Dejdamrong is known as a technical fighter with quick hands and lightning feet. He has some of the most unique and creative striking combinations in the sport of Muay Thai. Dejdamrong is a certified Muay Thai instructor from Thailand who brings over 25 years of competitive experience to Evolve MMA.
Long before I fought MMA, I was a Muay Thai fighter. I was a muay bou, an aggressive fighter. I would charge in every fight, ready for a battle. That’s probably why I earned the nickname “Ai Ta Du,” which means “fierce eyes” in English. From the time I started Muay Thai at 9 years old to facing my opponents in the MMA cage at 37 years of age, I never let my fear get the best of me. I was always there to fight, to win, and I wouldn’t let anyone stop me.
When I started training Muay Thai, I was 9 years old. The neighborhood kids and I would play around on the streets in our village in Trang, play fighting with each other. My father was the one who introduced me to Muay Thai. We would walk to our neighbor’s house and watch fights together on TV. We talked about our favorite fighters and the beautiful techniques they showed onscreen. I would train at home, kicking an old sack of rice filled with sand. I also trained at the local sala with the other children. Our trainer was a PE teacher from one of our schools who liked Muay Thai. It was like we had our own camp. For about one year, all we learned was how to do a jab and cross and shadowbox. Our training was far from technical, but we had fun.
A year later, I had my first fight. My father was ecstatic, but my mother had no idea I was even fighting. After all, she wasn’t the biggest fan of my becoming a Muay Thai fighter. The promoter asked me what my name was, and I said it was Tamrong, unfortunately, on the card it said Damrong. This was eventually how I would get my name. Luckily, because of this, my mother only found out I was fighting when I got inside the ring. You could just imagine the shock on her face when she saw me getting ready to do my wai kru. I won this fight by points, and this inspired me to keep on training. Of course, my mother eventually gave in and let me fight.
At 12 years old, I moved to my trainer’s house together with my training partners. We made our own makeshift boxing ring. We even wrapped some big trees with cloth so we could practice our teeps on them. I trained here for a few years, moved to a camp in Hatyai then eventually I moved to the Lookbanyai camp at 16.
I was studying the entire time. It was my dream to finish university someday. I knew that a good education would give me the opportunities I never had, coming from a poor family in Trang. I gave all my prize money to my family. I knew they had it tough. I remember not seeing my parents for months at a time because they needed to look for work elsewhere. But when he was around, my father would visit me at Hatyai just to watch me train. At one point, he even bought a motorcycle so he could see me sooner.
My first month at Lookbanyai was a true test for me. It was tough. We would wake up, run, train, go to school, train more and repeat it again the next day. They didn’t treat us like kids. We had to kick bags until we couldn’t anymore – it’s like they wanted to break us. I remember crying before I would go to sleep that first month, I was so frustrated. The trainer would get all the bigger guys to spar and clinch with me and beat me up. It was the most grueling experience of my life.
But the older kids at Lookbanyai were very supportive. They said that it wouldn’t be this hard forever. After that first month, I loved being at Lookbanyai. Pa Jo, the camp owner, was like a father to the rest of the boys. He always made sure that we had enough food to eat, that we slept well and went to school. I made lots of friends at Lookbanyai, including multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Sanghirun Lookbanyai and his elder brother. Because of the friends I made and Pa Jo, I feel that training at Lookbanyai were some of the best years of my entire career.
I will never forget my fight against Yodsanklai. He was still Yodsanklai Petchyindee back then, and we were fighting for the Lumpinee 105 pound title belt. This would be the fight that would define both my career and my style as a fighter. I’d give anything to see a video of that fight, but I still remember everything that happened. I walked into that fight without training kicks in my right leg. I had injured my leg previously and I couldn’t use it at all. This made me nervous because it was different from what I was used to. I had to keep on kicking with my left leg during training. I had no choice. My trainer said that if I didn’t fight Yodsanklai, he couldn’t guarantee when my next title fight would be. In Thailand, title fights are few and far between. So when the chance came to me, I had to go for it.
In the first two rounds, Yodsanklai and I were just feeling each other out, trying to see which techniques would work. The third round was a different story. We started to exchange punches and kicks and I managed to knock Yodsanklai down onto the ground. He was able to quickly recover and bounced back with some brutal elbows that cut me in three places. His elbows were so strong that my mouthpiece flew out of my mouth. We kept on exchanging punches, elbows, kicks — the referee couldn’t stop the fight and put the mouthpiece back in for me. Yodsanklai clearly won that round. We continued to exchange blows till the 5th round, and in the end, the judges gave me the win.
This fight really tested me. I was ready to give up many times, but I knew deep inside that I had a really good chance of winning if I kept on going. I remembered my family and how they were counting on me for support. My younger brother, especially. I was in charge of sending him to school. I remembered what my father had always told me, about being resilient enough to stand up to all the hardships I would encounter. Because of this, I was able to soldier on through the fight.
Because I was such an aggressive fighter, my fighting style began to take a toll on me, especially as I got older. When I was 29, my form started to drop and I started to lose some fights. Because of this, there was less of a demand for me. They wanted younger fighters, so it became hard for me to send money home. I started taking whatever fights I could get. I remember fighting in Malaysia for very little money in a Muay Thai fight with very different rules. By some luck, I was offered a fight in Japan in 2007. They asked me how much I wanted for the fight and I said that I would take whatever they gave me. I think deciding to say this confirmed my fight. When I left for Japan, I brought a small bag with me, thinking that I would be there for a few days. I ended up staying for a few years, teaching and fighting at the same time.
Despite the hardships I experienced, I believe that Muay Thai has given me everything I’ve ever wanted in life. Because of Muay Thai, I was able to support my family and even send my brother to university. I know that this was my dream, but I’m happy that my brother was able to live it for me. I was never able to finish my university degree, but I’m glad that I was able to help my brother do so. Here at Evolve, I can continue to provide for my family and give them opportunities that I could only dream of in the past.
When you’re a fighter, you’re only focused on yourself. On your abilities, what you can do inside the ring and what you can do to win that prize money. When you’re a teacher, you have to be selfless. You have to direct all your energy into making your students better. And for me, nothing is more rewarding than this. To my students who want to become fighters, I will tell them that it’s not an easy life. To be a great fighter, you have to put your career in your own hands. Your trainers, the camp owners, they’re there to help you, but ultimately, it is you who has the power to decide whether or not you want to kick bags for a few more rounds or run 3 kilometers more because you want to be the best. Taking your own initiative requires a lot of discipline; it’s not for the faint of heart. This is the reason why not everyone dares to step into the ring. To be a fighter, you need to be a warrior.
Train with Muay Thai Legend Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke at