Grand Master Yodtong Senanan
Today, Kru Yodtong’s spirit lives on through all the hearts and minds of the people he has touched during his time here on earth. We continue to pass down Kru Yodtong’s philosophies, techniques and style of Muay Thai. This is our Muay Thai lineage we are so proud of.
WHO IS GRAND MASTER YODTONG?
Regarded as the best Muay Thai trainer of all time, Yodtong Senanan was born on 8/28/1937, in a rural village of Banpong Province in Thailand. Located two hundred and fifty kilometers south east of Bangkok. This would eventually become the destination of over 57 champions and countless others who travelled to learn from this great master.
From a very early age, Kru Yodtong was fascinated with all forms of fighting. As he grew into a man, he eventually became the best and most well known teacher of Muay Thai Boxing in all of Thailand and around the globe. He was appointed by the country of Thailand as the “National Conservator of Thai Boxing” and was individually most responsible for promoting Muay Thai throughout the world.
Kru Yodtong was not only a great teacher, he was also a huge philanthropist. After winning the Thai lottery, (a sum equivalent of 2.2 million dollars), Kru Yodtong publicly announced he did not care about the money and did not intend to keep it. Over several weeks, people lined up everyday at his doorstep. They would explain their struggles and why they needed help. Kru Yodtong’s generosity was so great, that a few weeks later he had giving nearly all his money away to hundreds of poor and needy families.
Master Yodtong had a passion for Muay Thai Boxing since he was very young. When Yodtong was a boy, the sport of Muay Thai was very dangerous. Children weren’t allowed to compete in until they were 15 years old. For many of his early years, Kru Yodtong would go to the different Muay Thai camps in his area and just stand there and patiently watch and study the other children who were training.
Master Yodtong finally started to begin training when he was 14 years old. He had his first bout shortly after he turned 15 years old. His fighting name at that point in time was Erawan Detprasit Banpra. Dr. Yodtongs real name is Erawan Sriwaralak , the name Detrprasit was the name of his camp, and Banpra was the name of the stadium where he often competed.
Kru Yodtong continued to fight professionally until the age of 21 years, after this time Yodtong was in semi-retirement, but would still fight if the money was right. In total, Dr. Yodtong had fought in 49 bouts. In those times, fighters in Thailand did not fight as often as they do today. 49 fights at that period in time would be equal to about a 100 fights by a fighter of today’s times.
By the time Yodtong turned 17, he had changed camps and took the name of his new camp, Senanan, Muay Thai fighters will often replace their family name with the name of their camp. In this case, Dr. Yodtong replaced his family name of Sriwaralak). It was at his new camp that Dr. Yodtong first began instructing the other fighters in the art of Muay Thai. It was very apparent to everyone that Master Yodtong had a very special gift for teaching the art of Muay Thai Boxing.
RAYONG TO NAKLUA TO BANGLAMUNG PROVINCE
After training several champions for the gym, Yodtong realized that instead of working for the manager of the gym, he should start his own gym, and this is exactly what he did. In 1960, Yodtong built his first gym at Mabtaput, which is in the province of Rayong, located south of Pattaya. Yodtong stayed at Mabtaput for approximately fifteen years until it was time to move and expand to an even bigger Muay Thai camp in Naklua (a Pattaya suburb)
Due to the large number of fighters training with Yodtong he had the need to change his camp yet again. This time Yodtong purchased several acres of land at Banglamung province, ( which is just a few kilometres from Pattaya ) and built the current Sityodtong Muay Thai Boxing Camp. Ten years ago the original gym was moved to the present site.
The legacy of the Sityodtong Boxing Camp
Shortly after Kru Yodtong had established himself as a great Muay Thai fighter throughout major stadiums in Thailand.
While Kru Yodtong was still pursuing a career as a fighter, he would assist in the training and development of other future champions. It became apparent to everyone that Kru Yodtong had a very special gift for training fighters in the art of Muay Thai.
Kru Yodtong’s knowledge of the science of Muay Thai, gave him the ability to see things that most trainers could not. He went on to train several champions for the Sennanan Camp, before realizing he could produce his own champions for his own camp. So in 1960 he opened his first camp, the Sityodtong International Boxing Camp, and began to train fighters and students of Muay Thai. It was not long before Kru Yodtong had built a strong stable of fighters and a strong reputation for being a great trainer and manager.
THE PAYAKAROON BROTHERS
Among his first few champions were two brothers, Kongtoranee& Samart Payakaroon. They both held several Lumpinee Stadium titles and world titles in both Muay Thai and Boxing. Their skill was unsurpassed and they dominated the Muay Thai world for many years. This gave Kru Yodtong and his Sityodtong camp, worldwide recognition. Samart Payakaroon is still regarded as the greatest fighter of all time.
The Payakaroon brothers played a huge roll in the exposure of Kru Yodtong. Their success brought Kru Yodtong the fame and popularity he deserved. Today Samart is still an international singer and actor. Kongtoranee is still with the Sityodtong Camp, training the next generations of champions for the camp.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON
After the passing of Kru Yodtong in 2013, his son Kru Toy Sityodtong Sriwaralak is now the active manager and head trainer. The camp continues to produce Muay Thai greats. In addition to Samart and Kongtoranee, some of the past champions include the late Samart II Chatchai Praisitong, Sanlium, Yodsanan 3k Battery, Kaensak Sor Ploenjit, Saekson Janjira, Dejpituk Sityodtong, Sakasem Kanthawong, Nuengpichit Sityodtong, Yoddecha Sityodtong, Luktum Tumza and many many more!
A RIGHT OF PASSAGE FOR NAK MUAY LEGENDS
Dutch legends such as Rob Kaman and Ramon Dekkers, and anyone who is anyone in the Muay Thai world, has made the pilgrimage and have gone to train with Dr. Kru Yodtong at his camp. Kai Sityodtong, or student of Yodtong is the name of his camp. These great fighters traveled a great distance to learn Muay Thai from the master himself. It is way more than just a muay thai training camp, it’s a right of passage among foreign fighters that symbolizes that they have come of age in the Muay Thai world.
THE USA BRANCHES OF SITYODTONG
In 1997, Kru Mark DellaGrotte traveled to Thailand, seeking to further improve his training and understanding of the art of Muay Thai. During that first trip to Thailand, Kru Mark was introduced to Master Yodtong Senanan and the Sityodtong Boxing Camp. He was accepted by Master Yodtong, the most famous teacher in the Kingdom, and the Sityodtong Boxing Camp became Mark’s home away from home. Kru Mark lived and trained at the camp, fully immersing himself in the lifestyle of the Nak Muay, or Thai Kickboxer..
Kru Mark’s ability to speak Thai led him to explore Thailand and understand Thai culture. He traveled throughout the Kingdom of Thailand for the next decade, learning different styles of Muay Thai such as Mae Mai Muay Thai, Kun Khmer, Muay Boran, Muay Lao, and Burmese Boxing. As he traveled and studied, he also participated in numerous competitions in Thailand and the United States. In 2003, Kru Mark was officially appointed “Head Conservator” of Sityodtong here in the USA.