How The Hammer cracked expat life

mickey the hammerIn Pattaya, it can get hard not to have too much fun.

‘It can get a grip on you,’ says Mickey ‘The Hammer‘ Strevens.

But he is one of the few residents whose work ethic could never be questioned, having become one of the best-known figures in Pattaya through his sporting activities and media work.

‘Everybody knows me. Everyday I get about five or six people stop me in the streets,’ he says

After pioneering boxing matches in some of Thailand’s most notorious prisons, he has saved lives as a rescue driver and is now a regular face on Pattaya’s TV – all of which is especially impressive given the acreage of ink across his bodybuilder’s physique.

‘I’m up against it because I’m covered in tattoos,’ he says.

In fact, the Hammer’s tattoos are now in retreat. The designs on his neck and across his fingers are now just a faint outline – the result of treatment to create a less intimidating appearance.

Still, his muscular frame and the remaining ink on his tree-trunk forearms – whose deadly impact in the boxing ring won Mickey has memorable nickname –  could well provide a misleading impression if they weren’t combined with a courteous and softly spoken manner.

‘To get on in this town you have to be liked,’ he says.

The other crucial attribute, he says, is ‘tunnel vision‘.

‘Everything I do is tunnel vision,’ he says. ‘Once you dive in the pool, you have to swim the length or you’ll drown.’

Having come out on holiday and decided he wanted to stay, he then went to school for six months to learning to read and speak Thai.

He spent the next year competing as a boxer before organising matches himself in Nonthaburi prison, which he followed by immersing himself in charity activities.

‘I always wanted to help people. If you’re driving along and you see someone lying at the side of the road you want to stop and help,’ he says.

On top of raising money through organising events like arm-wrestling competitions, The Hammer has also qualified as an emergency medical technician a rescue diver.

‘We can do six or seven rescues a day,’ he says.

For the past year he has combined this with presenting his own show, Pattaya Uncut, on Pattaya TV, in which he covers extreme sports, football, Muai Thai and boxing.

Also in the current pipeline is a film script, with some autobiographical elements, set in Thailand’s boxing world.

Getting all this done in a place like Pattaya takes a lot of perseverance, he admits.

‘You have to get a grip on it – or it’ll get a grip on you,’ he says.

Still, given the willpower, Pattaya offers a world of opportunities as well as an ocean of fun.

‘When I go back to England all my mates are still doing the same thing they did 10 years ago,’ he says.

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