By Galen Okazaki
Baxter Humby likes to tell us that “the only limitations you have are the ones that you put on yourself”. For those of us looking for inspiration there are countless quotes out there, most of them by people who have accomplished great things, although in many cases before our lifetime. For me, the best source of inspiration is from those who are living, breathing and walking the earth today. Perhaps that comes from my deeply embedded mantra of actions always speaking louder than words. I have now seen Baxter fight, in person, three times and every time I do I am reminded of just how true and inspiring his words are. Baxter Humby is a fighter…he has always been a fighter. At birth his umbilical cord became entangled with his right arm and as a result, he lost his right arm from the elbow down (a disorder commonly referred to as “congenital amputation”). Faced with this from the start, many of us might have placed limits on ourselves or even crumbled under the weight of public perception. But with a fighter’s heart and the support of loving parents who told him he was capable of doing anything he put his mind to, Baxter would never approach life with the thought of limitations.
Growing up in a rough part of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, Baxter had to deal with a lot of teasing. Kids being kids would tease him about his arm and also about being part Indian. In that part of Canada, Indians were subject to racial prejudice. So from a very young age, Baxter had to fight and defend himself. Lucky for him, his father was a former Canadian Army light heavyweight boxing champ. At age four, his father began teaching him how to box. Growing up Baxter (like many of us) also fell in love with martial arts through Bruce Lee movies. At age 16, he took on a paper route to help pay for his first martial arts classes. He ended up taking Tae Kwon Do and within a year he was competing in Tae Kwon Do competitions. After two years of Tae Kwon Do, a brother of a girl Baxter was dating at the time introduced him to Muay Thai. He instantly fell in love with it and competed solely in Muay Thai from that point on. Baxter was fortunate enough to be able to train with a former Muay Thai world champion from the very start, Arthur Pereira. One of the things Baxter learned early on from Pereira was that by switching his stance, he can use his left arm for both jabs and crosses.
Baxter went on to have an undefeated amateur record in Canada, ultimately becoming a Canadian national champion. Since childhood though, he had always had a dream of becoming a professional athlete. He soon found that it was becoming virtually impossible to find opponents in Canada as no one wanted to fight and lose to a one-armed fighter. He knew that if he was going to chase his dream he would have to move to the United States, so at age 24 he picked up his life and moved to Los Angeles California. Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, Baxter was training with Maurice Travis and was able to find more fights. Baxter eventually ran his amateur record to 32-6, with roughly half of his fights being in Canada and the other half in the US.
Baxter was able to make one of his dreams come true as he eventually turned pro. Over the course of his career he has fought many notable fighters including John Wayne Parr and William “The Bull” Sriyapai (five times). Baxter’s moment of validation though came on September 11, 2004 at the Plaza Hotel Casino in Las Vegas when he won a unanimous decision over Alex Ricci to win his first professional world title as the International World Muay Thai Council’s (IMTC) Super Welter Weight World Champion. To this day, Baxter still is the only congenital amputee to have won a world title in a fighting sport. Since then Baxter has won a number of titles including his current WMC & WBC Super Welter Weight titles.
Baxter now trains with David Huey at the Muay Thai America Gym in North Hollywood CA. His current professional Muay Thai record stands at 40-8. Well into his career at age 38, he continues to remain active as a fighter. Last year (2011) he went 2-1, with a victory over William Sriyapai in April, a split decision loss to Thai fighter Chonglag Keawit in July and in what would prove to the highlight of his career to date, a one kick knock out of Zidov ‘Akuma’ Dominik at the Muay Thai Premier League’s inaugural “Stars and Stripes” event in September 2011. That knock out was featured on ESPN’s “Top 10 Plays of the Day”.
In addition to his Muay Thai accomplishments, Baxter has reached elite levels in many other athletic disciplines. He was a national level middle distance runner who ran for the Canadian National Track Team in Barcelona in 1992 and then again in Berlin in 1994. Baxter also holds Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do and Sik Thai. He also has trained extensively in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Eddie Bravo and Judo with Gene LeBell. Baxter has actually fought in several MMA fights, his goal at one time to make it to the UFC as well.
Now at the twilight of his fighting career, Baxter has been blessed with the birth of his daughter Mila. His “little princess” is the light of his life and will no doubt be the center piece of his post fight career.
Outside of the fight game, Baxter has been very active in assisting others who are facing the same challenges as he has for many years. Among the many organizations that he does charitable work for, he devotes a great deal of time and effort to Operation Rebound. This is a program in which he and others teach MMA to military veterans who have lost limbs while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. As Baxter explains it “it is much more meaningful for a veteran who has lost a limb to be shown MMA technique by someone who has overcome missing a limb and has been able to compete successfully on an international level than a Chuck Lidell”.
In addition to pursuing his fight career, since moving to Los Angeles Baxter has pursued many other interests. Along with his volunteer work, he is an LAPD reserve police officer. He has also acted in several movies and has worked as a double, most recently in Spiderman as a stunt double for Tobey Maguire. But as I write this he is still actively pursuing fights. Fighting is what has taken him to this point in his life. It is his passion and perhaps most importantly it has defined him as a living, breathing example of someone who has indeed refused to live a life with limitations.