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You’ll hear Phomphet before you see him. This boisterous and passionate trainer’s name means “the Diamond”, which could also refer not only to his cutting elbows, but also his sparkling personality. A born performer, Phomphet brings energy and enthusiasm to every training session.
Originally from Buriram, Thailand, Phomphet made his fight debut at the tender at of seven and now has over 200 fights. He understands the importance of technique in Muay Thai because he trained for his first fight by kicking a banana tree at home. He didn’t belong to a gym until he was 12, so there was no bags for him to kick, or students for him to spar. He copied his favourite Thai movie where the Thai fighter Somluck kicked trees to make his shin strong.
Although it hurt, he has fond memories of his first fight. “My dad cornered me and he told me I had a good kick, and I felt proud.”
Of the 100 baht (NZD$4) he got paid for the fight, he gave his parents 80 baht, taking home 20 baht for himself. He was proud of being able to make some extra money for his parents, and also of the fact that he was doing something in his blood. Eventually, his dad rewarded him with a bag to kick. “But it wasn’t Twins”, he jokes. “It was a rice sack filled with old t-shirts.”
Today, when asked why he loves Muay Thai he says: “I was born from Muay Thai. It’s in my blood, in my brain… I dream about Muay Thai.”
His secret weapon is his elbow, and in Thailand, everyone spoke about this deadly weapon. One of his opponents “touched my elbow” and ended up needing 52 stitches in his head. Phomphet jokes that he too has been “touched by elbows”, although his record is a paltry 9 stitches.
Although he takes Muay Thai very seriously, he doesn’t like to make training too serious… “Unless you’re training for a fight”. You’ll find him zipping up and down the gym, chasing students around and joining in sparring sessions – whatever it takes to get students to train harder and smile more. His main aim, he said, is to make his students strong, with beautiful technique. “When they kick harder and punch harder, it makes me feel happy.”
New Zealand is beautiful, he says, and so are its people. Muay Thai makes me very happy. 9 stiches. I like New Zealand beautiful. People talk nice I love fishing to relax. I love cooking. My family grew up loving Muay Thai, . every day have fights. Champion on phuket, happy, joke, not too serious, laugh a lot. Muay Thai serious sport. Make everyone strong and good technique and happy. In my blood, in my brain, dream Muay Thai,
When I see students kick hard, improvements and make them strong it makes me happy
Favourite NZ dish: Steak