FLASHBACK: WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and welterweight prospect Nick Frese at Workpoint Studio in Thailand back in March (Photo: Hustle Boss)
By Chris Robinson
When I first visited Bangkok, Thailand earlier this year, I honestly knew it was a trip that was long overdue.
I had always heard great things about the fight culture in Thailand, and in 2015 my friend and former fighter Monyette Flowers really began putting the idea into my head about giving the country a visit. I finally made my first trip this past March and it was well worth it.
Even though I only stayed a little over a week, it was enough for me to get a feel for the city of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and the primary location where I stayed. While in Bangkok I was able to link up with undefeated fighter Nick Frese ahead of his eighth professional boxing bout, inside of the Workpoint Studio just outside of Bangkok.
In addition to covering Frese, I was able to get a view of other things going on in Bangkok, including interviewing WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Mixed Martial Arts veteran Dominique “Fallen Angel” Robinson, as well as “Exercise Physiologist” Brett Taylor, who runs the “Body By Beast” training studio in town.
And, as I was covering Frese in training in the final days before his fight, I was able to get an up close view of the Sitsongpeenong Muay Thai Training Camp in Bangkok where he was working out of. Frese trains with Sitsongpeenong’s head boxing coach, former fighter Panieng Poontarat, a previous pupil of respected Cuban trainer Ismael Salas who went 28-1 (8 KO’s) during his professional career.
I was really taken aback by everything that the Sitsongpeenong camp had to offer the more I became acquainted with the facility. The gym serves as training grounds for one of the top kickboxers of the world, Sittichai Sitsongpeenong, reining Glory lightweight champion, as well as a bevy of other high-quality amateurs, professionals, and top-class trainers.
I became very interested in the set up of the Sitsongpeenong camp, especially the fact that the gym serves as a temporary home to both Thai and foreign fighters who were either preparing for upcoming fights or working on their craft. Unlike many boxing gyms in America, where fighters will simply come in during training times and then return to either their home or temporary training base, at Sitsongpeenong the fight culture was more of a way of life, as several of the fighters who train their also live their temporarily.
Upon returning to America following my visit, I become more and more intrigued by everything that was going on in Thailand, especially inside of the Muay Thai camps across the country’s many cities and provinces. I also realized just how much of the land I still need to check out, as there is heavy Muay Thai training in places like Chiang Mia, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Tao, Pai, Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and several other areas.
I soon realized that coming back to Thailand was something I had to do, and that it was going to take a very serious approach from me in order to accomplish everything I have in mind.
As I type this article, I am presently back for another visit to Thailand, once again in Bangkok for some unfinished business. I will be here for most of September, god-willing, and my goal is to discover as many gyms and camps as possible, while covering the people and stories inside of the places I come across.
This particular trip may only see me branch out to more areas around Bangkok, but I’ve grown to have such an affinity for all of Thailand, that I know I will be returning after this trip in the coming months to explore other areas of the country.
And, with such a vibrant city in front of me in the form of Bangkok, I ask myself “Where do I begin?”. And perhaps that is the most fun part, as I’m not even sure which direction this series will take me on this trip. But I’m determined to find out.
Stay tuned for much more.
Chris Robinson can be reached at CRobinson@hustleboss.com