Every time he gets in the ring Baxter Humby knows there is a chance he could be seriously hurt. He understands the risks that come with being a Muay Thai kickboxer and that is what keeps the 38-year-old Palisadian committed to his craft.
Humby is nicknamed the "One-Armed Bandit" because he was born with only half of his right arm, but the native of Winnipeg, Manitoba has enjoyed a more successful career with one hand than most fighters do with two. He keeps active, with well over 80 professional bouts in various disciplines, and will take on anyone, anytime.
No title belts were on the line, but Humby fought Thailand's Chonlag Keawit in the Main Event of Saturday night's “Muay Thai World Stand Off” at the WMC Fairplex Stadium in Pomona and put on a show for the packed house, which included many boisterous "Bandit" fans who braved Carmageddon to cheer on the International Muay Thai Council World Super Welterweight champion.
At the end of five action-packed rounds, Keawit was proclaimed the winner by a split decision. One judge scored it 149-146 and another 148-147 for Keawit. The third judge had Humby winning the fight 148-147.
"I know what I needed to do to beat him, but hindsight is always 20-20," an upbeat Humby said after his first defeat in more than two years. "I should've used more front kicks, but we were both running out of gas at the end. I thought I won the first two rounds, he won the third, the fourth was back and forth and the fifth was a coin flip. When it's close you can't leave it to the judges."
Known as the the "Science of 8 Limbs," Muay Thai is a martial art practiced for centuries in Thailand that is explosive full-contact, stand-up, hand-to-hand combat. Rules allow fighters to use punches and kicks along with the elbows and knees. Rhythmic music called Sarama is played during fights. Saturday's card matched five of the best fighters from the United States against five of the best from Thailand.
"I didn't know anything about him, only that he fights straight ahead," Humby said of Keawit. "He's a real high-level pro with a great record--definitely one of the better guys I've fought. I was ready, the fight was at 154 [pounds] which is my weight and I trained for five weeks, so no excuses."
Humby practices Brazilian jiu jitsu diligently and is a Black Belt in both Taekwondo and Sik Tai. He took up running at the age of 11 and began his martial arts training at 17. He ran for the Canadian National Track Team in Barcelona, Spain in 1992 and in Berlin, Germany in 1994. After winning the Canadian Super Welterweight Kickboxing Championship in 1996 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career and quickly settled in Pacific Palisades, where he has lived ever since.
"I always tell people I fight out of Pacific Palisades," said Humby, who has also appeared in several movies, starring in the film One Arm Hero in 2004 and serving as Tobey Maguire's stunt double in Spider-Man 3. "I love living there. It's home. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
Humby has added motivation to win these days because he fights for more than just himself. He and his wife Sonja bought a condo in the Highlands three years ago and now have a nine-month-old baby girl Mila.
"She's my little princess," said Humby, whose eyes glow every time his daughter is mentioned. "I love her so much. I even took her with me on the Palisades-Will Rogers 10K [on July 4]."
Having a family to provide for has made Humby more wary of the danger in his sport, but it hasn't changed his mentality once the bell rings.
"I've got a hard head and I don't worry too much about getting hit, that's part of the game," he said. "When I'm in the ring I can't think about [what could happen]. You have to believe you're going to win. Otherwise don't go in."
Humby teaches kickboxing classes at and the and makes frequent visits to local schools and the to inspire kids and share how he has overcome his "handicap," though he never uses the word.
"The only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself," said Humby, who is slated to fight again September 2 at Long Beach Stadium. "I thought I won but I have to put this behind me and get ready for the next one."