One of my most fond memories I have of living in Thailand is its people, after 3 years of being in such a passionate sport you live around many fighters, each of them with amazing story’s to tell, most of them will never be heard untill they do “make it”, but if life has tought us something is that most of these fighters do it out of love for the sport, all that we have is our personal accomplishments and a back ground.
His name is Methee, his family name is Panghinfonpoonpeom (Better known as John Methee), Now 29 years old he comes from Mea Jam, Chiang Mai,Thailand.
Unlike many other story’s we’ve heard from Thai Fighter’s he is a late bloomer to the sport, which is intriguing to me considering myself as well as an MMA late bloomer, he started to train May Thai when he was 21, at Lanna boxing gym Chiang Mai, after finishing his university studies.
He chose Lana because of old friends. He didn’t do it to support his family, or fought for a living, He simply loved the sport.
Lacking the support of his family who wanted Meethe to become a priest because of his warm caring personality and patience, He continued to find his own path in the sport. With a record of 3-1 all the three times he was victorious were by K.O. and only one defeat by 1 point. He wasnt looking to be a big name in professional fighting, he just had a profound passion for the sport and the loved to teach others, he liked the Idea of how the sport helps you use every part of your body.
He later moved to K.C. Muay Thai where we met, after he finished the university. He wanted to help out some friends at KC gym. Al though Muay Thai is a big part of the Thai culture, the people´s toughts on the sport have change over the course of time, “it is a hard sport to practice, to live in and to succeed”. Comming from a family of farmers He is the youngest of 5 siblings.
At some point every fighter reaches an impasse whether or not to make a transition from fighter to teacher (coach or trainer). It always comes in different ways in life, some struggle as a fighter keeping up with younger opponents, then crash, for others like Methee its a smooth transition, today Methee enjoys more of the sport working at a very well-known Chiang Mai Gym, where he meets people from all over the world and shares the beauty of their culture.
“I feel more like a trainer because as I get older and not strong as before. The fighters have to train hard and strong. The trainer have to take care the fighters.”
Not so long ago he traveled to China as a Trainer, living in the sport he has been able to see it evolve along side with the Thai culture, in to what it is now, a very popular sport around the world. Mixed martial arts has brought some life back to the sport and it’s helping it grow wold wide, great fighters are getting world-wide recognition and it seems like Muay Thai is getting a second chance.
The vision of Muay Thai has changed a lot over the years to the country, the Thai people don’t really want their kids to grow up in the sport anymore as they used to Methee tell’s us, years ago it used to be about honor and glory, today, it’s not a wealthy or very long career for that matter, if you know the sport. It’s a hard life to live and it leaves fighters broken most of the times, physically and mentally.
Today Muay Thai has become more about keeping the culture alive in a modern Thailand and practicing it as a hobbie or to stay fit, rather than a way of life, only few fighters follow that hard path, among them most of the times you will find lower class Thai people trying to make a living, get a little extra cash or to pay for their studies.
The sport than once was practiced on a dirt road with no gloves or hand wraps has also changed a lot over the years, big brands like Fairtex and Twins have taken over the industry making semi traditional Muay Thai gear, with gloves, hand wraps, even traditional Muay Thai shorts to keep some of the tradition in the sport. But in the heart of Thailand its people still see it as they did years a go, a beautiful dance unlike any other kind of boxing in the world.
To the rest of the world Muay Thai is an intriguing sport that is a fundamental part of the mixed martial arts community, The basics of its striking, the power in the leg kicks, the importance of the clinch in MMA, are all fundamentals in the MMA bible and Muay Thai is its religion. Thailand has transformed because of MMA, a growing hot spot for world fighters to come in to the country to learn the sport, its Asian culture and mystery will also make this a fascinating country to visit and train in.