The long and varied history of the Lamai Muaythai Camp
One of the first foreign operated Muaythai Gyms in Thailand, The Lamai Gym in Koh Samui has come a long way from when it first opened its doors to young and eager Muaythai enthusiasts back in 1989. Before the internet or fax machines being commonplace office items, the only way you could have heard of it was by word-of-mouth.
People may still remember the outdoor weights area and the old slip ‘n slide boxing ring where there were often up to a dozen guys training at once, turning the whole training area into a swimming pool of sweat and aggression, and those who weren’t lucky enough to fit into the ring were placed out the back of the gym in the dirt, or how early every morning when most every one on the island was sleeping, a bunch of Thais and foreigners would be working up a sweat with morning training and by the afternoon the Gym was simply exploding with action.
Now as everyone involved in Muaythai knows as they knew then, this is what every other Thai gym was like, so what made it so special… Well, the major difference can be found in the details: The location of course is definitely unique – Koh Samui, way out on the ocean isle, there exists a very different energy in the air, the people, and most importantly for those into Muaythai, the energy of the camp – People stayed in Bungalows near the Gym and the old Flamingo Lamai Stadium, where once a week, open air fights were held and, in those days, especially for the foreign visitors to the camp and the occasional tourist, it was like being at the circus, as people from all over the island would show up for the show, having come to see the ring sport rally.
Fifteen years down the road and how things have changed. Even though the gym has moved from its original location it hasn’t lost any of its allure and only increased in it’s charm – It’s a fantastic sight when you see all the guys & girls (Yes, women of all ages get into this too!) at the morning and afternoon training sessions, punching the bags and hitting the pads with all the grunting and gasping of athletes training with such intensity. Even if you have seen it many times before, people driving past can’t help but to stop and take in all the sights and sounds that are going on, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Run under the umbrella of the Word Muaythai Council, the world sole governing body for Muaythai, The Lamai Gym is now considered a top-class training facility. Like many camps in Thailand, people come to stay and train for long periods of time, but at Lamai people tend to stay on just that little bit extra for many reasons – It could for the beautiful white beaches or the great nightlife, but here there seems to be a perfect balance between an intense training experience and being able to let your hair down all in one environment. Ultimately though, the main reason people come to the Lamai Gym is for the training and this is what the gym is known for around the world. When you have coaches that actually care if you’re improving and not just going through the motions, the right equipment and facilities, the right atmosphere and energy around you, it makes all the difference in the world for the trainees.
The Head Coach at Lamai is the inimitable Hanarong, who has been with the gym since day one – even when he was still fighting he was here training himself and teaching at the gym. Hanarong is probably one of the most traveled Muaythai coaches in the sport as every other week or so he seems to be jetting off to take fighters across the world or to run a seminar somewhere in country – But he’s never gone for too long as he is definitely one of the faces that people associate with the camp.