by Don Heatrick

Wasted Opportunities!

Most of us visiting Thailand to train are fleeting visitors at best, and fail to understand the nuance of Thai culture and the business of Muay Thai in Thailand…

This both prevents us from getting the most from our time in Thailand, and from effectively contributing to the Muay Thai businesses that must remain viable to continue to share their art with us!

In this episode…

Dr. Lynne Miller, Founder and director of Sumalee Boxing Gym in Phuket Thailand, and author of her new book Fighting For Success…

Lynne has a PhD in Psychology, a postgraduate qualification in digital marketing, and considerable UK business experience…

And now with over a decade of experience immersed in everything behind the scenes in the business of Muay Thai in Thailand, in this episode you will learn a lot!

Guest Links

You can follow Sumalee Boxing Gym both on Instagram @sumaleephuket and Facebook @SumaleeBoxingGym

And you can pick up a copy of Lynne’s book, “Fighting for Success: Unravelling the Muay Thai Business in Thailand” from Amazon both in print:



And audio book format:

I highly recommend this book to anyone visiting Thailand to train, so you understand the Muay Thai scene and get the best out of your interaction with your trainers…

And of course check out the Gym website

Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00:00 – Intro and how Lynne found herself living (her dream) in Thailand, and owning a Muay Thai gym!
  • 00:04:22 – Muay Thai in Thailand is not just for fighters
  • 00:05:03 – An unbelievable offer to partner in a Muay Thai gym
  • 00:05:55 – A retirement project: The desire to help the Muay Thai gym grow
  • 00:08:44 – Cultural differences lead to the partnership running its course
  • 00:09:44 – A period of reflection, 3 people left in limbo, a successful gym is born
  • 00:12:15 – Had I have known the challenges, I’d have never done it!
  • 00:13:27 – Surviving the pandemic as a Muay Thai business
  • 00:15:24 – Offering accommodation onsite (hotel license) made huge difference
  • 00:16:11 – Decimation of the fight scene in Thailand during the pandemic
  • 00:17:22 – Understanding the two business models that Muay Thai gyms in Thailand survive by, and how you as a western visitor contribute… or DON’T
  • 00:18:48 – Without a solid business foundation, we don’t have Muay Thai
  • 00:19:11 – Gym viability – fewer gyms now sponsor fighters
  • 00:22:24 – Shortcuts come around to bite you, and shirk your responsibility to your whole team
  • 00:24:35 – Giving back to Thailand!
  • 00:26:00 – Our responsibility as visitors to help Thailand develop, and truly value Muay Thai
  • 00:26:50 – Continuous growth, creating a consistent, professional environment
  • 00:29:33 – Even your ‘best’ people can be a cancer to your gym
  • 00:32:25 – To get the best out of your trainer… Understand how traditional Thai social and cultural hierarchy affects your relationships in Thailand
  • 00:37:01 – The challenge of introducing alternative methods in Thailand without breaking down relationships
  • 00:40:09 – Truly gifted fighters have things you can’t teach
  • 00:43:27 – The downside of being a talented, gifted fighter!
  • 00:44:59 – The importance of charisma! Become an entertaining fighter that puts on a show
  • 00:46:25 – Communication! The importance of Thai language in expressing thoughts and learning what’s going on!
  • 00:49:40 – Less than 10% of those that come out to Thailand want to fight
  • 00:51:15 – Different regions in Thailand offer different levels of competitive fighting opportunity
  • 00:53:27 – Traditional gyms vs commercial gyms, and fighter training and competition
  • 00:55:22 – Staying in Thailand longer than a year isn’t helpful for the vast majority of fighters
  • 00:58:33 – You can’t survive on fight purses alone – the danger of poverty for long-term fighters in Thailand
  • 00:59:24 – Nutrition is a big player in sustaining performance improvements without burning out
  • 01:03:55 – Be prepared!… Have the funds and choose the best location
  • 01:05:01 – Sustainable business is the foundation of Muay Thai

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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