Video Walk Through and Interview With Owner Pi Pong
Pong is a very sweet, quiet, and well-connected man. He’s been working with Pumpanmuang Gym in Bangkok for at least 10 years, but his responsibilities as a son have brought him back to his home in Lampang to take care of his mother. Lucky for us, he decided to open a gym in what is basically his backyard and it’s beautiful. The area is a quiet neighborhood, close enough to the highway that you can get to pretty much anywhere quite easily, but it’s out of the way enough that it has a secluded feel. The ring itself is surrounded by a little wooded area, fruit trees everywhere, and a super short jog down an unpaved driveway delivers you to a riverbank where you can cool off directly after training.
The gym is still under construction, so it’s undetermined just how many rooms there will be to accommodate the fighters who want to stay on premises, but the dorms that already exist look nice and clean. The equipment is new, the ring is in open air (I’ll tell you from experience, it is lovely to train in open air), and Pi Pong is very well-connected and is able to bring in very good trainers, he represents good fighters, and he can organize very good fights on big or small cards. When choosing a gym in Thailand, the factors which make the biggest impact are: 1) location; 2) the trainers; and 3) the connections the gym has for fight promotions. This gym has a high score for all three. Pumpanmuang Gym (“Muay Thai Plaza”) in Bangkok is a big gym. The name itself carries a lot of weight, as Police General Somyot Pumpanmuang is the owner. And Pi Pong has been with the gym for so long, he has that weight behind him as well, plus the years of working with big shows (Saiyok Pumpanmuang is a star of Thai Fight), Lumpinee Stadium, and abroad. He also speaks English very well and has business partners in Australia.
interview with Pi Pong
I talked to Pi Pong about the local fight scene and he had a smile on his face when he said the local man in charge was more interested in golf than Muay Thai, so the likelihood of a local stadium being built as the local scene grows seemed a bit far-off. But Lampang is close to Chiang Mai (about 1 hour), so it’s easy enough to have a fight any day of the week; Pi Pong said there are local shows, and Pi Pong also has a vision (and the ability to realize that vision) of bringing his fighters to big shows both in Thailand and internationally. I fought for him in Laos, which was a great show, there are strong connections currently with fighting in China for much bigger purses than you can get in Thailand, and Pong has connections with bordering countries as well.
My video is from January. The gym has probably changed (developed) a lot already, but this is the Facebook Page for Muay Thai Plaza 2004, where you can see videos and updates from the gym as it is now. You can also contact Pong through that page with questions about training, prices, schedule, etc.