You might have heard Daniel Ketley’s story. On June 8, 2012, something happened and Daniel was pretty much left for dead.
“A fractured skull which required 45 stitches, hemorrhaging and compression on the brain, air bubbles in the brain, a shattered eye socket, jaw broken in three places, four lost teeth, a fractured vertebra, nerve damage to his neck and shoulder, and a fracture in the skull between his nose and upper lip.” 
Daniel didn’t die though. He survived and continues to thrive. Daniel isn’t defined by what happened to him, but it is a part of his story. Therefore, this interview isn’t specifically about Muay Thai or being in intensive care, it’s about much more than that. It is about Daniel.
I think that we often forget the complexity of people, and see those who have overcome adversity as free from any other issues. In addition to the accident, what other adversity did you face in your life?
I believe that, ultimately, the true adversity that any of us face is the clouding of one’s own mind. I think that in life we all have obstacles put in our path and are given challenges in life that vary on different levels to how each individual perceives it. For me, no matter what the situation is, the battle is in the mind.
So to answer your question, the only adversity I believe I’ve had to face is the battle within. Beyond that, it’s all about how you take on the challenge you are experiencing mentally. What may seem like an adversity to one person may not be perceived as an adversity to the next.
Following the attack, you must have experienced all types of thoughts, feelings and emotions. In the wake of the accident, what was the hardest thing to deal with and what was the most special?
The hardest thing for me to have dealt with in this experience was the sense of loss, not so much the loss of a limb but that of what was shaping up to be a bright career, while my aim is to be back in the ring next year, the level that I’m at and will reach won’t be the same as where it was/was going.
There have also been treasured experiences during the ordeal, the most being the knowledge and strength I have gained through each trial. Ultimately I’m just grateful that I didn’t lose my mind!
After the accident, did you see anything in a different light?
After whatever it was that happened there was a time-frame where I saw the whole world differently, there seemed to be no light, no end to the tunnel, it brought a darkness I never knew I had out of me. I was resentful and angry, unable to accept that what happened had happened and angrier still that I don’t even clearly remember how I had ended up in such a situation.
There were a lot of thoughts going through my head and no amount of consolation or reassurance that anyone had offered me helped, it was something I had to conquer on my own internally.
I had to relearn to trust other people again and I had to learn to look at myself as I always had… My confidence had taken a huge hit!
But I guess it’s as the saying goes “After every dark night, there’s a brighter day after that” and I perceive this to be true to anyone who truly believes it as I always had before the ordeal (and still do).
After the accident, you received support from people all around the world. Were there any people, relationships or encounters that really moved you or surprised you?
There were many surprises. So many people put their hand out to offer me help through the crisis, from family members to people I didn’t even know. There were also a few that I would have expected to be among them for sure that disappeared or withdrew as quickly as it happened. So for me, it was another learning experience and I’m grateful to both groups.
What role did your family play in your recovery?
My family have been my foundation for my recovery long before I had even set on the path! They helped to equip me with the mental understanding and thought process I would need to get past this ordeal. After it happened, my Mum quit her job (leaving my father as sole-provider) to watch over me as I went through MRIs, X-rays, physiotherapy and operations. When I was bedridden with my jaw wired shut she would be there the exact same time each day with my food-blended-soup in hand and each time made sure I was getting the right amounts of what I needed.
I have seen you train, and your determination and passion is clear. What gives you the fire and the strength to move forward and grow?
At first I started pulling myself together because of my family, I was becoming a burden on the people who loved and cared for me, I didn’t want their pity and I wanted them to know I was still capable of doing anything. I didn’t want them to suffer because of what I was going through.
I also have a little sister I feel responsible setting an example for and need to show her that no matter what curve-balls life throws at you that you can handle it with the right attitude. Since then, the reasons remain the same but the people I do it for have expanded.
You have learnt how to train with one arm. In order to accomplish that, you trained your body physically, but what mental changes did you make?
Training before, I learned to use my core for all movement, whether it’s leaning in a direction, kicking or clinching, most of it came naturally when I started up again. The only change I needed to make was to to run a bit of oil on the old self confidence which was well-rusted. I had to kill any negative thoughts that came to my head as soon as they started.
After I got in the habit of positive thinking the rest just flowed.
My sparring and clinching is back good enough now to keep things even when training.
Do you think that Muay Thai became a type of therapy for you?
Muay Thai has been my therapy since I discovered it!
Who is Daniel Ketley today?
Today I’m a student at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) studying to get into University next year. I’m helping train kids and fighters at Boonchu Gym during the week and trying to keep myself busy.
When I was 19 I got a tattoo on my left shoulder of a wolf howling before a ying-yang moon. The story behind it is a story my parents used to tell me as a child that I have always found to be true, especially with myself. The story goes:
“A group of Cherokee children have gathered around their grandfather. They are filled with excitement and curiosity. That day there had been a quite tumultuous conflict between two adults and their grandfather was called to mediate. The children are eager to hear what he has to say about it.
One of the children pops a question that puzzles him. “Grandfather, why do people fight?”
“Well,” the old man replies, “we all have two wolves inside us, you see. They are in our chest. And these wolves are constantly fighting each other”.
The eyes of the children have grown big by now.
“In our chests too, grandfather?” asks another child.
“And in your chest too?” asks a third one.
He nods, “yes, in my chest too”.
He surely has their attention now.
Grandfather continues. “There is a white wolf and a black wolf. The black wolf is filled with fear, anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The white wolf is filled with peace, love, hope, courage, humility, compassion, and faith. They battle constantly”.
Then he stops. It’s the child that asked the initial question that can’t handle the tension anymore.
“But grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replies, “the one that we feed the most”.
I’m the same person I’ve always been, just stronger through the experience of having gone through the process of feeding both wolves.
Who does Daniel Ketley want to be?
I just want to be.
 – http://www.chiangraitimes.com/australian-daniel-ketley-21-allegedly-beaten-and-left-for-dead-in-phuket.html
Jess Boyd is a half Vietnamese vegan. Her fiancé lives in California, their dog is called Metric and she has a three-legged cat. You’ll find her in between London, America and Asia. She was educated in the West, far removed from the societal parameters that had shaped her parents’ lives, but she had always been motivated to dig deeper and research harder, in order to understand the countries that influenced her family’s lives from the inside out. What began as an exploration of Vietnam developed into a love of Southeast Asia and a journey to better understand its gender roles and women’s rights. At eighteen, Jess left London for Vietnam and ended up in Thailand where she started to look at Muay Thai through this lens. Five years later, this journey has not only taken her into the depths of Southeast Asia, but also into the depths of herself. She is currently studying Southeast Asian languages and cultures, and teaching self-defence to children at risk of human trafficking. Dig deeper with Jess over at dailydesiderata and on Instagram.