Tommy King and his older brother Louis grew up together in rural Surrey, southern England, the sons of an English mother and an army veteran father from Barbados.
“We were the only black kids for miles around, so you can imagine what went on when we were growing up,” King smiles, shaking his head.
“Me and my brother, we always had rough ’n’ tumble between ourselves when we were growing up and then obviously various encounters with other local lads.
We could hold our own, put it that way. Our dad was a boxer in the army so you could probably say fighting is in our blood really.
“When we got older though, we started getting more respect from these other kids. I don’t know, it was strange. One minute you’re like enemies and then suddenly it was like yeah, we’re all friends now.
“So then we’re at that age where you’re going out to the pubs and stuff. Me and my brother had a bit of a reputation as people who could fight, so that led to other people trying it on, then we would take them out and then that just added to the reputation.”
King’s early fighting career was thus action-packed but highly unofficial. It wasn’t until the age of 22 that he found himself in an actual gym training with actual fighters.
He recalls being at a friend’s house when the friend loaded a DVD of legendary Japanese MMA organization PRIDE FC.
“It was just crazy. I was watching Gary Goodridge, Wanderlei Silva, all those guys. I was hooked on it instantly,” he recalls.
Older brother Louis had started training in kickboxing around that time and Tommy followed him to the gym.
It wasn’t long before he found himself in the ring. He proved popular with promoters, being a heavy-handed brawler who already had a following, although he somewhat sheepishly jokes that he still has “probably more knockout wins from before my fighting career started than after it!”
A brief flirtation with MMA led to King making some appearances in BAMMA, where his brother Louis also fights, but he found it not to his taste.
“There’s too much going on in MMA, too much to think about. I just love to stand and trade, a straightforward scrap, and that’s what kickboxing is all about.”