In a column on, writer C.C. Anderson says it will take much hard work by promoters to build Muay Thai into a fan favorite in the United States.

"There aren't enough fighters or promotions to create an appropriate weeding system," he wrote. "Muay Thai in America still is in its relative infancy."

He credits Kent and Lion Fight for "receiving lots of international attention, as has M-ONE [an Amsterdam promoter] for putting on good fights."

Master Bob Karmel in front of a shrine that honors his former teachers.
Andrew Pielage
Master Bob Karmel in front of a shrine that honors his former teachers.
Chasteen performs a ritual before each fight.
Andrew Pielage
Chasteen performs a ritual before each fight.
Nick and Damien suit up to spar.
Andrew Pielage
Nick and Damien suit up to spar.

The combat style's challenged in America, he wrote, because Muay Thai gyms mostly were abandoned when MMA's popularity skyrocketed. This,while Thai-style boxers in other countries — Japan and the Netherlands, for example — continued to hone skills and refine techniques.

As for Kent, he's confident that intense matchups at shows will draw bigger crowds.

"The nice thing about Muay Thai is there are no easy fights," he says. "In boxing, they would take a guy like Nick and say ,'We're going to build him up.' Then, they'd put 15 or 20 guys in front of him who aren't going to be able to knock him out [so he looks better]. We've never been about that. We put in very tough guys against Nick."

Arjan Carlos Moreno, who formed the Texas-based American Muay Thai Association, laments that Muay Thai isn't getting anywhere near the recognition of the UFC.

His point is that Muay Thai's the soccer of the combat-sports industry — it's fiercely popular in countries around the world, but it doesn't resonate with U.S. fans as much as other ring sports.

In America, there are just too many martial-arts choices, he says. But he, too, credits Lion Fight for bringing unprecedented attention to the sport.

"[Lion Fight has] one of a few different Muay Thai events that are televised," Moreno says. "And Scott Kent puts on a really good show . . . He's really pushing to make it national. Promoters like him are only going to spark interest."

After his professional debut in Vegas, Nick Chasteen holds a bag of ice to his ankle for a few minutes, then moves it to his knee. His face is flushed and blood has pooled beneath the skin on his nose.

Blood's spattered on his white silk shorts.

He didn't knock out his opponent, but he outscored him, giving Chasteen a victory in the pro bout aired live on cable TV to combat-sports enthusiasts.

Karmel controlled the bleeding on Nick's face during the fight with cotton swabs dipped in epinephrine drawn from a vial. Now, after the fight, he dabs a medication on the laceration with gauze.

Chasteen winces.

"You gotta keep going for it," the young man says through the pain. Disoriented after the beating he took on the way to the win, Nick remains defiant: "Yeah, I got kicked in the face, but in the end, he was more banged up than I was."

He vows to train harder and put on an even better show when he takes the stage again in Vegas in February. The pain he just suffered from his chosen sport makes Muay Thai even more of an obsession for him.

"We're all a little fucked up in the head for even going into that ring," he says. "I can't see myself doing anything else."

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets