by Don Heatrick

Bryan Popejoy has found himself at the forefront of American Muay Thai since the 1980’s, literally involved from Illinois in the East, through Arizona, to California in the West.

His experience both as a Muay Thai fighter himself (in the early “Wild West” period of American Muay Thai), and as a coach to some of the best fighters in the US, provides a valuable insight into what it takes to succeed in Muay Thai on the world stage.

In this episode…

Bryan Popejoy, coach and owner of Boxing Works Gym in California, a former IFMA Gold medallist Thai boxer himself, and the first US coach to have a fighter win a One Championship title, with Janet Todd. And not to mention a Muay Thai Golden Era aficionado!

You can follow Byan on Instagram @bryanpopejoy, and follow the Boxing Works Gym @boxingworks

And check out the Boxing Works website

Full show notes for this episode with further references and resources below!

Each episode revolves around my Four Big Questions

  1. What’s Your Story?
  2. What’s Your Why?
  3. What Makes A Champion?
  4. Challenges And Lessons Learned?

Digging into the answers to these questions helps uncover and share both the commonalities, and the differences in the journey to become a champion. And can help inspire and fast-track your journey too.

During this informative episode, these are the points you shouldn’t miss…

0:00 – Intro and how Bryan Popejoy got into Muay Thai, from punk rocker to the skinny fighter from the magazines.

6:52 – Does this work? Post High School chapter – from self defense to competition

9:11 – Muay Thai from Illinois, through Arizona, to California

11:14 – Boxing Works Gym… Ending up with a gym, well before he deserved to?! 

12:01 – Stable of fighters: Janet Todd (ONE Championship), Jackie Buntan (ONE Championship) and Nathan Ward (Glory Kickboxing).

13:37 – Intrigue… Hard training and strange cultural aspects!

17:26 – Appreciation for the people in Muay Thai 

19:38 – Going in, all or nothing as a coach to those Bryan loves.

22:58 – Using fighting to get know the real you – willingly putting yourself at risk

24:20 – Flow state for fighters is where it’s at!  

27:30 – Don on using flow to accidentally KO an opponent 

31:10 –  Using your own fight experience to empathise with your fighters

33:38 – The differences a fighter should expect when stepping up to fight on events like the One Championship 

37:37 – Bryan shares what makes a champion?

39:40 – Having the right amount of “selfish” as a fighter  

42:44 – The hidden energy demands that can sabotage a fighter

48:10 – General adaptation syndrome and HRV 

52:03 – Balancing the fighter’s instinct just thrash themselves all the time 

55:45 – Do you need to replicate the Thai training/lifestyle outside of Thailand?

01:00:06 – Fighter’s cultural taboo

01:02:44 – The challenge of finding domestic fighting opportunities for high level female fighters in the US

01:05:17 – Balancing the business side of the gym, with the fighting side, and family life!

01:08:31 – Evolving from cookie cutter training approach to an individualised one

01:12:30 – Recognising you’re not always ready to learn something yet 

01:17:14 – Bryan’s advice to achieve whatever you set out to do

Every so often, an opportunity emerges that can redefine how we train, fight, and thrive.

Today marks one such epic day! The coveted Heavy Hitters Barebones program is swinging its doors open – a golden chance that surfaces just twice a year.

Heavy Hitters Barebones

Doors Remain Open For…


If you purchased either the S&C Accelerator or Minimum Equipment Program (or both) in the past, here’s the deal:

Email me with your login username (email address), and I’ll send you a coupon code to take that amount off of your Heavy Hitters purchase. Commitment has its rewards!

Why does this matter for every western Muay Thai enthusiast, fighter, or coach?

Why Heavy Hitters is Different:

  • Streamlined Efficiency: The life of a Muay Thai enthusiast, coach, or fighter, especially in the West, is brimming with demands. Heavy Hitters understands that. No need for endless hours. You need potent, impactful hours. This program is your answer.

  • Real-world Results: From enthusiasts in Australia to champions in the USA, the feedback is unanimous – Heavy Hitters changes the game. Take it from Paul Banasiak:

     “From broke and broken to moving and competing better than ever. Since working with Don 3 years ago, I haven’t had a single major issue. Don gave me the confidence that has translated itself into three straight knockout wins and a WBC title.”

  • Holistic Training: It’s not merely about more power in your punches or lasting longer. It’s about cultivating a body that’s nimble, powerful, and resistant to injuries.

  • Be Part of Something Greater: Beyond the program lies a fraternity, a global assembly of like-minded souls, all driven by the singular passion to redefine their Muay Thai boundaries.

If tales of triumph intrigue you, delve deeper into Jonathan Lane’s saga – from grappling with an ACL recovery amid fatherhood to clinching the MTA NSW State Title. His secret weapon? The Heavy Hitters program.

Seize your golden chance to level up your Muay Thai journey. Remember, the doors to Heavy Hitters will shut on midnight 22nd Feb and won’t swing open again until September 2024…

But here’s the silver lining – even if you’re not geared up to start immediately, you can reserve your spot in this cohort and start your training whenever you’re ready.

Discover Everything About Heavy Hitters Here!

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram:

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The Science of Building Champions video series
The science of building a Muay Thai champion’s strength & conditioning, which results in…
  • Fastest possible short-term progress
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  • More efficient movement patterns
  • Better technique
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  • The Optimum 12-Week Fight Camp