Former professional footballer Alexis Lazo, who had blown out his knee playing football in his native spain, left his homeland depressed a decade ago on a journey that sounds every inch like a pilgrimage.

"I've been in sports my whole life since I was a kid in Spain playing football," Lazo said.

"I played on a professional level in second division in Spain in Hercules ... until one day my knee was broken and I had knee surgery.

"I began playing again but didn't play as much because I had pain in my knee.


"One day a friend showed me a movie about the Muay Thai, and that's when I got my inspiration."

Circumstances dictated the move was not immediate, but talking to him now you sense it was inevitable.

"It sounds like a movie - like the movie you have just been watching. That's when you become keen to go there and train and feel it under your skin, you know?

"In that precise moment it was difficult because I had a relationship and a job and a life ... it was quite complicated. Until one day, I don't know lucky or unlucky, everything was finished so I decided to move to Thailand."

The move led to a wild ride in rings across the globe - sometimes to the detriment of his still impressive record.

"I'd fight every two or three weeks sometimes because I was not injured and I needed the money to live and I didn't want to go back home.

"Sometimes I was doing crazy stuff, like fighting on a Tuesday in Thailand or some place and then the next Thursday fly to China or Hong Kong for a tournament.

"When you fight outside of Thailand the money is much, much, much, much better actually - especially in the north."

His time in the ring is coming to an end, but he still believes he has plenty left to show the people of New Zealand.

"I would like to go into the ring a few more times because I feel I can still do things in the ring. But right now my mind is not really focused on fighting."

He trains twice a day, six times a week, and will be offering the experience garnered from six years living in Thailand to build a Muay Thai base from the ground up at the rapidly developing martial arts facility.

"I prepare people to fight, but I don't push anyone to fight. That's your own decision.

"I train you because you pay for training. But I don't push anyone.

"I bring in a real pure Muay Thai. I've been living there for six years.

"I'm happy to be here and can't wait to show the people who I am and what I've got."