Like most boys, I was into action movies and made heroes of the actors and their characters. I always wanted to learn some type of martial art, but never found one that I enjoyed. As I got older, I began to watch the Muay Thai fights that were on television from time to time and wanted to learn the style.
While looking for schools, I happened to find a Muay Thai school named Siam Muay Thai on the east side of Indianapolis. I went there to see if it was a real Muay Thai school or a Karate guy in American flag pants who had added leg kicking to try to sell what he was teaching as Muay Thai.
When I got there, I met Sakasem Kanthawong. He was finishing up class and I was looking at the different fight posters on the wall of his fight days. I was happy to find out that he was in fact Thai and had trained in a popular Muay Thai camp. So it began. I stayed at the gym for 6 years. In that time I split my training under Sakasem, and then Matee Jedeepitak.
Who are your heroes?
Matee Jedeepitak – When Matee first came to the gym, I thought I was already knowledgeable in Muay Thai. I also thought that I was a good fighter, having beaten the IKF national champion who had been trained by a former Rajadamnern Stadium Champion. The first time I saw Matee hit a bag, I realized I knew absolutely nothing. Everything he did looked not only perfect, but effortless. I remember thinking to myself “That’s real Muay Thai”. Not only was he a former Lumpinee Stadium and World Muay Thai Council champion, but also he was probably the nicest guy you could ever meet. He really made me realize that it’s better to go through life with a quiet confidence, to be laid back and polite, as opposed to thinking you have to act like a tough guy walking around with a chip on your shoulder. In the ring, I learned that you didn’t have to walk through your opponent’s attack and try to out-tough a guy. In fact, moving, countering and out smarting your opponent is a much more enjoyable way to fight!
It was an absolute privilege to train with him. I wish he were still here in Indianapolis.
Samart Payakaroon – He is considered by many to be the best Muay Thai fighter ever. He was also a Boxing champion. Samart could do it all. Offense, defense, inside, outside, knock you out, out box you: he was good with all his weapons. He was a master technician.
Chatchai Paiseetong – Sometimes referred to as “Samart 2” after his mentor, Samart Payakaroon. Chatchai was also a World Champion who stylistically reminds me of a mix of Matee and Samart. He is another well-rounded technician with good feet and movement, good hands and throws. I enjoy watching his old fights.
Saenchai Sor Kingstar – Another technician, he blends new and old techniques for a style that sets him apart from the rest. Another well rounded fighter and champion.
What encourages you to teach Muay Thai?
First and foremost love for the sport. Muay Thai has so much to offer people from all walks of life. I enjoy seeing people gain self-confidence from training. Sometimes it’s kids who weren’t considered athletic enough for school sports thriving above and beyond the level anyone considered possible; Sometimes it’s the person who wanted to be happy with the person they saw in the mirror, and now have come to be. And then there’s the competitive Muay Thai students who like I once did, get their first taste of real Muay Thai and never look back as they learn and improve.