No controversy here, local gyms elated to learn of Muay Thai’s return to San Diego

Muay Thai or the art of fighting with eight limbs is like no other sport. Before each bout, you hear this reedy music playing and then see the fighters going around the ring and briefly stopping at all four corners. Upon completion, they then kneel to pray and give homage to their gym, trainers and family. The fighters are performing the wai kru ram muay ritual. On completion, the music will stop but start again when the fighters begin their fight.

On Saturday, January 7, 2017, starting at 7 p.m., Dennis Warner & In Sync Productions will be returning to their roots, the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel on Aero Drive and hosting what is expected to be a Muay Thai show of the highest order featuring not one, not two, but four title fights. It has been quite a while since this Southern California-based Muay Thai promotions company has hosted a show in our fair city and you can be sure the local fans will be both excited and boisterous as they cheer on these magnificent fighters. There is talk that Warner’s group could be making the Sheraton their home base and it’s been said they’ve already signed a deal to host three additional shows at the same venue.


 

In addition to the Four Points By Sheraton, past Muay Thai shows have been staged at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, on the Pala Indian Reservation and at the Imperial Beach Boys and Girls Club. More than a few of the earlier participants in these shows have moved on to bigger things, like Bellator MMA, the Glory Fight Series or even the UFC. With the wealth of home-grown talent on the rise, it’s likely the promoters felt it made s lot of sense to return to the spawning ground of the best talent in the Martial Arts. 

Thoughts, feelings, actions from our local gyms: John Vargas from the Valor Muay Thai Academy: “Training was on point as always with Martin, Burro & Israel from the Entram Gym of Tijuana helping Antonio Arango to prepare for Saturday. Best training you can get is when everyone has the same goal….WIN!! You don’t wanna miss his fight!!! Antonio is making his U.S. Debut on Saturday at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel in San Diego. It’s been a long time since professional Muay Thai hit San Diego, so we want to make sure that everyone comes out and sees these guys put on a show. Also representing the Valor flag we have Francisco Garcia fighting for the WBC Super Welterweight National Title against the always tough Landon Simmons!”

(top, left) After barging into Francisco Garcia’s bathroom, one of his home boys displays the tickets he purchased for the show. Garcia’s response to the intrusion: “See, you can even get your tickets while I’m in the bathtub playing with my Ken and Barbie dolls.” (top right) “My homies came through again and bought my last four tickets.” (bottom) The crew of the Valor Fight Club poses for a quick photo with the gentlemen from the Tijuana Gym.

Also on the fight card is Alyshia “Code Red” Madison who is now out of the Navy and teaching Muay Thai at the Victory MMA Gym in Point Loma. After fighting for over a year at the Hollywood Park Casino and hotels in Las Vegas, she is happy to be back fighting in front of the home folk.                                               When it comes to Muay Thai, a fighter like Alyshia Madison needs to have                                                                                                    complete confidence in her coach and that’s why she has stuck with her                                                                                                          present coach, the veteran Steven Frye.

Flores versus Flores, what’s up with that?

Selina Flores has had an ideal life; what some might call a magical life. Everything seems to go her way. One of the most popular boys in her school is her boyfriend and he just happens to play on the football team. Her Mom is one of her best friends and always has her back. Mom named her daughter after the singer Selena. Mommy’s treasure joined the choir and became a terrific singer. Her Dad took Selina to The Compound MMA gym to learn self-defense and at first, she hated it. After a short time, she was loving it and became the best female fighter in the gym. Her coaches are in love with her because she exceeds every expectation. Ask her to do an exercise 30 times and she’ll do it 50, 30 push-ups and she’ll do 50. Her stamina is unreal. Like Selina, Ana Flores has had all of the above. In another words, this is going to be a terrific, memorable battle to the finish.

Selina Flores’ support group stands behind her 100%. From the boyfriend who goes over the top when asking his sweetheart to the homecoming dance, to the Gym owner/pro-fighter Sean Loeffler who always has time for counseling, to the loyal coach John Schultes who keeps fine-tuning his prodigy to defeat an upcoming opponent. In regards to the fighters’ catch weight, Selina has been on weight ever since the second week of December.

Additional bouts are scheduled but the fighter’s opponent haven’t been established. The fighters on the undercard include: flyweight Monica Teran from the Art of Eight Fitness & Training Center, heavyweight Mario Ramirez from the Sarkissian Muay Thai Gym, plus welterweight James Gregory and featherweight Brian Cunningham from the Art of Eight Fitness & Training Center.

So who should we be thanking for this resurgence? Besides the show’s promoter, Dennis Warner of In Sync Productions, we have Sarinda Chaney, the widow of the beloved Grand Master Bob Chaney who passed away in March of 2016. Mrs. Chaney vowed to make this change of venue happen. While the leadership in most sports always seems to be in flux, you need someone like Sarinda Chaney to hold things together. As a former Muay Thai fighter, well-respected trainer, gym owner, and WCK official, Sarinda Chaney certainly has the acumen to accomplish her goal. She’s been involved in the sport’s transformation, not only here in the U. S., but in Thailand. Therefore, there can be no doubt that Saturday’s show will be memorable and feature top-notch bouts.

Since its creation, Dennis Warner’s Insync Productions has evolved to be more than just a local fight promotion company; he is credited with the development of the internationally recognized U. S. Muay Thai series of amateur tournaments, which not only became the U.S.’s fastest growing Muay Thai organization, but they have helped produce one of the most successful national teams to ever compete at the International level.

No, Gina Carano and John Claude Van Damme will not be present, but Mike Lemaire and Melchor Menor might. The much decorated Tiffany Van Soest got her start in WCK Muay Thai with Dennis Warner. Warner has turned dreams into reality. By having the proper venues and performing well as an amateur, these athletes then have an opportunity to be a part of the U.S. National team and compete at the prestigious World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

Upcoming Muay Thai events on the world stage:
May 3rd thru May 12th, 2017, the IFMA World Championships in Minsk, Belarus
July 20 thru July 30, 2017, the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland
August 3 thru August 11, 2017, the 2017 Youth World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand
August 24 thru August 31, 2017, the South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, MAS
Sept. 17 thru Sept. 27, 2017, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
May 1 thru May 31, 2018, the 2018 IFMA World Championships in Mexico City, Mexico
July 23 thru July 31, 2018, the FISU World University Championships in Bangkok, Thailand
October 25, 2018 thru October 29, 2018, the 2018 Pan American Championships in Cancun, Mexico

Then, what do you know, the professional ranks come a calling as they did for our very own Tiffany Van Soest who was part of Kru Alex Palma’s Blue Ocean Mauy Thai family. The much decorated Muay-Thai and Shorin-ryu karate practitioner signed a joint agreement with Invicta MMA and the kickboxing organization Glory which allowed her to compete for both promotions. With this development, the 27-year-old, who was the first fighter in Lion Fight Promotion history to capture two World Championship titles in two weight classes, became the first woman to be offered an exclusive contract with Lion Fight. 

Tiffany “Time Bomb” Van Soest (right) made her Glory debut on May 13, 2016, winning a unanimous decision over Esma Hasshass.


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About the Author

Jim Wyatt, a 1970 graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has written weekly sports features for several Military newspapers, WCKMuayThai.com, SportofBoxing.com and Examiner.com as their San Diego Boxing Examiner. He was one of the four "Wise Guys" who predicted winning football selections versus the Vegas spreads. Some of the people he enjoyed meeting: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, WWF Wrestler Lita, LaDainian Tomlinson, Nate Kaeding and Darren Bennett of the Chargers, Tony Gwynn and Jake Peavy of the Padres, soccer stars Shannon MacMillan and Julie Foudy, Mixed Martial Artists Cris Cyborg, Junior Dos Santos, the Nogueira brothers plus the many great people involved in boxing and Muaythai.