Alex Gong Remembered

I’d like to thank Lynda Chunhawat for contributing this article about Alex Gong.  This is in memory of Alex and his many contributions to Muay Thai as the 6th anniversary of Alex’s tragic death draws near. There’s often a lot of hyperbole and nonsense about Alex Gong that made it to print.  I think its most appropriate someone who knew Alex write this tribute to his memory. Alex Gong’s titles:

National Siam Award “Best fighter of the year (2001)
K1 Super-Fight winner (2001)
K1 Super-Fight winner (2000)
ISKA Lt. Middle weight world champion (1999)
ISKA Lt. Middle Weight N. American Champion (1998)
ISKA Super Welter weight Inter-Continental Champion (1997)
WMTC Super Welter Weight N. American Champion (1996)
IFCA Lt. Middle Weight US national Champion – Amateur (1995)

Alex Gong remembered

By Lynda L. Chunhawat

Today is August 3, 2009, and it has been exactly 6 years since Alex Gong was killed.   I knew Alex for 6 years and saw him on a nearly daily basis.  He was an incredibly intense, busy, perpetually moving Type A personality who managed to give anyone who would listen a love and appreciation for the sport of Muay Thai.  A lot of people have forgotten but not me.  Time has not healed my sadness.  I still miss him.

I could fill your mind with page after page of stories about Alex but I won’t.  As someone who truly misses him I feel selfish and want to keep my memories to myself.  After someone is suddenly taken it is very common to canonize them, but in Alex’s case there were some who were incredibly insensitive and chose to speculate publicly on what happened.  I was there; it was a defining moment for me to see that and in that instant my life changed too.  He was by no means perfect and I don’t pretend to have been a best friend in fact we fought all the time. Frankly few people have the ability to make me as mad as he could and I think it was mutual.  The best part of saying that is it really reminds me that our core group of people who worked, trained and fought together really were a family.  Families fight and we had doozies.

Meeting Alex and joining the local Muay Thai community was wonderful and helped establish friendships that typically would never have occurred let alone lasted.  In our gym you could literally find exotic dancers, police officers, journalists, investment bankers, punk rockers and college students in the same class.  My very best friendships developed from that experience.

What you already know about Alex but may have forgotten is that he was a driving force behind Muay Thai in the U.S. in the late 90’s and early part of the millennium.  He truly devoted his life to the sport.  He had one amateur fight and then promptly turned professional and amassed an in impressive record.  Alex used to always mimic our trainers mantra of “train hard, fight easy”.  He would fight anytime, anywhere, anyone.  He once fought on live television against a lesser opponent with an active staph infection.  3 days prior to the fight he was in the hospital.  Yes the end result was he lost the fight but still managed to go to decision. A lesser fighter would have bowed out or made excuses. Not Alex. This particular story has never been made public but it is definitely one that exemplifies what Muay Thai meant to Alex.

He spent tireless hours thinking about fighting, analyzing fighting and looking for ways to improve the image of Muay Thai.  His camp was the catalyst to the once very active smoker community in the Bay Area.  He conceptualized a smoker community that would include tournaments and events that occurred with regularity.  They were monthly and had weight classes and participation of more than a dozen schools in fact there were times when we would tell people we had too many competitors and we couldn’t accommodate any additional people.  This model set the tone for smokers all over and existed in the Bay until less than a year ago.

He suffered a back injury about 2 years before he passed away and that kept him from training and fighting but in his last few months he started to train again and on his last day it was one of the most fun days the “old crew” had in years.  Loads of silly things, gross things all wrapped up in intense hardcore training.  All the strain of the previous few years had been lifted for a bit until…

What I’ll remember most about Alex is he fostered the now lifelong passion for Muay Thai I thank him for that.  What I would like for each reader to remember is to just…remember.  I could go on and it’s been difficult to condense this incredible story, there is no way to do it any justice so Alex just know that we still think of you and I hope you have peace where you are.


Thanks to Jorge Alvarez Rios for the nice video tribute to Alex Gong

6 Responses to “Alex Gong Remembered”

  1. still miss you buddy.

  2. Alex was a true friend and an amazing competitor. I often wonder where he’d be if he was still with us. His presence in the gym pushed me to get better. This great sport would would be even greater if he was still with us.

  3. What an incredible man! Didn’t know much about his sport while on a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco in the summer of 2000. He sat with myself and my wife the entire flight. He shared with us his life experience to Tibet as a child and his reunion with his Mom and then his present life. We also “Shared” and he listened. It is fabulous to see that he is still remembered

    • Absolutely. Alex Gong was a 100% original. And to echo Eric’s comments: Alex brought this sport to public awareness in the USA in a way that really hasn’t been quite duplicated since.

      • I know I’m late to this party but I just remembered a great Alex story. I was sparring at Fairtex in Chandler AZ, Alex was there looking to jump in. Jean Claude and Ganyao were also there with us more so to coach the sparring. I accidently went upstairs with a kick(I say accidentally BC he was a fly-in student paying to stay and train. Really, I shouldn’t have gone north of his chest. But before I could even turn around,Alex was geared up and ready to work. And we went at it for 3 or 4 rounds. He was a brilliant tactician. He could piss off the Dali Lama. I still loved working with him. Nobody ever made me want it as badly as he did. We had that kind of relationship. We lived together, ate together, trained together. If he pulled ahead of me on a long run I’d find another gear and have to catch him. Before social media, I was never good at keeping in touch. Alex, however, when he moved to San Francisco, was one of the exceptions. I really wish he could’ve seen Cariaso get to the UFC and challenge for a title. I wish he could’ve seen Weidman win the title. And see Jean on the silver screen with Jet Li. I don’t feel angst anymore when I think of him. Ironically, I feel a sense of peace. Maybe he’s still helping me be better. Rest easy my friend. Alex F-14 Gong. 1970-2003. “It’s not the dates matter, it’s the dash”

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