There are many people all over the world who hold aspirations of competing in combat sports at a high level but, like all top-class sports, it is extremely difficult to reach the top.
So imagine trying to become the world champion in a combat sport without the use of your right hand. Sounds impossible, right?
Well, Baxter “The One-Armed Bandit” Humby managed to reach the top of his discipline and achieve even more, despite only having one hand.
Humby had his right hand amputated at birth due to his arm being entangled with the umbilical cord.
But this did not stop him from going on and taking an interest in sport.
Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, Humby’s route into sport came in the form of running at 11 years old, and then later in martial arts at 17.
He was so successful at athletics that he actually went on to compete for the Canadian National track team at the Paralympics in Barcelona in 1992 and Berlin in 1994.
And, like many martial arts athletes, Humby fell in love with combat sports through Bruce Lee movies as a child.
But Humby had a more influential figure in his life.
He said: “‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard was my inspiration. I used to watch him with my dad when I was a kid. He was an amazing fighter and now a good friend of mine.”
His father was a former Canadian Army boxing champion and he helped train him but at 16, Humby had to get a job delivering papers to fund his lessons.
“What drove me was so many people saying I couldn’t do it,” he said. “That gave me my motivation, just to prove them wrong.
“Also, my dad said I was going to make a mark in this world and when he died when I was eight, I knew I had to make his words come true!”
During his early Muay Thai career, Humby had an undefeated record at amateur level, the pinnacle of which was winning the Canadian Super Welterweight Kickboxing Championship in 1996.
But when trying to make the step up to go professional, he found it difficult as Canadian fighters were reluctant to get into the ring with him to avoid the possibility of losing to a one-armed fighter.
So, in 1997 Humby relocated to Los Angeles, where he began finding fights and not long after his move, he turned professional.
During his professional career, he fought a long line of noteworthy fighters, including the likes of John Wayne Parr and William “The Bull” Sriyapai.
But Humby’s true moment in the spotlight came on 11 September 2004 when he fought Allessandro Ricci in the Plaza Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.
Humby won this match and as a result, successfully became the International World Muay Thai Council’s Super Welterweight World Champion, therefore becoming the first man to win world titles with one arm, a claim the holds to this day.
Humby said of the occasion: “My crowning achievement would be winning my world title in Las Vegas.
“When nobody said I could be a fighter, let alone a world champion, except the positive people I surrounded myself with.”
Since then, he has gone onto win more titles, becoming the WBC Super Welterweight National Champion (2010), IKKC USA Kickboxing Champion, IMTC World Middleweight Champion and IKBA International Kickboxing Champion.
Another benefit of moving to Los Angeles to further his career has provided Humby with more opportunities to try different professions.
Humby has worked as a stunt double, most notably for Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man 3”, as he punched through Sandman’s chest when filling in for Maguire.
He has appeared in the TV series ‘The Shield’ and even features in the music video of the song ‘Renegades’ by X Ambassadors.
Humby is also a reserve police officer and has participated in the charity ‘Operation Rebound’ in which he teaches MMA to military veterans who have lost limbs serving abroad.
But what gave Humby his drive and focus to achieve all that he has?
“I believe being born with one hand gave me the determination to overcome what people call a handicap,” he said. “And try to make it my mission to be accepted as equal.
“Because in the start of my career it was hard to get fights because nobody wants to beat a guy with one arm and nobody wants to get beat by a guy with one arm.
“So knowing this fact, I would fight anybody who would get in front of me and I earned respect. Then I won a title and I started getting fights.”
And the message that Humby would like to give to all aspiring, disabled sports people is: “I would say ‘the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself’ and find what inspires you to be the best you can be!”
Photo Credit © Baxter Humby