North American Memories of Lumpinee

•February 7, 2014 • 1 Comment

Introduction by Mike LNg, Story by Michael “Chase” Corley, Wayne Gregory, Dave Zuniga, and Mark DeLuca

Lumpinee Stadium

As the close of old Lumpinee Stadium draws near, many have bitter sweet memories of the old Thailand fight venue that conjures feelings of pain, glory, and happiness simultaneously.  To say history was made here is not the easy flowing hyperbole one typically hears.

Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday Lumpinee played host to the best of Thailand’s Nak Muays doing battle in the ring to determine the true best in Thailand in Muay Thai.  From miniflyweight to Superwelter weight Lumpinee became the standard for the Stadium ranking system of Thaiboxers. Lumpinee has played host to the literal best of the best and it looked like the old fight venue was going to continue for a long time to come as it reached it’s 50th birthday in 2008. But plans to take down the old Lumpinee and replace it with a new very near fight ready Lumpinee have almost reached their fruition.  Michael “Chase” Corley North American Thaiboxer has reached out and collected some stories of North American Thaiboxers’ times in th e famous fight arena now entering legend and memory.

Much Thanks to Michael Chase Corley, Dave Zuniga, Wayne Gregory, and Mark DeLuca for adding their stories.

Wayne Gregory

Wayne Gregory

Lumpinee Stadium will always hold a place in my heart that will never die. It has become the standard of which I teach, the fighter I became, and the humbleness in which I conduct myself.

I am far from anything worth talking about, far from any discussion in regards to that stadium! I however, am relevant in who and what it took to becoming the first American to ever win in Lumpinee Stadium.

I got my chance on August, 8th, 1997, In a sign of mutual respect I fought under the name of Apidej-Noi Fairtex. Apidej Sit-Hirun took me under his wing and treated me like a son. This relationship began in the early 90′s at Fairtex in Chandler, Arizona. When the time came, Apidej took me to the World Muay Thai Council to meet General Veerawut. Apidej vouched for me and I was allowed to fight at Lumpinee Stadium. To that very day I had paid my dues and to this day, carry my respect for that country, its people, and its culture.

I am saddened to learn that Lumpinee will no longer exist in its current form, but nothing saddens me more than the passing of Apidej Sit-Hirun this last year. It only makes sense that I close a chapter with the ending of both significant figures. Our sport has has brought me to many brothers and sisters, it is that indescribable, intangible, sense of family and brotherhood that can only be relative if you know the suffering.

Lumpinee is built on names, greats, legends! It defines Muay Thai! It is our Mecca! To this day, I smell it, I taste it, I fear it, I worship it. I remember every second as if it was a year. I remember the hand wraps which were cast’s. The gloves which were 6oz “soaking wet”. The smell of Thai oil. The gamblers arbitrage to place bet bets and odds. The fighters getting sewn up by doctors on the couch in the back. Having to weigh in butt naked and knowing it was 20 below zero back there, “Thats my story”!  The bullpen, having to watch the fight before yours.. the fight before me was an all out elbow war, GREAT! Im going home with a huge Vagina in the middle of my forehead. I had the best poker face in the house! Truth be told… you couldn’t have squeezed a sesame seed out of my asshole. Thats Lumpinee Stadium!

None of this would be possible if people didn’t believe in me! To them… I owe this story. Philip Wong, for giving me a job as the boxing trainer at Fairtex, Bangplee. Apidej Sit- Hirun, I love you like a Father and think about you everyday! Ganyao, Sakasem, Bunkerd, Pyboon, Jakeet, Ehn, Jongsanan, Nuengsiam, I love you my Brothers! Time and distance passes but always know I hold you dearly in my heart. It is those who believed in me that got me to Lumpinee. Otherwise, it was just another stadium to watch fights in.

 

Michael Chase Corley

Michael “Chase” Corley

I was the Fairtex Bangplee Camp Manager from Dec 2009 – Around April 2011. During that time I also started my professional career in Muay Thai.

So one day after training one of the trainers asked me if I wanted to fight in Lumpinee in a couple weeks. To them this is just another fight, but for me, it was the dream fight of my life. I had only 3 pro fights at this time and really was in shock that I could get this opportunity so soon in my career.

The trainers tell me I’m fighting another Farang (foreigner) and I need to be at 160lbs for the fight. At that time I was weighing 173lbs, but it didn’t matter, I would fight at any weight to fight at Lumpinee.

Since the fight was at Lumpinee, we were to have same day weigh ins. I arrive at 6:45 in the morning of the fight for 8 am weigh-ins, just to make sure I was on weight. I step on the test scale and weigh exactly 160lbs. At this time I am pretty worn down and can’t wait to refuel my body at 8 am!

The promoter then walks up to my trainer and tells him that the foreigner that I was supposed to fight had backed out of the fight, but they have a replacement for me. He then tells me that a more experienced Thai will fight in his place, but I need to lose more weight if I want to fight him. I was already pretty worn from the cut to 160lbs, but this was the chance to fight at Lumpinee, so I’m going to lose the weight. So I put on the sweat suit and ran around the stadium and dropped 3.5lbs and the fight was on.

I had no idea who my opponent was until years later I saw an article about him opening his own camp in Bangkok. His name was Suwat Jorhpromma and had 160 Fights with 120 Wins compared to my 3 Wins 0 Losses coming into the fight.

As for the fight it was one of the most painful fights of my career. The fight was very competitive but I ate a lot of low kicks. So many low kicks that I couldn’t walk right for 5 days. I also got cut twice during the fight, one between my eyes and another on the top of my forehead.

I lost the fight on points, but it was entertaining at least. Of the 8 fights that night my fight was the only one that went the distance.

After the fight I go to see the doctors and they cleaned up my cuts. They take me back to a room and they tell me they can stitch me up right there. After about 30 minutes and 14 stitches later I’m finished up. The doctor gave me some pain killers and told me to come back next week for him to have a look.

After the doctors, I head over to Accounting room with my trainer to pick up my purse for the fight. I knew Saturday fighters didn’t make as much as Tuesday and Friday night fighters but I was interested to see how much I was going to make.To my surprise I only made about $100.00 for the fight. They told me that the crowds had been light due to the political crisis in Bangkok. I didn’t really care, and would do all over again for nothing. Just to step in the ring that so many legends had fought in is priceless. I gave half my earnings to my trainers and went on home.

Funniest part of the story is that when I went to go eat with some friends after the fight my head was pounding! I know I had just fought but it was bad. I went into the restroom of the restaurant we were at and peeled off the bandages to look at the stitches on my head. The stitch job was so bad, and with the biggest gauge wire/thread I had ever seen.  No wonder my head hurt so much.

Told my friends I’m going to head to the hospital to get it looked at properly. The doctors at the hospital couldn’t believe the work done on my head and ended up removing the 14 stitches on my two cuts and redoing them.  I ended up with 22 stiches and my headache went away.

It was the best fight experience of my life.

Mark DeLuca

Mark DeLuca

I am very honored to have fought in Lumpinee Stadium. The fight took place in April 2009. I was training at Jitti Gym in Bangkok in the lead up to this fight. My good friends from England were also training there at the time such as Liam Harrison, Richard Cadden, Darren O’Connor and James France. Jitti Damriram, the owner, got me matched with a Danish fighter fighting out of Sasiprapa gym. Training had been going great with so many good fighters to work with as well as ex-champion Trainers/Padmen.

Like a lot of things in Thailand, things were switched up shortly before the fight and my opponent changed to Allan Wold from Norway who was fighting out of Sor Khamsing gym. Weigh ins were at 6am the morning of the fight and I was a little over the 64kg mark, so I had to jog around the parking lot out back with what seemed like every other Thai fighter on the card. I checked my weight again and we were set to fight. I relaxed for the rest of the day which was pretty easy because fighting over there was natural to everyone so no one put any more pressure on me than there needed to be

As we got to the stadium that night it began to pour down rain. We all sat watching the beginning of the fight card and the power went out during the fight! Luckily, everything was restored and ran smoothly from there. I went in the back room to start getting ready and you can just feel the aura of the history of that place, of how many champions had been in the exact same room. It was pretty surreal. Jitti began wrapping my hands and I asked him jokingly “How many times have you done this? ” and he replied, almost laughing “I could do this with my eyes closed!”

As I sat in the waiting area while on deck for my fight to begin, I couldn’t help but think that Saenchai had been sat on this very bench only two weeks prior on a huge Lumpinee show. The fight that was going on had ended in the 2nd round which meant I’M UP! My corner team consisted of my trainer Camron Sor Vorapin, Liam Harrison, Rich Cadden and of course Jitti. Across the ring was my opponent who had the legend Somrak Khamsing, so between the 2 corners we had quite the team of champion fighters! I went on to win on points in a very technical bout against a worthy adversary. As in most Muay Thai fights, I still keep in touch with my opponent to this day because fighting is a sport but the friendships you make along the way always last longer than the 15 min you’re trying to kill each other!

Dave Zuniga

Dave Zuniga and Jompop in Thailand

I will never forget the first time I stepped foot in Lumpinee stadium. It was a huge Halloween show in 2008. The crowd packed into the stadium inside, while there was heavy rainfall throughout the night. Water was dripping from the ceiling in half a dozen places. Saenchai was competing in the main event against a last minute replacement from Laos. Through my limited knowledge of the Thai scoring system, my thoughts were that the Lao fighter won every round, and I was confused at the decision.

Even before I walked out of the stadium, a realization that I knew nothing about real muay thai had come over me. Since that day, I have been on a seemingly endless journey to fully understand proper muay thai scoring. I have been to Lumpinee stadium countless times now, and have even fought there once, albeit an empty stadium full of echoes. The electricity and nostalgia created there can never be duplicated, but hopefully the new Lumpinee venue can take that aura to a new level.

Muay Thai Kingdom Comes to Texas

•November 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

By Mike LNg

Muay Thai Kingdom

Mauy Thai Promotions in the United States have been a primarily bi-coastal phenomenon but Muay Thai fans and fighters are working hard to build the sport in places less busy for Muay Thai.  International professional Thaiboxer and trainer Michael “Chase” Corley” is among those.

Former Heavyweight Boxing Champ Lou Savarese and Professional Muay Thai Fighter Michael Chase Corley present Muay Thai Kingdom at the Houston Athletic Fencing Center December 13, 2013. The main event features Regional Champions Samuel Mongonia and Kendrik Williams squaring off at 147lbs. Fight Card (Subject to Change):

147 – Samuel Mongonia (Revolution) vs. Kendrik Williams (Karate Mafia)

140 – Jennifer Guerrero (Revolution) vs. Gabriel Lemus (Vongphet)

Heavyweights – Alvin Perez (SitSiam) vs. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Alvarado (4oz)

140 – Uriel Figueroa (Revolution) vs. Alex Chhang (4oz)

147 – Michael Perez (Thai Temple) vs. Robert Bailey (Team Tooke)

110 – Jessica Rosuello (Team Rabaddi) vs. Bebe Laced (4oz)

140 – Jose Tavera (NWC) vs. Cj Garza (SitSiam)

168 – TJ Johnson (Revolution) vs. Adam James Gill (NWC)

154 – John Gorrell (Elite MMA) vs. John Haydon (Kingwood MMA)

147 – Ray Aninzo (Grace Barra Magnolia) vs. Amir Khan (Karate Mafia)

154 – Maurice Horn (Gulf Coast) vs. Luke Crawford (Northside MMA)

160 – Angel Benavidez (Khru Izzy) vs. Brian Murphy (Kingwood MMA)

147 – Oliver Jiminez (Khru Izzy) vs Roman Molina (Kings MMA)

Doors Open at 6pm Fights Start at 8pm December 13, 2013 4997 West Bellfort Houston, Texas More information contact info@savaresepromotions.com

An Interview with Jorge Zarate American Muay Thai Coach

•October 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

By Mike LNg

Jorge Zarate has been a longtime figure on the United States Muay Thai scene.  He has been both a competitor and a coach.  Jorge has labored long behind the scenes while staying out of the limelight, preparing the next and current generation of the United States’ Muay Thai professionals. Jorge Zarate’s influence has been as pervassive on the Unirted States Muay Thai development as it has been silent and unheralded, working with a growing number of world and national champions.  It was a pleasure to finally get a chance to talk to the man who has been working hard behind the scenes and become a mentor to so many in the United States Muay Thai scene.

Jorge Zarate

Jorge Zarate

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You have a long and storied history in sports both coaching and competing. What got you interested in Combat Sports?

I was only 10 years old when I emigrated from Baja California, to the United States. Like most immigrants I didn’t speak any English and I came from very humble beginnings. My mother quickly enrolled me in the local elementary school, Eastmont Elementary. But it was very difficult time for me because of the language barrier. I used to get made fun of a lot because I didn’t speak any English and because of the clothes that I wore, again I came from humble beginnings. Since I didn’t know how to fight back with words, I fought back with my fists. One day my oldest brother just grabbed me and took me to the closest Gym. The gym was the IYBC in Montebello. From the moment I first walked into the gym I fell in love with boxing. My first trainer was Joe Chavez (who worked with Oscar De La Hoya among other boxing greats), one of the best cut man in all of boxing. So that’s how it all started. I had a few amateurs fights both in the gym and in the streets (Chuckles) but never turned pro.

Who was the first person to show you Muay Thai and when were you introduced to Muay Thai?

Oh Wow, It’s a funny story how this happened. I was trying to fight again and back then boxing was very popular so it was hard to get a trainer that was going to dedicate himself just to you. Because there were so many fighters back then. I started looking for something different so I walked into to a Karate gym next to the IYBC Boxing Gym, it was KEMPO KARATE GYM. I walked in there and the owner of the gym told me to kick the bag for 20 minutes. After kicking the bag for 20 minutes he asked me to spar? I quickly said yes!

So, we sparred three rounds. I controlled him with my hands for the first two rounds. In the third round he did a spinning back kick and nailed me right in the ribs, I went back home with bruised ribs.  I was pretty upset about it, so my brother “Art” comes into the living room he notices me walking with some discomfort. He asked me what happened. I said I went to a karate gym and sparred and the trainer caught me with a spinning back kick. My brother said WOW! Then he asked me if I wanted to kick his ass? And I said hell yes. So he said “Ok I’m going to introduce you to someone who teaches Muay Thai”. The first thing out of my mouth was “MUAY THAI? What the hell is that?” My brother said, “Don’t worry I’m going to take you with my co-worker”. The very next day he took me to 32nd and San Pedro in Los Angeles. The house had a barb wire fence all around it. I walk in to the house and there is Montri Sunpanich. He spoke very little English and signaled to me to shadow box. I shadow box and he says very good, then he shows me a tape of a Muay Thai Fight and I completely fell in love with it! Kicks, Knees, Elbows, Punches! I said show me that! I asked how much did he charge? Montri asked me if I would fight for him. I said Yes I would fight, I love to fight. Montri looked at my brother and my brother looked at him and said “Yup he’ll fight anyone”.

Jorge Zarate with Montri Suppanich to the right.

How difficult was it for you to learn Muay Thai from Montri Sunpanich?

It wasn’t very difficult even though Montri didn’t speak much English, we had a very good connection. He would usually give me hand signals, and he would also give me magazines of Muay Thai fighters and point to the picture and that’s what how we communicated.

You work in the East Los Angeles Community Center, where the primary combat sport is boxing. How did you introduce Muay Thai to their program?

As you know Boxing is one of Mexico’s greatest past times. Mexico has such a great history in boxing. So to try and talk people into learning Muay Thai is very difficult because it’s foreign to them. This is why I don’t try to talk them into it. People usually come to me once they see me holding pads for one of my fighters. People that love to fight automatically gravitate to the sport once they see it involves knees, kicks, punches and elbows. Muay Thai speaks for itself, if it’s taught the right way.

Jorge Zarate as young nak muay

  What is the most rewarding thing about teaching Muay Thai in the community center?

Our gym is located in the heart of  East Los Angeles. Gangs, drugs, and violence play a part of the lives of people and kids I train every day. So just having them there with me training them and doing something productive is rewarding in itself. Being able to impact their life in positive way is always rewarding for me, it’s not always about winning fights or turning a fighter into a champion but if you can turn someone that had very little hope and showing them that you believe in them is very rewarding. Sometimes all people need is someone to believe in them and that’s what I try to do everyday.  Especially in the area where our gym is located.

You taught both amateurs and professional fighters. What do you think is the most important thing fighters need to learn?

I teach Hard Work, Dedication, Discipline, Patience, Respect and most of all be humble, always be humble.

Of amateurs and professionals which is the most difficult to coach?

Every fighter is different and challenging in their own way. The key thing for me, is trying to adapt to each fighters style and get my message to them in a way that they will understand is key for me. So I would say everyone is difficult whether its pro or amateur.

David Huerta, Kru Jorge Zarate, Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez, Jorge Zarate Jr

You also acted as an official in Muay Thai. With so much scrutiny on judging and officiating what do you think should be done to improve judging?

The thing is we don’t have many judges that are familiar with the sport of Muay Thai. A lot of the judges we have our MMA judges, MMA referees, boxing judges, boxing referee. So it’s very difficult for those judges to score a fight or ref a fight. Again if we could get some judges or officials that are familiar with the sport or have a background in the sport I think it will help out the scorecards and officiating.
How do you feel Muay Thai has progressed in the last ten years?  What do you think Muay Thai can do to help the sport grow?

Little by little its growing. Glory 10 was a big success.

Since you fought both boxing and Muay Thai what do you think are the most similar skills from one sport to the other?

Everything is pretty similar as far as movement, preparation and the mental aspect of it. The only difference for me is in Muay Thai you have more weapons to use.

What needs to change most in the USA For Muay Thai to grow?

I think the promoters and fighters are all doing a great job to help this sport grow. I mean if you look at Glory 10, how many times do you see two Championship level caliber fighters fight twice in one day (Joe Schilling fought and defeated Artem Levin)? If anything Muay Thai needs to get across to Kids more tournaments for kids, some kind of amateur ranking system that can help build young kids into world class fighters by the time they are 18.

What has been your proudest accomplishment as a trainer of Muay Thai?

Ahh.. I really don’t have one particular moment or accomplishment. I guess I would say its every time I walk into the ring with one of my fighters, it makes me feel proud. Why? Because they believe in me and nothing feels better than knowing someone believes in you and trusts you.

Jorge Zarate and Glory Middleweight Champion Joe Schilling

You worked with many fighters and just recently you were in Joe Schilling corner in Glory 10, what role did you play in Schilling’s Corner?

First and Foremost I want to thank Joe Schilling, Mark Komuro, and everyone from The Yard for allowing me to be part of the their corner it was truly an honor. I just wrapped Joe’s hands and if I saw something that Joe could capitalize on I let Mark know that’s about it.

Any last words?

To all my fighters thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to train you. Every time you stepped in the ring a piece of me was with you. To my brother Art I love you and I thank you for always being there for me. Of course my other brother Montri Sunpanich who taught me everything I know. Last and not least my Family, my Daughter, Son and granddaughter. Irene, Jorgie, Judy I love you guys, you’re my heart.

Thai Fight December 16th Line Up

•December 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

By Mike LNg

Thai Fight 2012

On December 16th, 2012 the Final of Thai Fight’s 70kg and 67kg tournament will be matched and fought.  And on the same date criticisms of Sport Art, the promoter of Thai Fight matching Buakaw soft appear to be answered soon. Continue reading ‘Thai Fight December 16th Line Up’

Borodine Muay Thai – An American Muay Thai Legacy

•December 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

By Mike LNg

Vladimir Borodine

There are few men in the USA that have made as many pioneering and indelible impacts on American Muay Thai than Vladimir Borodine. Vladimir Borodine is chief instructor and owner of Brooklyn, New York’s Borodine’s Gym. It’s been the training home of K-1 fighters, Muay Thai fighters and champions. Borodine has been decorated many times over as a fighter, an official, a coach and is now a virtual fixture in the American east coast Muay Thai scene. With 200 plus fights in Kyokushin and Muay Thai Borodine is a coach who has truly been there and done that. It was my pleasure to finally get to speak Vladimir Borodine for this interview. Continue reading ‘Borodine Muay Thai – An American Muay Thai Legacy’

Warrior FC Muay Thai Championships December 2nd Results

•December 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

By Mike LNg

Warrior FC

Warrior FC was held in the AIS Arena at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, ACT. Warrior FC (Fighting Championships) with two, featuring both Muay Thai and MMA, in one day.

From 4:00pm on the professional fighters’ part of the card was shown and the results are as follows: Continue reading ‘Warrior FC Muay Thai Championships December 2nd Results’

Hippy Singmanee Vs. Chanlit

•December 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

By Mike LNg

Hippy Singmanee

Hippy Singmanee

Hippy Singmanee is a less discussed legend of Muay Thai in Thailand. Of the greatest of tMuay Thai in the 1980s Hippy Singmanee could be included in the top 10 of that company. During his campaign at mini flyweight (105lbs) and junior flyweight (108lbs) Hippy held the Lumpinee stadium champions ships and was virtually untouchable at both weight classes. Continue reading ‘Hippy Singmanee Vs. Chanlit’

 
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