Coke, screamed as he kicked, exhaling air and voice as his shin connected with the pad that Jongsanaan was holding. The 28 year old Thai has been training with his original trainer, (og style) several times a week in addition to his training out of his own gym. Coke and Jongsanaan broke up the pad work with laughter, poking fun at friends, and interspersed the aerobic work out with strategic musings. Together they were piecing together a game plan combining years of fight knowledge, and joyous Muay Thai living.
After his pad work, the muscle bound man, worked the pluhm. Known in Thailand for his strong clinch, Coke used his strong upper body to man handle his partners until he had to leave. Finishing with simple calenthestics, he rushed out of the gym to head back to Oakland to teach class. The next morning after his 5 mile run into the Oakland hills I got a chance to sit down with Coke and ask a few questions.
Lucas: Where were you born?
Coke: I was born in Ratchaburi. Close to Bangkok, not too far. Maybe 2 hours from Bangkok.
Lucas: How did you start doing Muay Thai?
Coke: I stayed at a temple with monks. One monk asked me if I wanted to fight. I said “Okay, I want to fight.” They have shows, and celebrations, at the events they would have Muay Thai. I had my first fight for a New Year’s celebration.
Lucas: How old were you when you started fighting?
Lucas: When did you start at Fairtex?
Coke: I came to Fairtex around when I was thirteen or fourteen.
Lucas: What made you move from the temple to Fairtex?
Coke: At the time I was thirteen and had not finished high school. I had to go to school for three more years, but I didn’t want to go to school, I wanted to go to Bangkok. I worked for one month or two month, and then a friend asked me “You want to go to camp.” I said “I want to go.”
Lucas: You stayed at Fairtex for your most of your career?
Coke: Yes until I came to America. Now I train and teach at Pacific Ring Sports in Oakland.
Lucas: What was it like growing up at Fairtex?
Coke: I just stayed at Fairtex, I don’t know about other camps. I grow up there. My house was there, you know, I had my friends and family there.
Lucas: Who were your trainers?
Coke: At first Jongsanaan, and then Farsai (clear heaven).
Lucas: When did you first come to America?
Coke: I came in 2004 to work, and then I came back in 2007. I live here now.
Lucas: How is the US different from Thailand?
Coke: In Thailand they fight because its their job. Here fighters have to work, training is hard. The fighters have a lot to do. They have to train and work. In Thailand the fighters only have training.
Lucas: What have some of your obstacles been being here in US?
Coke: The language is hard. Not too hard, but I have to learn.
Lucas: How is Thai culture different from American culture?
Coke: It is different. Sometimes people here show respect, sometimes they don’t. The music in America, they like to talk dirty. In Thailand they talk sweet, talk about love. Its different.
Lucas: How are your fights here in the states different from Thailand?
Coke: Here, easy. In Thailand I have to lose weight a lot, almost die (Laughs)!
Lucas: Why are the fights easier?
Coke: I don’t have to lose weight. I can eat. In Thailand I have to train hard and lose weight. Run, train and then fight. Here I train, and then can fight.
Lucas: How would describe yourself as a fighter?
Coke: I think I’m not always smarter than my opponents but I’m stronger.
Lucas: How have you been training to fight for your upcoming fight with Kevin Ross?
Coke: I have been training hard. I can not lose. This time I can not lose because I’m fighting Muay Thai. I have a lot of friends and students coming to see me.
Lucas: What do you expect to happen with this fight?
Coke: I don’t know, we’ll see.
Lucas: What have you gotten from Muay Thai?
Coke: Muay Thai has been really good to me. I’ve learned a language and I can teach people about Muay Thai. “This is from Thailand. This is Muay Thai!” I can teach people how to say thank you and be polite, teach Thai culture.
Lucas: How do you feel American fighters are different from Thai fighters?
Coke: Some American fighters don’t understand training, Thai style. Americans don’t understand about trainers yelling, and pushing you. The trainers want you to be better. Not all American fighters understand that.
Lucas: What do you like to do with your free time?
Coke: Take it easy (laughs). Stay at home, go see movie, sometimes I like to do that.
Lucas: How long would you like to fight for?
Coke: I don’t know. We’ll see how long.
Lucas: What was one of your most memorable fights?
Coke: I remember the fight the best with Anpiichai. He is short but good. First time I lost. First fight I knock him down, and he knock me down too. Third time we fight, it was a big fight for me. I’ve had a lot of big fights. I fought and beat Buakaw. I’ve beat a lot of champions.
Lucas: What would you like to accomplish with your career?
Coke: I want to fight. I want to make my name known. I want people to know that what I do is Muay Thai. I want to make students into strong fighters. I want to be known as a good teacher.
Coke, the Thai with a steel will is set to fight Kevin Ross, the American with an Unbreakable Heart, on October 10th at the Santa Clara Convention Center for War of the Hereos 4. Tickets are available at Pacific Ring Sports on Telegraph and 40th in Oakland and at www.virtualboxoffice.com/coke