Tiger Muay Thai News Archive
Get all the latest news on what is going on at Tiger Muay Thai and MMA training camp, Phuket, Thailand. Get the latest fight results, and bios of our team fighters on MMA Thailand and Team Tiger Muay Thai.
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February 1st, 2013
Tiger Muay Thai trainers Kru Lamsongkram and Kru Yod are on their way back to Montreal to help UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre prepare for his UFC 158 fight against Nick Diaz on March 16 in St-Pierre’s hometown. The trainers were last there in November helping GSP train for his epic return to the cage in UFC 154 against Carlos Condit. We will be continually updating you on their training progress!
Watch the Tiger trainers featured on UFC Primetime: 154 Episode Two…
January 30th, 2013
The likes of rap group the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as several comic books have put Chessboxing at the forefront. Still, it’s not like there is a specially outfitted gym just for the sport and several people have to be told it is a real “thing.”
The sport mixes the mental strains of chess with the physicality and grace of boxing, allowing fighters/players to switch competition each round.
“It sort of like brain training,” says Ruthie Wright, Britain’s Female Flyweight Chessboxing Champion.
Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp Phuket, Thailand recently hosted “The Pink Machine” Wright for several weeks. With the obscure sport still slowly gaining notoriety and recognition, finding females who play chess and also train in boxing are hard to come by.
Wright gained interest in the sport several years back and after training in boxing. She started training to chessbox in late 2011, after being told she would have a fight in March 2012. She ended up having a training camp at TMT in early 2012 only to find out that her opponent would pull out of the fight in February.
This would happen four more times.
Then on September 29, 2012, Wright finally got the chance to compete in an official Chessboxing match at Scala Club in London in front of 1,200 fans. The match ended when Wright’s opponent, Jenny-Anne Dexter, had to stop due to a neck injury – making Wright the first British Female Flyweight champ.
“Hopefully having the title would mean that someone would want to challenge me for that title,” Wright says, recalling how difficult it is find other females to fight. “One of the reasons why it’s difficult to find women to box is because they are worried about their record.”
So how does chessboxing work? It’s seven rounds of three minutes of chess, followed by two minutes of boxing. No headguards, fighters wear 16 oz gloves, and there is a timer near the chess board that fighters have to touch after every move.
While going back and forth between the mental and physical grind, Wright says that picturing the board while trying to knock someone out is the true challenge.
“The hardest bit, is learning to take the snapshot of where you’re at, and then remember it,” she says, “then realize where you are when you sit back down.”
What happens if the match looks even by the end of the bout? Judges first score on the chess and then to boxing. A match ends when either A) a players has checkmated their opponent in chess or B) knocked out or had a referee stoppage in the boxing match. In the event that time runs out, judges first score based on the chessboard. Only if the chessboard looks deadlocked, do the judges go to the boxing scorecards.
“Because I’m learning both a same time so I’m learning immediately how to switch from boxing to chess, boxing to chess,” Wright says, “I would like to think that I can do it until I’m at least 40. I would like to be an ambassador for women in the sport.”
January 27th, 2013
The rules are simple. Instagram a photo showing any Tiger Muay Thai clothing or training gear. Use the hashtag #Tigergram2013 and tag @tigermuaythai in the caption of the photo. The rest is up to you. It can be you wearing a Tiger shorts in front a cool landmark, someone using Tiger gloves at your home gym, or even a tiger shirt on a cute puppy; anything you want. A lot of people come a long way to see us, now we want to see where you go after.
On March 1st we will select our favorite, and the following will be sent right to your front door:
-Autographed photo of UFC fighter Brian Ebersole
-Autographed photo of UFC and Bellator veteran, and current ONE FC fighter, Roger Huerta
-Autographed photo of our own celebrity fitness instructor Ocean Bloom
-2 new Tiger t-shirts
Not bad for the simple act of instagramming. Remember, rep Tiger anyway you want, hashtag #Tigergram2013, tag @tigermuaythai, and win big. Thanks for participating, can’t wait to see what you all come up with.
January 23rd, 2013
It’s booming at the moment at Tiger Muay Thai & MMA Training Camp Phuket, Thailand, with several fighters coming through to polish up their fight game. One of which is multiple-time guest Joe Ray, who just arrived earlier this week and will be training with professional fighters from all over the world.
Ray (8-3), a Strikeforce veteran who knocked out Zorobabel Moreira in just 14 seconds of the first round, is a decorated amateur kickboxer and Muay Thai veteran with heavy hands and knockout power. After initially coming out to TMT for only one month, Ray decided to stay for just over nine months back in 2009-2010.
The 28-year-old Florida native has fought at both Patong Boxing Stadium and Bangla Boxing Stadium in Phuket before making his MMA debut in April 2010 (a TKO win over John Clarke at Strikeforce: Miami).
From there, Ray has gone on to win bouts in Martial Combat, and is currently enjoying a three-fight win streak that started with his first round TKO win over Levi Lalonde.
Ray has been named one of MMA’s rising stars by Bleacher Report and was even ranked 10th by Bloody Elbow’s welterweight scouting report in 2011.
We are excited to have Ray back and look forward to having him train with our stable of legendary Muay Thai trainers (Kru Yod, Kru Nong, Kru Robert, etc.) as well as our professional MMA trainers (Brian Ebersole, Roger Huerta, Wiktor Svensson).
January 15th, 2013
Professional boxer Gwayne Grech, 25, and MMA fighter Jason Michael Culverwell, 26, started out training like many others – when someone pushed them into it.
“When I was younger I didn’t think of doing (MMA) as a career. As you get older, your goals are more obvious,” says Culverwell, “It’s my career at the moment and I would rather wake up and train than wake up and go to work.”
For Culverwell, it was when his former coach, Justin Pulvenis, told him to train full time. For Grech, he went pro after a former heavyweight titleholder, Freddy Rafferty, pushed him into his first amateur – then professional – boxing matches.
The duo met at the garage, a makeshift training ground for young men from their neighborhood in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. It was held at the home of Martin De Beer, a noted trainers, and became a haven for the young men to hone the skills they first used growing up in the harsh streets of Kwazulu-Natal.
“We were raised to stand your ground, your head is not a toilet, no one poops on it,” Grech says, “we grew up in a town where you have to fight.”
Though neither would say they were troublemakers, this might explain why both men did not like each other the minute they met – which was in a sparring session in which Culverwell nearly knocked out Grech – a traditional boxer – with a kick he didn’t see coming.
Through that, the boys built up a friendship that would lead them to take the garage and move the location over to a workshop in the industrial section of the city about a year later in 2011.
At the time, Culverwell was still competing in amateur MMA, eventually becoming the Africa Fight League (AFL) Light Heavyweight Champion.
He got the call to move up to the big leagues in African MMA, the EFC, after one of his AFL fights. Admittely, Culverwell was not taking the sport as serious as most.
“Dirk Steenekamp, a commentator for EFC, told me at an afterparty that I should fight EFC. At the time I wasn’t taking it seriously, but soon after I thought you can’t just fight and NOT make something out of it. I want to be a champion one day. This is my life now,” Culverwell says.
Meanwhile, Grech got into some amateur boxing matches, which he won. He quickly went pro in 2012 and currently has a 1-1 record with an eye on competing within the next few months and eventually getting into MMA.
While the friends focus on their fight career, the gym has taken off with Culverwell taking care of most of the day-to-day operations as Grech takes the days to work his full-time job and run some of the training programs when he can.
The duo came to Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp Phuket, Thailand at the suggestion of TMT alum Don Madge and one of their head coaches. They have developed a special bond with the place, explained best by Grech.
“This place is heaven, I’m in love. If I could marry this place, I would,” he says.
Up next for Culverwell is a bout against UK champ Fraser Opie (10-5) at EFC 18 on March 1 at Carnival City, Johannesburg. The bout could have number one contendor implications as Culverwell looks to finally get a shot at the EFC Light Heavyweight title.
January 12th, 2013
Sports, even ones that includes hand-to-hand combat, provide an escape route for those who have nowhere to go. This is the journey of one man, from gang life to prison and addiction, and how it led to his salvation in becoming a Muay Thai champion with a promising MMA career.
Pane Haraki grew up in Hastings, New Zealand and when you meet him, it’s tough to see how he could have a wicked bone in his body. By all accounts, a sincere and generous person, it has taken years of prison time and several other factors to get him where he is today.
Someone who liked school growing up and had the encouragement of teachers, Haraki longed for a career in professional rugby – his first love. Playing both rugby union and rugby league, he saw his friends getting professional contracts and knew he could do it.
But the gang life was too much.
“My dad was the president of a gang for 30 years, so for the majority of my life my dad was the leader of a gang,” Haraki says, “I walked around with a chip on my shoulder.”
Since the age of 17, Haraki had been in jail every year of his life until he was 23– all for burglaries or assaults. Each time, he would do a stint for a few months or weeks and get right back into the gang.
“We had our gang that would go around and fight other gangs, do drugs, steal cars, rob people – just all the bad stuff,” Haraki admits.
Even with all of this going on, the big Maori doesn’t blame anyone. When your father is the leader of a gang, it becomes your family. His three uncles, countless cousins, as well as Haraki’s own brother were all hooked.
“Dad would drop us off at school in custom hot rods. The whole school would come out and watch him drop us off at school,” Haraki says with a smile, remembering a time when his father was his hero. That was a long time ago.
At 23 years-old, Haraki’s father came up to him and his uncle for help. The job was simple, go and beat someone up – though no one told Haraki.
“A girl (my father) had been seeing for years was seeing another guy. We basically beat him up. My dad never told me what we were going to do so I felt a little bit tricked,” he says, “It was basically over a woman.”
With all three men in police custody, it took three months until their sentencing. His father and uncle were sentenced to three months and were basically let out the day they were sentenced.
But they made an example of Haraki due to his father’s prestige in the gang. Haraki was originally sentenced to three years which he cut down to two years and four months on appeal.
Haraki ended up serving 18 months, spending two birthdays in prison.
“I sort of lost respect for my dad since then. I never really trusted him after that,” Haraki says, “I was bitter, but in saying that I was more dissappointed in myself.”
While in prison he met a man in jail from a biker club in Auckland who was also a former heavyweight Muay Thai champion in New Zealand. The two became friends and, upon Haraki’s release, went to Auckland for work.
“When I went out (to Auckland) he showed me a different world of the bike club scene,” Haraki says, “I didn’t join them, but just hung out a lot with them.”
When word of his association with a biker club got back to Hastings, life became a bit worrying for Haraki. Whenever he came back home, trouble wouldn’t be far away.
“I thought I needed to protect myself so I went to this local gym and started training muay thai,” Haraki says. After a year, at the age of 26, Haraki would fight in his first professional bout – winning his first two via knockout.
After five fights, Haraki switched gyms and went back to Auckland to feed his addiction to Muay Thai and something else.
Back in Auckland, on one of the first nights after he was released from prison, he was sitting around a table of some of the biggest drug dealers in New Zealand as a joint laced with methamphetamine was passed around.
“My mate said to me ‘you don’t want to do this’. Then it came to me again and I thought ‘why not?’ so I did it,” Haraki recalls. This moment led to an addiciton that would last until he was 30-years-old.
From the looks of things, everything was going well. Haraki was starting to pull himself away from the gang life, training full-time in Muay Thai and fighting professionaly. He even had a job that, admittedly did not pay much, but was enough for him to get him off the streets and into a home by himself.
But he had developed a bad addiction to meth and things were about to get worse.
Two weeks after his daughter Acacia was born, and shortly after his 30th birthday, Haraki was sent back to prison on an assault charge. The beginning of his sentence was the roughest, as the withdrawals of his meth addiction and the fact that he left his little girl weighed on him.
“In the cell I felt that I was going to commit suicide and I knew from then on that I could never do drugs again because they were going to kill me. Few people know how it feels to be truly hopeless,” Haraki says.
Amongst the bars and his small cot, Haraki began the process of forgiving himself of his past, reflecting on his mistakes, and even began reading the bible – from front to back – in about eight months. Something that he feels gave him strength during his prison sentence.
When Haraki was released from prison for what would be the final time, he refocused his efforts on school and his fight career. He moved back to the Hastings – Napier area and began training Muay Thai heavily. All the while working odd jobs and training others to make ends meet to support his baby daughter.
Haraki fought several times, amassing an 11-5 Muay Thai recording New Zealand and eventually winning a Heavyweight Championship title in 2012. His past would sometimes rear it’s ugly head, like when he was denied entry into Australia to compete because of lied about his jail record.
Still, Haraki enrolled in a university to get his diploma and become a fitness instructor and strength and conditioning coach, possibly for rugby players and other fighters. He was studying at the local library when he got a text that would change things once again.
His father had been battling heart cancer for some time, and a triple bypass surgery was not enough to save him. Haraki was setting up funeral arrangement when he got into an argument with his brother that turned into a full scale fistfight in his father’s house.
“When (my father) was sick my brother never went to see him, not once,” Haraki, who broke his finger in the fight, says. “ This was really heated because I think he had been drinking heavily, dad had just passed away.”
After the funeral, Haraki could not strike as easily with his broken finger and switched over to MMA to learn the ground game and takedowns. His rugby skills came in handy and soon he had several fights lined up in the new sport.
With a 3-2 MMA record and several Muay Thai fights around the world, Haraki was able to attain an AMCO title at Bangla Boxing Stadium in Phuket, Thailand.
Haraki tried out for the MMA team at Tiger Muay Thai & MMA Training Camp Phuket, Thailand and, although was not picked up, still has a promising future training with several of the other athletes who competed.
“It’s been a real privilege to be chosen to take part in the scholarship, trianing with Roger Huerta, Brian Ebersole, Fernando, good coaches that got good experience and really nice guys. I know I’ve always got a home at Tiger,” he says.
Haraki believes he is destined to do two things in life other than fight: 1) own a gym, 2) help others get out of the gang life, especially youth.
For now, he is focused on his fight career and providing for his daughter back in New Zealand.
“Surround yourself with good people. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everything you go through, there is always a reason and way to come down that path, never give up on your dreams and hopes,” he says.