I began writing this article the morning I received the news that Damien Alamos had successfully defended his Lumpinee Title in an incredible fight with Thai contender Arunchai Pranyeesiphok. However, this profile on the young French Muay Thai sensation has been in production for what seems like months now. Gathering research on a particular fighter in order to coherently and fairly tell their story is hard enough but when most of the information you receive comes from a fighters humble but incredibly proud father, you definitely take your time to make sure everything turns out perfect.
I have been hearing about Damien Alamos for over a year now. His exploits may be unknown to those who don’t follow the Muay Thai circuit in Thailand closely but for those who do, the young French star definitely looked like he was going to amount to something special. Most die hard Muay Thai fans now know of Damien Alamos due to his historic Lumpinee Title win over Kongfah Auddormueng. Before Damien, only one other “falang” (foreigner in Thai), Frenchman Mourad Sari, had managed such a feat. And at only 21 years of age, many knew that Damien Alamos’ story had only just begun.
However, long before Damien won his title in Lumpinee and at the time of this writing, defended it, Damien was already proving to be a formidable Muay Thai talent in Thailand’s extremely competitive and demanding Muay Thai circuit. But how did a 21 year old French kid from Bordeaux become Thailand’s current falang sensation?
Damien himself has expressed that much of his success is due to the incredible support he gets from his family. When I began my research for an article about Damien, I discovered that although Damien is French, his family is originally from Chile. Being Hispanic myself, I was very intrigued by this fact as Damien’s success was now not only a historic achievement for the French but also for Hispanics every where. When I asked Damien’s father, Hugo Alamos, about his son’s relationship with Chile, his answer was simple, “Damien was born in Bourdeaux, but he is Chilean at heart!”
Damien’s family is originally from Puente Alto, Chile, a city of roughly half a million inhabitants that has now slowly been absorbed by the growing Santiago (Chile’s capital) metropolitan area. In 1981, at the age of 11, Damien’s father Hugo left Chile with his mother, father, brother (Damien’s uncle Rodrigo), and sister. The move to France was decided because Hugo’s aunt was living in France. Hugo states that his mother (Damien’s grandmother) wanted to be closer to her sister and the family felt that there were better opportunities in France.
The Alamos’ family history in Muay Thai began when Hugo’s younger brother, Rodrigo Alamos, enlisted in the French Military and began taking Muay Thai classes at the military base in Merignac (outside Bourdeaux). Rodrigo never looked back and eventually became a Muay Thai instructor later moving on to become coach of the French National Muay Thai team. He fought professionally but was never able to truly carry out his dreams as a nakmuay due to some health issues. Later on, Rodrigo became the manager of his own Muay Thai gym, Impact Aquitaine in Bourdeaux, where Damien now trains anytime he is in France.
From very early on, young Damien was surrounded by Muay Thai but his training career did not begin until he was 8 and began learning the French fighting style of Savate. 2 years later, at the young age of 10, Damien began training Muay Thai. It doesn’t take Damien long to get bitten by the fighting bug, having his first professional Muay Thai fight in Koh Samui, Thailand at the age of 14. Upon returning to France, because of his age, he is still required to fight in semi-professional bouts with protective padding. He continues fighting semi-professionally until he is 17, but throughout his young career he occasionally traveled abroad to fight in full on Muay Thai bouts.
According to Damien’s father Hugo, Damien began travelling regularly to Thailand after his first professional bout in Koh Samui. He sampled a variety of camps such as Buakaw’s former camp, Por Pramuk Gym and other well known gyms such as Jocky Gym, Lukbarnyai, Baan Muay Thai, and Somrak Gym (then camp of Thai legend Somrak Khamsing).
In 2009, at the age of 18 and having already achieved great success in France winning a national Muay Thai title, Damien decided to make the move to Thailand for good. According to Damien’s father Hugo, Damien wanted to enter into the traditional Muay Thai circuit in Thailand, fight his way up the ranks like all Thais do, and hopefully, one day get the opportunity to fight for a stadium title. In Thailand, Damien decides to live on the island of Phuket. He rents a small home on Patong Beach, roughly 3 miles from Singpatong Sitnumnoi, his current gym.
Damien enjoys the hard and no frills intensity with which the fighters at Singpatong train and immediately begins finding success with the gym. In 2010 and at the age of 19, Damien picks up 2 WPMF titles: a WPMF world title win over Iran’s Abass Ahmadi and a WPMF European title he earned after defeating Spain’s Niko Barbera Rocamora. Due to the positive results attained during his time training at Singpatong Sitnumnoi, the gym becomes Damien’s permanent training facility as he feels that the gym has brought him nothing but success. And as if Damien’s successes weren’t enough for the small gym, Singpatong Sitnumnoi is currently home to two other very strong Muay Thai champions in the form of current Lumpinee Stadium 126 lb. champion Pen-Ake Sitnumnoi and Lumpinee and Channel 7 Stadium 112 lb. champion Pentai Sitnumnoi.
With training partners such as these and under the guidance of head trainers Somsak and Num Noi as well as the rest of the gyms training staff, it would only be a matter of time before Damien would put a definitive stamp on the national Muay Thai circuit. In late 2011 and early 2012, after notable wins over ranked Thai opponents Aphisak KT, Dejsuriya Pumphanmuang, Desellek Aodonmuang, Farmongkon Kor Chaiprayom, and more at notable Muay Thai venues such as Omnoi and Channel 7 stadium, Damien earns himself the fight of his dreams: a shot at the 140 lbs. Lumpinee Title.
The young Damien Alamos, with the support of his uncle Rodrigo, father Hugo, family, his girlfriend Yim, friends, training partners, and gym prepared for the fight of his life. After all, other “falang” legends in the sport such as Ramon Dekkers, Farid Villaume, Kamel Jemel, and many more had also fought for a Lumpinee title and came up short. Damien Alamos, the young Frenchman of Chilean descent who made his life in Thailand training and selling Muay Thai gear at his own shop in Phuket, would now be the next foreign fighter to get a shot at glory in Thailand’s legendary stadium. But hopefully, where other legends tried and unfortunately came up wanting, Damien would come out on top.
Damien’s opponent would be Kongfah Auddormueng, the same fighter who defeated Damien’s countrymen Kemal Jemal, when Jemal was given a shot at the Lumpinee title in 2010. In what was a vicious back and forth battle between two formidable Muay Thai warriors, Damien showcased the skill that had lead him to this historic moment. Damien, truly takes on the role of challenger and begins to push forward on the resilient Kongfah. In the third round, Damien lands his now infamous vicious left hook. The same left hook that had floored Phetsanguan Sitniwath at Bangla Stadium in Phuket earlier in the year, earning Damien this title shot. Kongfah, unlike Phetsanguan, rises up and continues to fight on. Resilient, strong, undeterred, the Thai does not back down and the fight goes the distance. The crowd waits for the results and both Kongfah and Damien’s stomachs churn in anticipation. The decision is read, history is made, Damien Alamos is the new Lumpinee 140 lb. champion.
When I sent Damien my interview after his title victory at Lumpinee, my first question was obvious; “How did it feel to win a Lumpinee title?” Like any young man just two years removed from being a teenager might say, Damien’s answer was common, “I felt like a young child that just got the toy he always wanted! I am happy for all western nakmuays because I proved that with hard work you can achieve victory!” Hugo, Damien’s father told me that his son was a simple and humble person, that money mattered little to him and that he was dedicated to pursuing his dream of competing in the top levels of Muay Thai, that he has sacrificed so much time away from home and his family to follow his dreams. Hugo also made sure to credit his brother Rodrigo (Damien’s uncle) for all of his help, because without him Damien would have never been able to achieve what no other foreign nakmuay has been able to achieve. Adding to that statement Damien pointed out that maintaining contact with his family in France was very important for keeping him balanced but that he loves Thailand and Muay Thai is his life.
I asked Damien, how he felt about the idea that he was not only representing France but that for many of his Hispanic fans he was representing all Latinos. “I am loyal to my Latin blood and heritage, happy to represent Chile, and hope that I can visit Chile one day soon”, Damien said. I also wanted to know what Damien’s plans were after the Lumpinee title and whether or not he wanted to compete abroad and possibly in the U.S where the sport continues to grow. He told me that, “right now my goals are to compete in both Thailand and abroad, I am open to any offer from any promoter!” To end the interview, I asked Damien what his favorite Muay Thai weapon was, obviously I was intrigued because his now infamous left hook has lead him to many important victories. “I consider myself a Muay Fimeu, which is a term used to describe a Muay Thai fighter that has high level technique and class. I love all Muay Thai weapons and try to use all of them when I fight but elbows and knees are the trademark of the Alamos family!”
After speaking with Damien and his father, I was reminded of a phrase that is used quite a bit in the Muay Thai and Martial Arts community, “The family that fights together, stays together.” The Alamos’ are truly a family that supports each other on the road to Muay Thai greatness. Damien’s younger brother Mike also fights Muay Thai and has enjoyed success in Thailand. And speaking to Hugo Alamos it was easy to tell that he was a happy and proud father of two incredible Muay Thai warriors who is willing to sacrifice it all to see both of them succeed in the sport. For many parents, a life dedicated to nothing but fighting would probably not be what they had in mind when thinking of their children’s future. But when your child’s life is surrounded by Muay Thai from the age of 8 and your brother is a world class Muay Thai trainer, it’s not to far fetched to think that with hard work and sacrifice, building a world champion is possible.
With Damien’s recent successful title defense, he sits alone as the only foreign fighter to have won and DEFENDED his Lumpinee title. I can’t event imagine how Damien’s father Hugo, his uncle Rodrigo, his brother Mike, and his friends and training partners at Sitnumnoi felt on the night he won the Lumpinee title, let alone when he defended it this past weekend. But for me, as both a foreigner and hispanic who loves and trains Muay Thai, Damien and the Alamos family are definitely inspiring. As a fan of Damien and someone who notices small, possibly insignificant coincidences, I realized that Chile, France, and Thailand, all nations with which Damien shares a connection, have red, white, and blue as their national colors. All three nations have brought him good fortune. So perhaps one day soon we can see Damien in the U.S. competing on American soil and helping Muay Thai further grow in the U.S. With his historic Lumpinee win and subsequent title defense, Damien didn’t just make himself a force to be reckoned with in Thailand, he also put the world on notice.