Living in Thailand is great, sun, food, and Muay Thai. It gets even better when you go on roadtrips with friends. The other day John Wolcott, Scott Hirano and I took a drive out to Sitmonchai gym in Kanchaburi. The two photographers practiced their craft while I got a chance to interview Sanny Dahlbeck. The Swedish fighter is fighting solidly at the “A” level with only four years of professional experience. At only 24 years old the Malaysian Singaporean descendent is doing quite well for himself. Along with fighting full time he also owns and operates, Odenplan Fight Gym in Sweden. Without further ado the interview:
Sanny Dahlbeck turned up the music on his phone. The device was strapped to his left bicep, part of his running outfit, which consisted of shorts, shoes, and the remnants of nam man muay that had been slathered on his body by San. The trainer had put Dahlbeck on a matted surface at Sitmonchai gym and dumped an entire bottle of the yellow menthol liquid on the Swedish fighter. The smell of peppermint filled the open air gym. Dahlbeck got up, shook his body and took off down the road.
The electronic music of Steve Aioki’s song “Freak” cut through the country sounds of Thamaka in the western province of Kanchanburi. The synthesizer and bass overpowered the noise of the dogs, chickens and road side hawkers that he ran by.
He began to quicken his pace. The beat of his shoes on the dirt road picked up along with the electronic music. A collection of old discarded spirit houses lay ruined on the roadside as Dahlbeck ran along a dirty canal.
“You ever go swimming in there,” I asked as we stopped on a bridge over the water.
“Nah. It’s tempting but there’s prolly bodies, dogs and humans,” he replied.
I nodded and took some deep breathes. He stretched and began running again. He was quick and I tried to keep up. Dahlbeck was in the final stages of his fighting camp for an upcoming bout with Aikpracha Meenayothin on Monday for Top King promotion. The Thai fighter has an impressive record of 92 wins 18 losses and 1 draw and well known for his elbows.
While Meentonin has a significant amount of fights compared to Dahlbeck, the Swedish fighter was sure of himself. “Records favor the underdog,” he said as he continued his flight forward.
And while Dahlbeck may not have as many fights as Meenayothin he certainly has had some top level experience. While he was dropped by Jordan Pikeur in K-1 six months ago he was able to achieve a knock out victory against A Class fighter Jordan Watson, Meenayothin has also beaten, and has shared the ring with Robin Van Roosmalen two years ago. “He throws very quick and fast, if I had more experience I would have been able to fight him better,” Dahlbeck said of his bout against Glory Champion Roosmalen.
With only four years of professional fighting under his belt Dahlbeck has come along way having achieved a victory of Yoshiro Sato, “I remember watching him as a kid. During the fight I saw my name on the screen as we were fighting. It was surreal,” he said as we finally slowed down in front of the gym. Dahlbeck not only beat Sato at Glory 3 in Rome by TKO but also defeated the veteran fighter earlier this year for the K-1 Grand Prixe.
Dahlbeck began to shadowbox and was quickly put into the ring with San. The large Thai trainer focuses on power. With a big body and small pads, San demanded consistent explosion and Dalhbeck gave it to him. His crisp left hands made the pads bend in half and he was able to move the large Thai padholder with his kicks.
After four rounds with San, Dahlbeck switched over to working with Kru Dam, the famed trainer of Sitmonchai. The trainer had just completed working with Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai who is gearing up for the Isuzu cup finals. The winner receives a million baht along with a Isuzu pick up truck and a substantial amount of fame. While San focused on power, Dam focused on technique, asking that the Swedish fighter become sharper with his punches, kicks, knees and elbows. The southpaw fighter switches between the trainers on a daily basis honing his power and technique, hitting pads 6-10 rounds each twice daily session.
“Power with San and technique with Kru Dam,” Dahlbeck said between rounds.
His training has paid off. Tattooed on his left bicep are scratch marks, one for each knock out he has achieved. “I still need to put three more on,” Sanny said laughing. “I only have 17 marked down and I’ve knocked out 20.”
Sanny stepped out of the ring and did some mobility work after a lengthy amount of calisthenics. When asked if he ever gets nervous before fighting, especially on big promotions Sanny replied, “no, not really. Sometimes if I think too much about it I’ll get nervous but otherwise no.”
Dahlbeck laughs and relaxes after training. The family atmosphere is obviously comforting for the fighter. When we part he is on his way to go get Isaan food at a nearby restaurant, a favorite of Pee Aye the owner of Sitmonchai gym. “I love spicy food as long as the heat doesn’t take over totally,” Dahlbeck said with a laugh.