by Galen Okazaki
In what has been the biggest year in American Muay Thai to date, we fans have been treated to more outstanding fight cards and performances than ever before. Many of these performances have included some of the biggest names in international Muay Thai and with all of this the level of American Muay Thai has risen to new heights. With Kevin Ross’ epic performance against Saenchai Sinibi, Ky Hollenbeck’s string of strong performances against international opponents and Joe Schilling’s domination of Kaoklai the momentum is clear. Throughout this memorable year Chaz Mulkey has quietly put together one of the best seasons of the year. With victories over Douglas Edwards, Ken Tran, Remy Bonnell and another victory at MBK while training in Thailand he has gone 4-0. With his victory over Bonnell in August he won the WBC Muay Thai International Middleweight belt. This string of victories over high level opponents has put Mulkey into any discussion about top American nak muays. A victory over a very tough Simon Chu on November 19th at the fourth installment of Lion Fight Promotion’s Battle in the Desert would give Mulkey an incredible season and huge momentum leading into 2012.
Unlike some of the others we have met here in “Profiles”, Chaz Mulkey did not aspire be fighter. Growing up in his hometown of Dallas TX, soccer was Mulkey’s sport of choice. He played from grade school through high school and he was very good at it, playing varsity level soccer for three years. Becoming a fighter was the last thing on his mind. But as his high school years came to an end his soccer career was over. Not really having thought about what was next he faced a future with no real direction. So like many of us at that stage in our lives he started partying and getting into trouble. Over the next four to five years he had numerous brushes with the law and was arrested a handful of times for various non-violent offenses. He had his driving license revoked and even spent some time in TDC (jail) for going into a neighbor’s open garage and smashing a bunch of golf clubs.
Everything came to a head one night when he was involved in a serious car accident. While driving drunk, he ran into a parked car, totaling his car and injuring himself in the process. As luck would have it, a passer-by picked him up and drove him to a friend’s house who was a nurse. His head was cut open and bleeding from hitting the windshield, but she was able to stitch him up. He slept it off and returned to the scene the following morning. Fortunately for Chaz, he was not arrested or ever charged for the incident. Given his current status of being on parole along with his history of trouble, this could have been the incident that would have sent him back to prison for a very long time. It served to be the wake-up call that Chaz needed, it was time to clean up his life.
The timing of all of this just happened to coincide with Chaz’s introduction to Muay Thai. At the time he was working in a night club in Dallas and a friend who also worked there was wearing a Muay Thai shirt. Intrigued, Chaz asked him about Muay Thai. His friend had been training at Saekson’s gym, so Chaz went down one day to check it out. After his first training session, at age 25 he was instantly hooked. When his car accident happened, Muay Thai became the vehicle for him to clean up his life. From that point on he trained with Saekson as often as he could. He found that he loved the discipline and focus that training gave him. He started training 6-8 hours a day. Within six months however, Chaz had decided to move to Las Vegas. His family was in Vegas and after having lived in Dallas his entire life he needed a change of atmosphere. Chaz knew though that he wanted to continue training in Muay Thai. Fortunately Saekson was able to put Chaz in touch with Master Toddy in Las Vegas.
Immediately upon arriving in Vegas, Chaz started training with Master Toddy. Initially he trained with all of the others in regular classes, but by this point Chaz knew he wanted to fight. When he told Master Toddy and he was put into the group with the fighters. At the time the group already included Kevin Ross and Mark Beecher. Master Toddy was able to arrange Mulkey’s first fight within two weeks of his arriving in Las Vegas. Chaz ended up winning his first fight and over the course of the next few years he ran his amateur record to 16-0. Throughout all of this time, Mulkey continued to hone his skills by training with Ross and Beecher.
Having done all he could in the amateur ranks, Chaz was ready to turn pro. As fate would have it his very first pro fight would be against Douglas Edwards in his home town of Dallas. This would be his first trip back after having left for Las Vegas. All of his old friends knew that Chaz had cleaned up and had been fighting. This was his chance to show what he had made of himself. He let all of his old friends know that he was coming to town to fight and any of them who could make it were there. Chaz ended up winning the fight. The entire experience turned out to be bittersweet for Chaz. He was happy with the win and happy to reconnect with old friends but he knew that his life was no longer in Dallas.
Chaz Mulkey’s second professional fight proved to be one of the most important of his career. He was matched up against a well known fighter with a lot of experience on the international level, Marfio Canoletti the former Brazilian K-1 MAX GP Champion. It was a very tough fight but Mulkey held his own and actually felt he was winning the fight until Canoletti caught him with an elbow to the forehead in the last round. The elbow opened a deep cut and the fight was called due to a doctor’s stoppage. While he had lost the fight, Chaz now knew in his heart that he could fight at this high level.
Mulkey’s most memorable fight to date turned out to be his fourth professional fight. Bryce Krause was one of the fighters that Chaz had been aware of as he moved his way up the ranks. At that point in his career, Krause had already had 10 professional fights and Chaz looked up to him. As it turned out, the fight ended quickly with a Chaz knocking out Bryce halfway through the first round. Mulkey was able to catch an off balance Krause with a hook and knock him out. The knock out was the first ever for Chaz.
From that point on Chaz has continued to fight quality opponents. Much like his stable mate Kevin Ross, he has never ducked quality opponents. Leading into this season he fought and lost a decision to Remy Bonnell (the first time) and suffered a TKO loss to a destroyer named Joe Schilling.
From the very early days of his fighting career at Master Toddy’s, Chaz Mulkey’s primary training partner has been Kevin Ross. They quickly formed a close friendship and to this day they continue to support each other both in and outside of the gym. Given where they have both come from, the support outside of the gym is especially important. Kevin has always been there to keep Chaz on point, making sure that he’ll be coming into the gym the next morning if he’s planning to go out that night. Kevin’s rise to being the top American Nak Muay has been hugely inspirational to Chaz, keeping him motivated to bring his own career to the same heights. Above all else, Chaz points to Kevin’s singular devotion to what he does as being his biggest inspiration.
Muay Thai has become a huge part of Chaz Mulkey’s life. It has helped him clean it up. It has given him focus and purpose. It allows him to train and travel with his best friends. While he has a day job and a good life outside of fighting, being a Muay Thai fighter is what he is most passionate about. American Muay Thai has reached rarified heights this year and Chaz Mulkey has been a very big part of that.