When I first began training in the martial arts during the mid-Sixties (March 3rd, 1965) I developed a very keen interest in Muay Thai. But this was limited to brief newspaper articles and occasional television exposure in the form of obscure documentaries etc.

During the Seventies and 1980-81-82 while Benny ‘THE JET’ Urquidez was building a reputation as the world’s best ‘Kickboxer’ (still wearing his trade mark Karate Belt and long pants) easily defeating all challengers including only the elite of Japans best champions – we had been busy in Australia (since 1976) developing the sport of kickboxing and World Kickboxing Association (WKA).

All the while we just kept on hearing about these notorious fighters of Thailand. 

Then we heard of Holland’s Vos gym and the Chakuriki style of Thom Harrink with his top students in the early Eighties including Gilbert Ballantine, Tekken Donmez and many others; during 1983-84-85 they had gone to Thailand and trained and fought…Got knocked out - got flogged - lost on points.

Thom Harinck (front) with (from left to right): Gilbert Ballantine, Branco Cikatic and Peter Aerts

Thom Harinck (front) with (from left to right): Gilbert Ballantine, Branco Cikatic and Peter Aerts

These same guys patched up their wounds and their pride, trained harder and fought harder...Achieved some very tough fight drawn decisions - started winning on points - started to win by the occasional Knock Out. This paved the way for the next wave of champions, Holland’s Rob Kaman and Ramon Dekker, and England’s Ronnie Green.


An international situation (connected to Australia’s Alan Bond and his Americas Cup) during 1986-87 had Rod Stroud and myself travelling the Globe all across America and throughout Europe (thanks to Alan Bond and West Australian Premier Mr Ray O’Connor paying all of our bills), which included Amsterdam, Holland.

Of course, we trained with the Vos Gym and spent time with Thom Harrink. One night we were training with Tekken Donmez and I asked, “Where did you learn to punch, kick, knee and elbow your combinations with so much power?” “SIDYODTHONG THAILAND” was his very positive simple answer.

Before we left Holland Thom told me something else I have never forgotten, “Bob, when you go home always train your fighters with ‘eight weapons’ (eg. Hand strikes, elbows, knees and kicks), it is much easier to take weapons out, than to add weapons in, you only need ‘one week’ of full training to delete ‘one set’ of weapons from any fighter who is fighting fit - you need months to add any extra weapons”.

After training with the Vos gym and with Thom Harrink, Rod Stroud and I decided we would launch the Thai training quietly in WA and see how it would be received. Rod was already an accomplished kickboxing trainer and from his BJC – ZDK martial arts training was extremely good with elbows and knees. Thus, Thai boxing came easy to him. The proof is in the many champions he produced for many years to come.

1988-89 and 1990 were our first three of 28 annual trips (including 2009) to Thailand, training at one of the best gyms over there - ‘SIDYODTHONG’ - with Grand Master Sennin Yodthong as our major influence.

For this tour details, contact Matt Ball, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“If you strive to be better than the rest, go train with the best”.

After Perth, the next interest came from Queensland and New Zealand. These three regions still lead the way with Muay Thai popularity within Australasia today.

Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales followed and have grown respectively.