Gyms of The World

Thailand is the home of Muay Thai, but like a game of Chinese whispers, the message has changed into to strange and wonderful versions the world over. The Dutch have clearly developed their own method, while nations like Brazil have become a force of their own on the world stage. JARROD BOYLE examines some of the jetsetting kickboxer’s options. 


Thailand is Muay Thai’s origin, the stand-up martial art practised as a sport which bears the strongest resemblance to modern kickboxing. It is also mercifully close to Australia, and courtesy of its third world economy, relatively cheap.

WMC Koh Samui
The WMC (World Muay Thai Council) gym was the first to understand that a particular – possibly more insane than average – traveller would enjoy the combination of a tropical holiday with brutal, train-til-you-drop Thai boxing workouts. While the camp provides access to a long list of holiday pursuits (elephant rides among them), don’t be fooled – it has hosted a list of fighters as illustrious as Mark Hunt, Paul Slowinski and even Belorussian K1 giant, Alexei Ignashov.
Located on the island of Koh Samui, it’s a short plane ride from Suvabanharmi airport. Once arrived, you have a choice of accommodation, ranging from fan cooled dormitories to private, luxurious air-conditioned rooms. The island regularly hosts fight-nights at the local stadium, so whether you’ve trained for two weeks or two years, you can be matched against either a foreign or Thai opponent.

Fairtex – Pattaya and Bangplee

The original Fairtex camp at Bangplee – a half-hour’s drive from Bangkok – is built at the front of the block of land belonging to its owner, textiles magnate and Thai boxing impresario, – -. Home to an impressive stable of fighters, Bangplee boasted a good standard of accommodation and included meals. Far from anything vaguely distracting, once billeted at Bangplee, you can be sure that little will interfere with the two sessions per day, six days a week training regimen.
The Pattaya camp is more along resort lines; the guest rooms are far more reminiscent of a hotel. The complex also boasts tennis courts, a climbing wall and a fully equipped gym. Pattaya beach is a short walk down the end of the street and Fairtex stadium, a brief drive, provides a location where aspiring trainees can test their skills against a matched opponent.


The original Sityodtong gym, also located on the outskirts of Pattaya, has produced more champions than any other gym in Thailand. It has also played host to many of the world’s most famous foreigners, from Ramon Dekkers to Rob Kaman to our own Wayne Parr. Training at Sityodtong has become a rite-of-passage for many foreigners aspiring to success in Muay Thai.
Its founder, Kru Yodtong, has successfully franchised his gym around the world. There are branches in Australia, the US and Europe.


Europe has a diverse range of gyms and teams. The world’s most successful K1 nation, is the obvious choice, but Eastern Europe is catching up, given the number of champions coming from that region. The Dutch have a different training style of more drills and sparring with far less focus on pads and bags. Europe is the ideal destination for the heavyweight fighter.

Located in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, Chakuriki was founded in 1972 by head-trainer, Thom Harinck. He began teaching his own style, called Chakuriki, which was a fusion of boxing and karate techniques. Naturally, this grew to become Muay Thai. The gym has played host to many emergent champions, most notably Peter Aerts.

Golden Glory
Golden Glory/Team Dekkers Sportschool is located approximately two hours train-ride from Amsterdam. It boasts the largest roster of successful K1 and MMA fighters in the world. Golden Glory is the ‘A’ class team and closed to the general public, but ‘B’ and ‘C’ class fighters training sessions are open. The team’s two trainers are Cor Hemmers and his son Ramon Dekkers, the most famous European to ever don the gloves in Thailand.

Bad Company

Leeds Muay Thai, named ‘Bad Company, was founded by Richard Smith in 1992. The gym has gone on to host a number of European and World champion fighters. One of the head instructors, Lisa Houghton-Smith, is a former world champion and remains highly ranked in both boxing and Muay Thai. The gym regularly features guest instructors from Thailand.

Eastern Europe

Golden Glory has a satellite gym in Romania, and many of the K1s most powerful emergent fighters are from this region. It is difficult to find any of those gyms, however, via Google search. The Chinuk gym currently trains Andrei Kulebin, as well as having produced Zabit Samedov and Alexei Ignashov. Belarus, formerly a part of the USSR, was significantly affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and Chinuk doesn’t show up on google search. If any of you intrepid readers make it out there, let us know.


Weerasakreck Fairtex Muay Thai Gym
Weerasakreck Wonpasser opened Japan’s first Muay Thai gym in 1997, in Tokyo. He now has training centers around the country. Wonpasser originally found himself in Japan in 1991, fighting the Japanese kickboxing champion. He successfully defeated him, and a string of bouts followed, from all of which he emerged the winner. In those days, kickboxing gyms in Japan were very strict. “I found them all kind of oppressive. So I told myself, ‘If I’m going to get people to come and pay every month, my gym has to be what they want.’ So I put up a big sign that said, ‘Lose weight and kick that stress!”

Silver Wolf Kickboxing Gym
Masato, Japanese K1 Max 2003 and 2008 winner and champion metrosexual, now owns and operates his own gym in Tokyo.
How could anyone not want to train at a place called ‘Silver Wolf Kickboxing Gym’? Imagine what it will do for your hair!


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taken the mixed martial arts world by storm. Brazil has also been producing kickboxers of the highest calibre for some time and given that kickboxing is a significant part of a strong MMA fighter’s arsenal, most gyms will offer both jiu jitsu and Muay Thai as part of their training syllabus.

Gym Thai Boxe
Founded in 1999 by Master Osmar Dias Fernandes, the gym now claims over 1,500 members. It has built its reputation on its fighters. The head Thai boxing instructor, Julio Borges, is currently ranked amongst the best Muay Thai fighters in the world. Thai Boxe also coaches Wanderlei Silva, Fabricio Werdum, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Cris Cyborg and Evangelista Cyborg.

United States

Las Vegas is swiftly becoming one of the most powerful epicenters of world fight sports. Long the home of professional boxing, the UFC has continued to increase the desert city’s reputation in relation to fighting. Many American fighters train here, as well as fighters from other countries, such as Wanderlei Silva, opening their own headquarters.

Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Academy
Master Toddy had been training fighters in Las Vegas long before the MMA boom. He has trained many of the UFCs biggest names, including Randy Couture. Equally  famous for training women, courtesy of the television show ‘Tuff Girls’, he is well-known to Australians as having trained Angie Parr. (Be sure to check out the website, if for no other reason than to see Toddy with an afro).

TapouT Las Vegas
TapouT Las Vegas is what you’d expect from the world’s most recognisable MMA brand; impressive and market-driven. While the facility is top-notch, it is geared to making as much money as possible out of would-be trainees.



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