Namkabuan Nongkeepahuyut is coming to Petchrungruang. He will be acting as an advisor at regular sessions, both AM and PM, to all the Thai fighters and any of the westerners who are lucky enough to be training with us at that time. And he’ll be available for privates in the hours in between, which is a very rare opportunity indeed, as Namkabuan is one of these Legends of the Golden Age who doesn’t teach at any gym. He’ll be there from May 20-22nd and I’m very, very excited.
Recently, I was talking with Sifu McInnes, a man who was very active in the Muay Thai scene during the Golden Age, helping to train fighters at the renowned champion-producing Sityodthong Gym in Pattaya, refereeing at Lumpinee (the only westerner to have that honor), and driving many times per week into Bangkok to watch the fights at Lumpinee and Rajadamnern in the 1990s. He’s a man who lived it. Who knows who was who by watching with his own eyes. When we asked him who he thought the best ever was, he paused – he didn’t hesitate, but he gave it a moment and then answered very confidently, “Namkabuan.”
Namkabuan was incredible. He held his Lumpinee title for 6 years straight, undefeated, until he vacated. He fought everyone, he beat most, he had an incredibly active, aggressive but beautiful style that was well-rounded yet incredibly powerful and explosive. The first time I ever heard his name was when my own trainer, Kru Nu, caught my leg in training and ploughed me clear across the ring, while yelling “Namkabuan!” I understood the reference once I saw his fights on Youtube. Before that became illegal, what with our two steps that we’re allowed now, Namkabuan was running his opponents nearly out of the ring. One time, he and his opponent fell out of the ring and as the referee was helping his opponent wiggle back under the ropes, Namkabuan was leaping back over them without a second’s pause to re-engage. He is just amazing.
You can read my article on Thai masculinity and Namkabuan here:
The Namkabuan you meet now is just charismatic as can be. He’s suave, he’s cool, he’s funny and playful. But he’s also very keen to take the building blocks of fundamentals and put some flare on them. It’s not “flashy,” but goddamn it looks good. One of his nicknames was “the body throw expert,” which you won’t have to ask about if you watch his fights on Youtube. He’s got an amazing speed and power to just rip his opponents down in the clinch. He can teach you that. Another nickname was the “Pure Warrior,” which is a play on his name, but it’s also incredibly fitting to the way he expresses his intention in the ring. I love watching him.
Watch Namkabuan’s Beautiful “Slide Knee” in Slow Motion
If you’re in Thailand, come to Pattaya. Change your plans, buy a bus ticket, whatever it is that you need to do, don’t miss this chance to absorb the knowledge, guidance and charisma of this Legend. And if you can, book a private. He’s a lot of fun to work with and he can improve on any style, he’s very versatile. I’m eager to see what he’ll be offering to the young Thai fighters of Petchrungruang, who already have solid skill from their years with Kru Nu and experience fighting in Lumpinee; I’m sure Namkabuan will be adding some swagger.
This is part of a project that Kevin and I are hoping to develop, which we’re calling “Legends in Residence.” Basically, we want to foster real and meaningful connection between these Golden Age Legends and active young fighters. A lot of these Legends are separated from living Muay Thai – Namkabuan, for example, runs a very successful (and cool) restaurant/bar in Khorat, which he opened with his late brother, also a champion, Nampon. Bringing them back in contact with active young fighters, it’s like seeing an old machine come back to life; and it’s so good for the fighters because they come in contact with a level of skill and quality of technique that is disappearing from contemporary ring Muay Thai. This project is like stitching together a sail that has torn – the whole ship just flies. We brought Dieselnoi down for 1 month (and he loved it so much, and Pi Nu loved him so much, he stayed a bit extra – you can see that in my Kaimuay Diaries in 2 parts on patreon.com/sylviemuay), and we will be bringing him back in August. Namkabuan is coming for a short time, as we try to hammer out how this will work, but the hope is for it to be repeated and expanded. This is made possible through the support and generosity of my patrons. If you’d like to support this kind of project, please check out.
patreon.com/sylviemuay (suggested pledge $5)