Australia’s “The Gunslinger” John Wayne Parr has achieved legendary status through his iconic grit and determination. The Muay Thai striker put the legacy of a nation on his back and became an inspiration for his countrymen.
“The Gunslinger” has earned the highest highs and lowest lows in the ‘Art of Eight Limbs.’ Along the way, he’s fought the very best of the sport including Yodsanklai Fairtex, Buakaw Banchamek, Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig, and tons of others. The Australian-born striker was notable in both his Muay Thai and K-1 Kickboxing career.
Who is John Wayne Parr?
|Name:||Wayne Gregory Parr or John Wayne Parr|
|Date of Birth:||May 25, 1976|
|Place of Birth:||Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia|
|Height:||177 cm (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight:||160 lb (73 kg)|
|World Championships:||S1 World Championship, WKA & WMC World Champion|
The Upbringing of John Wayne Parr
Growing up in Australia, John Wayne Parr discovered his passion for martial arts during his formative years. His initiation into combat began with taekwondo, a discipline he undertook at the age of 11. The discipline, dedication, and rigorous training instilled in him a profound respect for martial arts and its traditions.
The reason he started is simply, that it was near his house. Speaking in an interview, John Wayne Parr said:
“I started the sport because near my house, I love martial movies and always wanted to train in something, very lucky Muay Thai was near me … I love everything about Muay Thai, I like all the techniques.”
However, it was Muay Thai that truly resonated with John Wayne Parr. The allure of this ancient Thai combat sport became the focal point of his martial journey. At the tender age of 13, he commenced his training in Muay Thai, showing an innate talent and determination. “The Gunslinger” had his first fight at just the age of 14.
John Wayne in Thailand
As John Wayne Parr delved deeper into Muay Thai, his commitment to the sport intensified. His dedication led him to seek the best training environments and mentors. He picked up regional titles in Australia for a few years before looking at moving to Thailand. Recognizing the need to train at the source of the sport, he soon found himself drawn to the idea of traveling to Thailand, the birthplace of Muay Thai.
In an interview, he explained:
“I moved to Thailand when I was 19. I stayed Sidyodtong for 3 months, then I moved to Loomingkwan to train with Sangtien Noi the rest of the time I lived there.”
During his time in Thailand, he converted to Buddhism. Muay Thai had given John Wayne Parr so much, a lifestyle and a successful career. He believed that he should give something back to Thailand, as the nation has been so caring for him. He explained why he converted to Buddhism and even spent time as a Monk:
“I lived in Thailand for so many years and Thailand helped me make a very good career so I wanted to give something back to the country. I am very happy to experience living in the temple. We learned to put on our robes, we learned chants for receiving food when we walk in the morning, there is Budha studies in the morning and night. Ghost are scary.”
Training and Rise
John Wayne Parr was a hard worker more than anything. His success as a formidable Muay Thai fighter can be largely attributed to his rigorous training and dedication to the art. Upon his arrival in Thailand, Parr soon became a resident fighter in Bangkok. This offered him the quintessential environment to hone his skills. Surrounded by the best, he absorbed the parts of the sport he would need to succeed.
Competing in Thailand proved to be a trial by fire for Parr. Facing off against seasoned local fighters in renowned stadiums such as Lumpinee and Rajadamnern tested his fortitude. These early bouts in Thailand were not just about victories or defeats; they were a rite of passage.
One of his first matches in the nation was a brutal match against Lumpinee Stadium Champion Orono Por Muang Ubon. It was the most painful and bloody match of John Wayne Parr’s career. A severe cut had opened and led to the match being stopped due to how much blood there was.
“The Gunslinger” reflected:
“[My first] Orono fight [was the hardest of my career], I got two cuts getting 21 stitches, one cut went all the way through my eye brow and the most pain I ever felt in the ring.”
His battles against top Thai fighters further bolstered his reputation. making him one of the few non-Thai fighters (Farang) to earn accolades and recognition in ‘The Art of Eight Limbs‘ Returning to Australia with a wealth of experience and knowledge, Parr emerged as a leading figure in the nation’s Muay Thai scene.
Between Muay Thai and K-1 Kickboxing, John Wayne Parr had an incredible career filled with accolades against the toughest opponents the sport could offer. Throughout his storied record, he’s faced incredible fighters such as Muay Thai Great Yodsanklai Fairtex, kickboxing great Buakaw Banchamek, the dangerous Duane “Bang” Ludwig, kickboxing icon Mike Zambidis, Rajadamnern Stadium Champion Lamsongkram Chuwattana, Muay Thai legend Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, and many others.
“The Gunslinger” John Wayne Parr boasts an impressive list of accolades throughout his esteemed career in Muay Thai and kickboxing. Among his notable titles, he secured the WKA World Middleweight Oriental Championship. In 2010, Parr’s skills in the ring were further highlighted when he clinched the WKA Muay Thai World Middleweight Championship at 72.5 kg. Earlier in his journey, back in 1994, he showcased his emerging dominance by becoming the WKA South Pacific Super Lightweight Champion. Beyond these achievements, he also made a significant mark in kickboxing by winning the WKBF K-1 Middleweight World Champion title. Furthermore, in 2007, he added another feather to his cap by securing the WMC Thai boxing Middleweight World Champion title.
However, the most illustrious of his career was winning a one-night tournament to capture the 2004 S-1 Muay Thai World Middleweight Tournament Champion. Upon his retirement, he looked back and said:
“The biggest accomplishment was the S-1 tournament in Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. I had to fight three times in two hours … A million baht, a world title, and a trophy from the Prime Minister of Thailand. And the next day I went down, and every newspaper and magazine had my face everywhere. It was actually amazing … I’m being recognized by Thai’s this is amazing.”
At the of 46, in 2022, John Wayne Parr officially hung up his gloves after a lifetime in combat sports. He wasn’t quite able to capture his 100th victory in his final matchup, but he earned a standing ovation and a $50,000 bonus awarded by the fans to make up for it. In an interview, “The Gunslinger” reflected:
“It’s been an absolute dream to live this dream and travel the world and represent Australia. I hope I can inspire the younger generation to follow martial arts, to follow their own dreams, to not let other people dictate your dream. Just because they want you to do something, follow your own path. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, you don’t want any regrets when you’re older. Live it, love it, and enjoy it.”
He also offered some advice for upcoming fighters, he said:
“Any young fighters out there make sure you train as much as you can, be committed and try and fight as often as you can. If you get beat you learn from your mistakes, you get stronger and you don’t let those mistakes happen again. Just enjoy the process and have fun.”
John Wayne Parr is now using his worldly experience to train several fighters in Australia as a striking coach. One of which is daughter “Jazzy” Jasmine Parr, who is unbeaten thus far in professional boxing. Additionally, he founded a Muay Thai organization that fights in a cage to help appeal to MMA fans around the world.
John Wayne Parr’s journey in Muay Thai and kickboxing serves as an inspiration to countless enthusiasts plus budding fighters across the globe. His relentless dedication, coupled with his unyielding training for the sport, has not only earned him prestigious titles but has also paved the way for the global appreciation of Muay Thai.
As one of the few non-Thai fighters to earn such respect in the birthplace of the sport, Parr’s legacy stands as a testament to the universality of martial arts. His indelible mark on the sport ensures that his name will be revered for generations to come.
On passion for fighting, “The Gunslinger” adds:
“When you win, and you get the crowd cheering your name, you get the adrenaline rush and the goosebumps on your skin, and then you get home, and you’re so excited that you can’t sleep for two or three days because of the high you got from the fight.”
Timothy Wheaton is a combat sports writer who covers MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. Tim is the authority on kickboxing and combat sports journalist who has covered K-1, PRIDE FC, UFC, GLORY Kickboxing, Bellator, ONE Championship, and plenty more.