In 2007 John Wayne Parr starred in the first ever series of The Contender Asia. It featured 16 Muay Thai fighters and was broadcast in the region by AXN.

At the time the sport of Muay Thai was so obscure that it was called ‘The Contender Kickboxer’ in some regions. But it helped establish fighters like Parr and Yodsaenklai Fairtex, who faced off in the final, as international stars.

15 years later his daughter feature in another show that followed almost exactly the same format. The Challenger: Battleground was seemingly scheduled to start filming several months ago:


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Total silence

The show was set to be filmed in Langkawi and the finale was scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur on November 10th. Those fights don’t appear to have ever taken place but apparently it is all filmed and ready to broadcast.

Long before ONE Championship turned Singapore into a global hub for martial arts The Contender Asia was filmed there. It was picked up by Fox in Australia, ITV in the UK and NBC in the US.

The commentator was Michael Schiavello who would go on to become the voice of ONE Championship. Representing Singapore was Zig Zach who might well have been the only Muay Thai fighter in the country back then.

Complete novelty

Within five years Evolve MMA would established itself as one of the top gyms in the region, eventually opening up training facilities all over Singapore. These days everyone in Singapore knows what Muay Thai is with ONE Championship regularly inviting the best fighters in the sport to compete at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But back then the sport was a complete novelty and John Wayne Parr and his fellow cast members were ambassadors and pioneers. His daughter could be set to follow in his footsteps although the location has been moved from Singapore to Malaysia.

Fans of the original Contender Asia Series will be looking forwards to seeing John Wayne Parr’a daughter on the show’s natural successor which should be being broadcast sometime this year.