This is the ninth in the This Fighting Life series by Underground Blogger DeLeon DeMicoli, whose column is insipred by NPR's "This American Life." It covers in long essay form fighters and those that train.
This is part 2 of his profile of Lynda Chunhawat and the “Bullie” Fight Team.
On June 8th, in the desolate hills of Me-Wuk tribal territory in Northern California, Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort held 8 Limbs Fight Promotion’s Muay Thai Global 2: The Uprise Continues.
The full contact pro/amateur event was held outdoors on a scorcher of a day where temperatures reached one hundred ten degrees. Fights were supposed to begin at seven PM. But due to the sweltering heat that would’ve cooked a raw egg on hot asphalt, fights were pushed back until the sun began to set, allowing the black ring mat to cool down.
Lynda’s “Bullie” Fight Team had three fighters on the card. Jasper Figueroa made his amateur debut at 142 lbs. Lynda’s business partner and co-owner of Dek Wat Muay Thai, Jeremy Dang, was scheduled to have a rematch with a fighter he previously defeated. Then there was Bounthong “Tong” Syvanthong who made his professional debut and was the headliner for the evening.
Although the team went 0-3 that night (Jeremy’s decision loss was questionable), fans seemed to appreciate their fighting style with both Figueroa and Dang’s brawls action-packed and fast-paced. Tong leveled his opponent on more than one occasion, though seemed to tire out as the fight went to the later rounds. But no matter what he got hit with, he continued to stalk his opponent to the very end, cutting off the ring and pushing forward. Not bad for a fighter that hasn’t stepped inside the ring for almost two years.
“I was really proud of my guys, proud of the entire team for helping them get ready. Although the guys didn’t walk away with the win, I have no complaints. They did their best.”
Managing her very own fight team under the Dek Wat Muay Thai banner was a dream in the making. One that started once she decided to push her love for teaching to the next level and open the gym in May 2011.
“I was in Canada at another fight. One of my old trainers was like ‘Hey, you still teaching for somebody else? Hey my friend has a building. It’s ready to go. Call them on Monday and you can open your own gym, but don’t f- -k up.’ So I gave the owner a call, checked out the space, fell in love and sixty days later we opened the gym.”
A few months after Dek Wat Muay Thai rolled up their garage door to the public, the “Bullie” fight team was formed (“Bullie” refers to the nickname “Lil’ Bullie” a fighter from another gym gave to Lynda because he said she was a bully inside the ring).
“Since we’re only two years old the exciting thing is most of our fighters are just getting started, so it’s really fun as a trainer to see them grow, their confidence build after each fight and to help them follow their dreams.”
So what’s next for Dek Wat Muay Thai and Team “Bullie?”
“I’ll be taking two guys, Neil Chan and Cedric Ammouche, with me to compete in the TBA National Muay Thai tournament in Iowa. Last I heard there were over six hundred and fifty competitors. Also, two of our junior fighters are competing on a JMTA card in Sacramento, eight-year-old Jurrell Guinoo and his thirteen-year-old older brother Justin Saephanh.
With a gym to maintain and a team to support, it appears Lynda is doing all of the right things to not only honor her trainers and lifelong connections made with former sparring partners, but also to begin her own legacy as a great fighter and coach, leaving all gender bias aside.
DeLeon DeMicoli writes and trains in San Francisco, CA. He is currently writing a novel on Mixed Martial Arts.
If you or somebody you know trains in martial arts and has an interesting story they would like to share, please email email@example.com
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Previous Pieces by DeLeon DeMicoli:
This Fighting Life 9: Lynda Chunhawat, Part 1
This Fighting Life 8: Author Frank Bill
This Fighting Life 7: Brett “The Hitman” Hart
This Fighting Life 6: Chris “Maximus” McNally
This Fighting Life 5: Kevin Roddy vs. Hurricane Sandy
This Fighting Life 4: Mirko Büchwald
This Fighting Life 3: Bashir Ahmad and MMA in Pakistan
This Fighting Life 2: Diorelle and Brooke
This Fighting Life 1: Casey McEachern