive business world of combat sports, Schilling found himself in an awkward position shared by many fighters looking to make it big; should he sign an exclusive contract with one company, or shop his skills around to as many promotions as possible in order to maximize his earning potential? It’s a predicament in which fighters have to choose between loyalty to their promoter or loyalty to their families.
Lion Fight, Schilling said, wanted him to sign an exclusive contract to fight for the company leading into the promotion’s card on July 26 where he was supposed to fight Charles Byrd.
Schilling told Full Contact Fighter that it didn’t make sense for him to sign the deal because the guaranteed money wasn’t big enough and that he wasn’t getting enough fights with Lion Fight to begin with. Schilling fought three times for Lion Fight in 2012 and said that he earned less than $50,000 that year and “less than minimum wage” in California.
He didn’t have a lot of motivation to fight Byrd either, a guy with no major Muay Thai experience. He described it as a a fight where he had nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Schilling, 13-5 (10 KOs) said guaranteed contracts work in theory, but only when the promotion can guarantee fights. He only fought three times in 2012 for Lion Fight and wants to go back to fighting once every two months.
He was supposed to fight at Lion Fight 9 in March but was pulled from the card for medical reasons. After his knockout loss to Eddie Walker in October, Schilling didn’t get an immediate CT scan. He got a CT scan several days later in California, but not the night of the fight in Las Vegas.
Even thought Schilling said his California CT scan showed no signs of a concussion, the Nevada State Athletic Commission had concerns about letting him fight on the March Lion Fight 9 card because he didn’t get the CT scan the night of the knockout loss. He was pulled from the show.
“I didn’t break any rules,” he said. “I just didn’t do what they wanted me to do.”
Schilling said he has no hard feelings toward Lion Fight and would consider fighting for them again, but right now he has to fight and he’s not signing an exclusive contract with anyone unless the money is sufficient enough to provide for his family.
“I am the biggest draw they have ever had,” Schilling said. “I know what I am worth. They know what I am worth. I know I am wanted on every kickboxing show in the U.S.”
Schilling said he is ultimately headed for MMA because that’s where the money is.
“There are some good things happening,” he said. MMA brings a new challenge, with a different kind of a workout and grind. He said he’s been training Muay Thai for 12 years.
Schilling, who is friends with Nick Diaz, said he was offered a fight on Diaz’s January card. Wherever his path takes him, Schilling said he is motivated to fight and to fight often, and he won’t be controlled along the way.
“I haven’t fought since October, which means I haven’t gotten a paycheck since October,” Schilling said. “Lion Fight wants exclusive contracts. That doesn’t work financially for me to take care of my kids.”
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Contact reporter Joshua Molina at firstname.lastname@example.org.