Sityodtong Muay Thai Camp
By Roberto Pedreira
You can train where you
like, but there is one camp that you must at least visit. That is Sityodtong.
Strictly speaking it is not in Pattaya, not exactly It is just outside the
Pattaya city limits. It is far enough away from the beach and go-go bars that
you can devote all of your attention and effort to training, if that is what you
want to do, but not so far that you can't indulge a little, if that is what you
want to do, say, after your ring debut, or on your way back to where you came
The camp was established by the
legendary Yodtong Senanan, (recently deceased in February of 2013, sadly).
Originally it was known as the Sidyodtong-Payakarun camp, in honor of Samart
Payakarun, former Lumpinhee champion with a 175-11 ring record. No disrespect
intended to any other styles, countries, or families, but in Thailand, one really has to
put in a lot of ring time and win a lot of fights to earn the title of
"legend" or "champion". You can't become a
"national" champion or "living legend" by winning one or two
fights. Thais give real meaning to the
expression "hard-core" and that is before they even step into the ring.
The training alone is enough to kill ordinary men.
came to the camp when he was 12 years old. He was already a legend when Garry
Olmert published his classic report on the camp in 1990 (lots of Samart
videos on youtube). I first visited
sometime around 1994, give or take a year. At that time, it was located next to the International
School of Boxing and Kung Fu--which was basically an outdoor ring.
is far from the beaten trail. You need serious commitment to get there everyday
from any of the places where a farang is likely to stay. And if you are a
beginner or casual hobbyist, any gym will have a ring, bangs, and reasonably
qualified teacher. I didn't begin my routine, daily training at Sityodtong until
2000. Prior to that, I was at Sitpholek and Nikiema, and one or two or three
gyms that no longer exist. I continued at Sityodtong until about 2008.. I returned to Sityodtong in
August-September 2013 for this report. The original classic GTR Sityodtong
report is here: Sityodtong Boxing
Sityodtong was originally way out in the country,
with Muslims, chickens, cattle, dead dogs, lizards, and jing-jok (geckos). That
is an appropriate environment for a Muay Thai life-style, no distractions and
plenty of space for running, which is about 90% of the training that Muay Thai
fighters routinely do. A few years ago a freeway was built. It passes nearby the
camp, which unfortunately gives it a sort of claustrophobic feel. Moreover, the
nearby roads have also become somewhat built-up and crowded. But if you didn't
know the old camp, this won't matter.
The gym is cleaner
than it was when I regularly trained there 2000-2008, with tiled floors and
puzzle mats, cleaner and more restrooms, including female only. That doesn't
necessarily reflect on the training but these things cost money, and the source
of that money is farangs. The young Thais don't have any and if they did they
wouldn't spend it on tiled floors and puzzle mats, and clean restrooms and
showers (all unaffordable and superfluous luxuries where they came from). There
are also lots of signs in English with the rules spelled out, how much to pay,
what to do and so on. Not that that is bad. They have to pay the bills.
Puzzle mats are not free. Someone has to clean the toilets. The camp is now set
up to be accommodating to farangs. But for the people who fight, nothing will
change. You still have to beat the man (or lady) in the ring with you. And the
way to do that is still the same as it was which means the way you have to train
is also still the same..
No one will force you to train hard if you don't
want to. Conversely,. no one will prevent you from training hard if that is what
you want to do. That applies only to rich farang visitors of course. If you have
money, you can do what you like. If you are a young Thai and Muay Thai is your
job and the only future you have, they definitely will force you to train hard.
Or you can go back home, if you have a home. The sight of Yodtong Senanan
walking around with a Colt .45 tucked into the back of his pants left no doubt
this this was not a place to be goofing off.
might actually think Sityodtong is not farang-friendly enough. If so, there is
an option for them: Fairtex. You pay for what you get,
as usual. For others, Sityodtong is just about right, other than being too far
away. For those who need to stay closer to the beach, there are three other
options: Nikiema, Sitpholek,
and WKO. But wherever you decide to train, you really need
to try Sityodtong at leas once or twice.
Pay 300 baht and sign in.
Puzzle mats and tiled floor. Compare earlier pictures from about 2003.
It is still the largest training facility
by far with plenty of space and trainers.
In the old days, farangs
occasionally showed up and they were allowed to train. After working with you for a few
rounds (how many? "Up to you") you'd wonder how much to pay the
trainer. He'd say "up to you." Now farangs seem to be
the majority of people there and the camp has implemented a rational procedure
for collecting training fees. Pay the young lady below 300
baht, sign your name in the book. Then go off and start your running, rope
jumping, shadow boxing, or whatever you plan to do. Eventually a trainer will
ask if you want to kick the pads. Or you can approach a trainer. If you have
been there more than a day or two, you will probably end up working with the
same one or two trainers. But that is up to you. If you have a preference for
one trainer's style, you can make an effort to work with him. But then you might
have to wait.
Just before 3:30, apprentice fighters sweep out the rings.
Inside "Stadium" ring. It gets very hot in there. It was originally built as a stadium for
tourist shows. There are 50 or so motorcycles parked on the left side, for
reasons that I was unable to discover.
O (that's his name working with farang.
O, working with farang.
Above. Headed back to the beach. On the right is the new
Below. Three pictures of Sityodtong c.
2003. See Sityodtong for more.
Above. Three pictures of Sityodtong from c. 2003.
Many Samart fights on
Youtube. Here's one to start with.
And another, hands only, Samart vs. Jeff Fenech (very
(c) 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.