James Southwood is approaching 40. Vegetarian from birth and vegan for over half of those years, he’s also been a massive presence in the ring-based fight sport of Savate. As a coach he’s trained people to success, as a fighter he’s taken European, British and World honours.
Already this year he’s taken wins at the Budapest Open and then the Helsinki Open. He’s recently taken the British title again, and we have to admit we’re losing count of his British titles. That leaves him unbeaten this year.
When the European Championships in Italy and held, James will have passed his milestone birthday and is already reflecting on his prospects for this non full contact event. Europe has given him a different experience: he’s collected four medals, but none of them are Gold.
“I have form as a two-time European vice champion, with a brace of Bronze medals on the shelf too” says the instructor from the London club. “I have been World Champion once, but so far the European title has eluded me. Maybe this year?”
Aware that he may have already met future opponents at the club competitions he’s attended this year, James considers his prospects.
“My weight and diet have remained constant for a long time now. The only recent change being, depending on which city I travel to, getting vegan food in European destinations is becoming easier. My fitness is good, I get enough bagwork, runs, and sparring partners as I run a Savate club in London, which is my work as well as my play. I believe I improve on my understanding of mental preparation each season. Most of my time is spent coaching and with each iteration I am better able to prepare myself and those around me for the challenges of fight sport.”
Age and experience
To the outsider, age forty may appear to be the twilight of a competitive experience in such an active sport, although in this case there seems to be an incisiveness in key areas of training, mental preparation and diet which may prove otherwise.
Fortunately for James, while we should not doubt his commitment, we should be confident that he will deal with the outcome positively.
“With or without the title, come the autumn, my aim is the same: to continue to enjoy this sport as long as possible. I have no plans to hang up my gloves or boots.”