Fan page for Mark Wakeling and his gym

When Mark first saw Muay Thai, he was amazed by this full contact ring sport that incorporated boxing with knees, shin kicks, elbows and defensive work.

The day after, he found a club called Jakapong, run by a Thai man who called himself Master Boon. He claimed that he was the number three Thai trainer in the whole of Thailand and chief instructor to the Thai army. Being completely inexperienced in Muay Thai at this stage, Mark was impressed, and felt lucky to have found such a famous Master only a mile from my own home.

Within six months of training at Jakapong, he became the best Thai boxer in the club, and within two years Boon had promoted him to a red Khan instructor. In 1992, he was entered into a fight. Boon showed up at his house the night before and took him to a club, persuading Mark that he needed a drink to help him relax as well as make him stronger for the fight the next day. He did not question his instructor and had a drink, but Boon continued to consistently bring him drink after drink until Mark was completely inebriated. This is the point where alarm bells began to ring.

He boarded a coach to the fight in Wigan the next morning completely hungover. To make matters worse, when they arrived, Boon told Mark that he had forgotten to bring bandages, and improvised by wrapping his hands with two rags and brown box tape. His opponent, Shawn Johnson, on the other hand, boasted three of the greatest Thai trainers in the country in his corner; Master Toddy, Master A and Master Pisces.

When the fight started, he suddenly realised that he did not know the first thing about competing in Muay Thai. Mark lacked Thai style and body conditioning, and was never taught to grapple. He was about to face the worst nightmare of his life.

Every shot that Johnson threw elevated him from the canvas. He was lucky to see it through two rounds with only two broken ribs, ripped thighs, a black eye, a bruised jaw and a headache that lasted around eight weeks. Despite this devastation in the ring, the hardest thing to come to terms with was the realisation that he had just wasted three years of dedicated training with one of the worst cowboys in Muay Thai that this country has ever seen.

After the nightmare was over, he began training at the Thai temples in Wimbledon and Manchester, where he met Sammit. Within only two months of training with him, he had learnt more than he had learnt in all his years of other martial arts training, and the improvement was not stopping. After training with Sammit and his brother, Mark never got beaten again. In fact, he went on to only lose one fight in the UK upon a controversial decision.

Just when he thought that his career could be nearing an end, Sammit brought over Bonart Krongsak, six-times Lumpini Stadium champion and three-times world champion, who had defeated much heavier opponents such as Rob Kaman. Sammit arranged private lessons between them, where Krongsak truly delivered a champion’s knowledge and training. He went on to represent England as the light heavyweight in the 1998 King’s Cup in Thailand, something Mark still so proud of.

He will always remember Jan Hart, Sammit Murnramon and his brother, Bonart Krongsak and the Bangrajan camp for teaching him the true meaning and spirit of Muay Thai, and he will never forget that the success of Scorpions is an extension of Sammit’s own success.