A trip to Thailand: for most Australians, it represents an inexpensive holiday. For a smaller few, it’s an opportunity for a Muay Thai pilgrimage. The birthplace of the martial art, Thailand is home to some of the world’s best Muay Thai gyms. It’s a topic 27-year-old Sydney Muay Thai trainer and fighter Liam Hammond, who makes the trip several times a year, knows far more about than most.
“I’ve probably trained at 6 or 7 gyms in the time I’ve been there. The last gym I trained at was called Kiatphontip; about 30 kilometres outside of Bangkok, and that’s more of a traditional Thai-style gym with minimal westerners so more young Thais and experienced fighters there. But I’ve trained at Fairtex before with the likes of Yodsenkai, Naruepol and Kaew Fairtex. I’ve trained at a place called Scorpion gym in Pattaya. I’ve trained at 13 Coins where Saenchai was based out of for a long time, and he’s the number one-pound for-pound best Thai fighter in the world they say.”
Hammond believes that for a Muay Thai purist, Kiatphontip offers the best training.
“The last gym that I trained at (Kiatphontip) had a lot more structure than I’ve ever trained in and a lot of the fighters and quality of the fighters was evident. They’re very structured and they focus on traditional style training. The trainers there were better than I’d ever experienced before just because they give a lot of accountability and they come around and they’re coaching a lot more than a lot of the other gyms. ” said Hammond. “Because a lot of Westerners go there (to other gyms), a lot of gyms tend to take advantage of that. Whereas this gym was nowhere near Westernised, and still had a better mentality than a lot of the other gyms.”
And terms of value for money, Kiatphontip comes out on top too — unless you’re interested in luxury.
“At Kiatphontip; value for money and quality of training is hard to match. I was paying 28 dollars a day to train twice and stay at the camp and for two meals a day. At Fairtex, I would train there twice a day, and it would cost me that or maybe a little bit more, just to train there” said Hammond. “So you train a little bit more for how commercial it is, and if you’re not into the traditional Thai gym, I’m not gonna say its dirty but the best way I could probably compare it is training at your local boxing gym or your Fitness First. Fairtex has a nice air conditioned weights room, it’s got four rings, and Kiatphontip’s got a few different bags, it’s got one ring”
But Fairtex and 13 Coins have a unique appeal if you’re a fan of professional Muay Thai.
“Training there (at Fairtex) is pretty inspiring because you’re training with guys like Yodsenkai and Naruepol there’s probably 4 guys out of that gym that have got numerous world titles. So to train alongside that sort of calibre as a fighter or someone that’s never fought before, I think is something that you can’t do everyday.” explained Hammond. “The fighters that come out of those two gyms (Fairtex and 13 Coins) are probably the most recognised fighters in all of Thailand, so if you’re keen on Muay Thai, most people would have heard of those two gyms, so they’re good for what you gain. I find as a fighter turning up to those two gyms you’d probably gain a lot more than if you didn’t know how, but they still accommodate for fitness (levels); they’re pretty adaptive both of those.”
In 2010, Hammond and NSW Muay Thai fighter Luis Regis founded their own gym. And not surprisingly, the emphasis is on traditional Thai-style training.
“SRG Muay Thai: Myself and Luis Regis, pretty prominent in NSW fighting at the moment, we came up with that name and started running it out of Mundine’s gym in Redfern about 8 months ago. I suppose the friendship Luis and I had really created that and it’s very Thai-style, that’s a reflection of my style and Luis’s training style also; we both have different strengths, which is evident during the classes, Luis is very technical and I’m a very forward style of fighter so you get the best of both worlds.” Hammond said. “We’ve both been to Thailand numerous times as well, and I think going over numerous times a year is what separates our gym apart from other “Muay Thai” gyms. Because the gym’s recently shifted to Gracie in Alexandria, the gym’s been in a building phase to try and get people involved, and obviously because its within a jiu-jitsu place, there’s some up and coming MMA fighters that are starting to train stand-up in the Muay Thai section so it accommodates for everyone. But down the line we see it becoming one of the better Muay Thai gyms around just because of how traditional it is.”
Article by New Era Fighter