Every fighter who steps into the ring will have a story about how they got to that point and what drives them to succeed. For some it’s about challenging themselves athletically, for others it’s about the quest to be number one. For Jayden ‘Wraith’ Wright (6-0-0) it’s a much more complex story of despair, hope and recovery.
With only six fights to his name, Wright is still in the infancy of his fight career. A kickboxer from the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, he knows how far his has to go on the journey ahead but also stops to acknowledge the path that has got him to this point.
A once troubled teenager who lacked direction and purpose, Wright dropped out of school in year 9 and for years struggled to find a positive path forward. Whether it be the influence of others or normal youthful curiosity, Wright began to experiment with a host of different drugs, from marijuana to ecstasy to speed – he tried it all. It was not until he found the drug ice that the wheels well and truly fell off the wagon.
Not one to shy away from his past, Wright details a period of ice usage that started as a recreational pursuit but soon evolved into a regular addiction.
“I came to a point where I was so off my head and delusional that I found myself in a situation where I could have killed someone” Wright recently told Fight News Australia.
“Towards the end of my ice addiction, I had a verbal altercation with the stepfather of my girlfriend at the time. It was ugly and could have ended with me being incarcerated for a very long time”.
“A few days later, and finally coming down from that bender, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “I’m done, I’ve had enough”. That was a crucial turning point for me”.
It was a fork in the road moment for Wright, who having battled with addiction for years, now had a decision to make. Realising that his all or nothing approach to life was what led him to addiction, Wright made a choice to put that personality trait to better use.
“I possess a very strong, addictive personality. I go into everything I do at 110% and unfortunately, that meant drugs at the time”.
“I thrive on routine and structure. So, I turned a negative addiction and lifestyle into something positive by throwing myself into a daily gym routine, where physical movement played a huge role in repairing me both physically and mentally”.
The decision paid dividends, and in early 2014 Wright walked into the XFC gym for the first time.
“I started in the beginner class as an uncoordinated, frustrated novice. Enter coach Dion Douglas, and from there on every day was, and is, about my sport and bettering myself as a human being”.
Four years later and Wright is now an undefeated professional kickboxer with a new direction in life. He returns to the ring on Friday following a decisive victory over Cairns fighter Corey Walter in November last year on Rumble in the Jungle 39. His last fight of the year, Wright made quick work of the interstate visitor, finishing him in the first round with a series of devastating body shots.
With improvements to his skills seemingly arriving with every fight, Wright attributes his continued success to his coach Dion Douglas and the support team at his gym.
“My coach ensures that every camp is harder than the last, to make sure that I’m constantly progressing and evolving”.
“Let’s see how far a fighter can get without a superb trainer and high-level sparring partners. I’m infinitely grateful for my coaches, sparring partners and supporters. I tell them all the time; no you, no me”.
In what was a breakout year for the rising star, his toughest test came in October 2017 when he stepped up multiple weight divisions to take on Abdulmunim ‘Mini’ Nachar for the World Kickboxing Federation (WKBF) Victorian 84kg title. Preferring to fight between 72-74kg and with Nachar often fighting around 90kg, Wright would be at a disadvantage before the first bell had even rung.
“I have a very hard time saying no to fights, so when Joe Nadar offered us Mini at a catch weight of 84kg with the WKBF Victorian Title on the line, it was an instant yes from me”.
“I knew a fight with Mini would be head-to-head from start to finish, a guaranteed fight of the night. Sometimes you need to do it for the crowd”.
And fight of the night it was, with Nachar and Wright trading shots back and forth in what was a great example of high-level kickboxing.
“Although I won every round, there was nothing easy about it – I had to dig deep that night”.
The ability to dig deep and adapt seems to be at the core of who Wright is now as a fighter and person. He will need to adopt a similar approach when he enters the ring next Friday night against Leone Charalambous (6-4-0), a fighter who admittedly Wright and his trainer know very little about.
“I know he has roughly double my in-ring experience, I know he’s fought and won in Thailand, but that’s about it. As far as strengths and weaknesses go, we have no idea”.
“Usually Dion will formulate a blueprint to victory and I’ll implement it to perfection on fight night. The big difference this time around is that we don’t have any footage of my opponent”.
“I’ll need to adjust and adapt in the ring. All great fighters do it, so it will be a good test for me”.
Being given the opportunity regularly to feature on Powerplay Promotions, the Melbourne Pavilion must almost feel like a ‘home ground’ for Wright who says that fighting on these shows is ‘an absolute dream’.
“I love performing on Powerplay Promotions. They are all classy professionals who always put on a world-class event. The fighters are treated and handled impeccably by the Powerplay crew and I am blessed and honoured to be making my fourth appearance on the show”.
While often featuring a variety of fights including both kickboxing and muay thai, the promotion continues to cement their place as the premier K1 event in both Australia and New Zealand. With other promotions and fighters increasingly turning their focus to MMA and muay thai, Wright believes traditional kickboxing still has a place in the combat sports landscape.
“Kickboxing/K-1 rules fights will always have a spot in the heart of fans because it’s the fastest paced combat sport. The fights are short and uninterrupted. It’s non-stop action”.
“This is the main reason I chose to compete under these rules. I want my name to be synonymous with exciting fights. I’d rather lose than be considered a boring fighter. You can expect me to put my chin on the line every time”.