HISTORY OF THE GYM: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
The history of Rawai Muay Thai starts with an unlikely love story between a professional Thai boxer and a foreign traveler. Tuk and Diana met by chance back in 2003. Diana was a tourist travelling around Thailand and Tuk was visiting his home after fighting in Bangkok. They fell in love and married the same year. The gym was the result of their collaboration. Tuk brought all his Thai boxing expertise from years of fighting professionally in Bangkok and around Thailand. Diana brought her love of adventure, language expertise and resourcefulness.
As a female gym owner, Diana knew not much about running a Muay Thai gym. The one thing she did stress was that the gym had to be open to men and women of all levels, ages, sizes, etc. We wanted to create a gym with a friendly atmosphere where everyone was welcome to learn Muay Thai. Back then women did not fight in Thailand. So very few women trained as well. As women began to show up to classes, the trainers had to “learn how to teach them”. Having never done that, it was a cultural change. It happened quickly though and pretty soon, women were fighting in stadiums, on TV, all over the country. Rawai Muay Thai made a conscious effort to welcome female students to the camp. The gym was a front runner in this effort to teach and promote women to the sport.
Phuket had only one Muay Thai stadium back then, Sappan Hin Stadium, which no longer exists. We would take our boxers to fight there and to stadiums and fairs around the area. One memorable time was when Tuk and his brother Hehm were fighting in Phi Phi Island. It was December 23rd 2004. The next day we returned to Phuket, but some of the trainers and students stayed in Phi Phi to enjoy the island. Two days later the Tsunami devastated the island and they were unable to return to Phuket. It was a scary time, but thankfully, all of our students and trainers were alright.
HISTORY OF THE GYM: GROWTH OF MUAY THAI TOURISM
If you wanted to open a Muay Thai gym in Thailand, these were the years to do it. The increasing popularity of UFC around the world, and of martial arts movies like On Bak helped to propel the growth of Muay Thai tourism in Thailand. More gyms started to pop up all around Phuket. The increase in demand for training centers spurred some of our students and trainers to venture their own ways, opening gyms like Tiger Muay Thai, Sinbi Muay Thai and Asia Muay Thai. Phuket was booming.
Phuket quickly built stadiums to fill the demand for watching live fights. In Patong there are two stadiums, Bangla and Sai Nam Yen, where you can see live fights. In Chalong fights promotions are available in Chalong Stadium, Republic Stadium, Chokchai Stadium and Suwit Stadium. For a small island, Phuket became the Muay Thai mecca and Rawai was a pioneer.
HISTORY OF THE GYM: BECOMING A TOP LEVEL TRAINING FACILITY
Over the years Rawai grew to become one of the premiere Muay Thai gyms in the country. Students from all over the world would come to train with us. We also developed aspiring young Thai boxers who want to become champions. Our fighters boxed in Bangkok’s most prestigious stadiums, Lumpini and Rajadamnern, and in big promotions like Thai Fight and the King’s Cup. Our boxers have also competed abroad, in China, Australia and Malaysia. We are proud of our students who have won numerous stadium titles as well as the World Muay Thai Council (WMC) and the World Professional Muay Thai Federation (WPMF) titles.
Muay Thai has given Tuk and his family everything they have. With success comes responsibility. Tuk wants to give back to the community, giving young boxers the opportunity he was given. His goal with every fighter is to make them the best that they can be. Every guest who comes to learn at Rawai is helping us to achieve this. We have established a Kid’s Fund and a percentage of your training fee goes to this fund, to help support local fighters in the pursuit of becoming champions and having a better life.
At Rawai we stress fitness and good technique. Our teaching style follows the traditional methods passed on from generation to generation. hat Muay Thai has been taught for decades, the was Tuk and his brothers learned growing up.
HISTORY OF THE GYM: MOVING TO KHAO LAK
After 10 exciting years in Phuket we decided to move to the quieter town of Khao Lak. In our opinion Phuket has grown too much and is no longer the best location for training purposes. There are too many distractions in Phuket (night clubs, bars, malls, traffic). If you really want to focus on your training and get the results you want, then Khao Lak is a better location. It is a quiet seaside town, not yet developed much, perfect for enjoying the sea and nature.
For a more personal narrative of the gym’s history you can read the article “Rawai Muay Thai Built on a Foundation of Love” in Internationality.
At Rawai Muay Thai our guests train daily. The gym is spacious, with four large boxing rings, 19 kicking/punching bags, large mirrors, jigsaw mat flooring and fitness room (with air-con); women’s and men’s locker rooms with showers. The rooms surround the gym. We have private and shared accommodation at the camp. There is a nice swimming pool and restaurant as well a a massage hut, gym shop and gym office. We are open daily, 365 days a year.
We welcome people from everywhere who have an interested in learning the Thai national sport. We welcome women and men of all levels, from complete beginners to professional boxers. The classes are a fun workout. One word of warning: they can be addictive!
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