By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
The boys spent the next six years being teenagers, excelling at football and baseball in high school.
"We took time off to be kids," Nick says, adding that he would have pursued baseball further had he not fallen in love with Muay Thai.
"I think that, if I had continued [in martial arts] in those five years, I would've been so burned out. My body would be so broken down that I don't think I'd be able to fight. The way we trained was tough, and the way we train now is even harder."
When Nick and Damien were 19 and 18, they decided it was time to revisit martial arts. And their father was standing by.
The two began spending hours in the gym stretching, jumping rope, shadow boxing, sprinting, and sparring.
Nick, who lives in Phoenix with his girlfriend, Talie Jean Baca, trains for three hours each morning, takes a brief break to eat, and then heads to the gym for another three hours of nonstop training.
Training is Chasteen's job while Baca works for an event-planning company. Damien supports himself by working part-time as a security guard at Tempe bars.
Baca met Chasteen at the gym and since has become the publicist for him and Damien. She relentlessly reps both brothers.
"Nick and I live together, we train together, and we're moving to the top together," she says. "I'm so excited for him and Damien. Twenty-fourteen is going to be a huge year!"
The training has earned Chasteen many amateur U.S. Muay Thai Association titles: Intercontinental, Tri-State Welterweight, Western Regional Modified Rules, Arizona State Light Welterweight, Dual State Light Welterweight, and Regional Welterweight.
Damien holds amateur USMTA titles, including a Southwest regional championship.
"He's my main training and sparring partner," Nick says. "We have the same build, same heart, same techniques. It's kinda hard [when we're training] because we both know what we're throwing."
The brothers' parents always are squarely planted in the audience, cheering on whichever son's in the ring.
"My mom's the loudest one at fights," Nick says, recalling a time years ago when she jumped in the ring to confront a coach after one of his battles.
John says it's tough to see his boys getting knocked around but that it's the nature of the game.
"As I've gotten older, I have mellowed out a bit," he says. "I've been trying to keep up with them. But, at shows, I have to pin myself to my seat so I don't cause them any embarrassment."
In his first pro fight as a kickboxer, Damien knocked out his opponent in the third round.
"He's got more fights than me, even though he's my younger brother. He's put in just as much hard work, if not more," Nick says.
The little brother says he couldn't imagine doing anything else.
"For me, growing up, it was about spending time with my family. And, second, it was enjoying the fights," Damien says. "I felt the stress on me, but on the day of the fight, it just came normal to me."
Kent says Damien's name has come up as a potential pugilist as Lion Fight plans its upcoming Muay Thai matches.
"He's fought for us on a previous card. Nick and Damien always have been very professional with us. We'd certainly like to get Damien in early in 2014," he says.
Damien is scheduled to fight in China on January 11, while Nick's next fight is set for February 7 in Vegas.
Damian doesn't mind the broken bones or chipped teeth that inevitably will come.
"Nick always has been the pretty boy," he says. "I was a football lineman and weighed 220 pounds. Now that I'm lean, I don't really care about my looks. To me, scars add beauty. They mean you have a life story to tell."
The brothers can't give enough credit for their success to their father's work ethic.
"I looked up to him in every way and listened to every story he told me about life and fighting," Nick wrote in a profile posted on the USMTA website. "My dad worked his butt off at every aspect, as a fighter, trainer, father, and husband . . . We knew that we were not going to be handed anything for free. We were going to have to earn everything through hard work."
Despite the intense workouts, John says, he never expected his sons to end up as professional combat fighters.
"Everything's going gangbusters," he says, gleaming with pride over Nick's recent bout in Vegas and a fight in China with Damien on the card. "Who would have known?"
Bob Karmel, a Thailand-trained fighter, had a pretty good idea about the brothers' potential.
They call him Master Bob, a title he earned after three decades as a fighter, instructor, and one of the first Americans to fight and train fighters in Thailand.
The website www.tigermuaythai.com describes the sport's eight points of contact as mimicking ancient weapons of war.
"Hands become the sword and dagger, shins and forearms [are] hardened in training to act as armor against blows, and the elbow [is used] to fell opponents like a heavy mace or hammer, the legs and knees [are] the ax and staff. The body [operates] as one unit. The knees and elbows [search] constantly, and [the fighter tests] for an opening while grappling and trying to spin an enemy to the ground for the kill."