Lion Fight Promotions

Simon Marcus Phone Interview with Muay Thai is Life! Marcus talks about his big bout with Joe Schilling at “Battle at the Desert 5” on January 25th!

If you haven’t heard all of the back and forth trash talking going on between American Muay Thai buzzsaw Joe Schilling and Canadian “Bad Bwoy” Simon Marcus in the lead up to their much anticipated clash on February 25th in Las Vegas, then I have to wonder what you are even doing calling yourself a Muay Thai fan. These two guys have gone out full force to rile each other up, even going as far as putting their full fight purses on the line in an effort to make this fight even more attractive to the fans. It is a definite winner takes all bout where the victor not only takes the win, the bragging rights, and the respect, but also walks away with all the dough. While some people may not be the biggest fans of trash talking and feel that Muay Thai in the U.S. should emulate the respect and camaraderie shown in Thailand, there are others who see nothing wrong with a little back and forth banter before the fight in order to make things a little more interesting.

In my opinion, both of these guys have kept things relatively civil. And as Simon Marcus will tell you in MTiL’s exclusive phone interview with him about the fight, it’s really all about two stand up guys feeling confident enough in their abilities to lay it all out in the ring. Neither Joe or Simon are taking this fight lightly and they both realize that the next possible step after this very important bout could be a shot at the man with the belt and the title of WBC World Champion, Artem “The Lion” Levin. I would say we should expect to see fireworks on Feb. 25th in Las Vegas but that would be an understatement. When both of these titans collide at Lion Fight Promotions’ “Battle in the Desert 5” expect that those in attendance will gasp so violently in excitement during the bout, that the arena will become a black hole like vacuum that will cause Las Vegas and the entire state of Nevada to collapse unto itself. I for one am so excited for this bout that my heart may not be able to withstand the sheer awesomeness of it. So if on February 26th, you hear that Eric Rivera from Muay Thai is Life is no longer with us, than you can be sure the cause was “death by an overdose of Muay Thai badassery”

Below is our exclusive interview with Simon!

TSC presents “Profiles in American Muay Thai” Vol. 6 – Lion Fight Promotions

The Building of Lion Fight Promotions by Galen Okazaki

The year 2011 is now generally recognized as the biggest year in American Muay Thai to date. The quality of the shows and the talent on display (both US and International) were unprecedented. Much of the success of 2011 can be attributed to the meteoric rise of the newly launched Las Vegas based Muay Thai fight promoter, Lion Fight Promotions. With their four headline events last year they were able showcase many of the top American fighters as well as a number of highly ranked international fighters. Now at their new venue, The Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, with their stacked February 25th (2012) fight card headlined by a Joe Schilling vs Simon Marcus main event, they are continuing their upward momentum into this year. From my years of corporate experience, I know that success stories like these are not simply a result of luck, they require hard work and most importantly a vision. I sat down with Scott Kent, the President and CEO of Lion Fight Promotions to find out more about how together with former professional Muay Thai fighter, Christine Toledo, they were able to make this vision come true.

Scott Kent has been a long time business executive in Las Vegas. He has also trained in Muay Thai (both here and in Thailand) for a number of years and he has developed a great passion for it. In the late 2000’s he was doing some consulting work for a hotel, booking boxing and Muay Thai events. During this time, he met Christine Toledo while officiating at an amateur Muay Thai event. Christine had been training and fighting out of the Las Vegas area for a few years at that point.

Soon the hotel had been working with, asked Scott if he could get his promoter’s license so they could work with him directly. Scott jumped at the opportunity and he also knew that he wanted to partner with someone who was knowledgeable and well networked within the Muay Thai community. He talked to Christine about the opportunity to build a Muay Thai promotion and quickly brought her on board. As the two set out to build their promotion, they wanted to ensure that they always had what was best for Muay Thai and its growth as their mission. In an effort to ensure this, they took the unprecedented step of soliciting the opinions of fighters to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they need and what would they like to see from a fight promotion. From these discussions, they learned that many fighters felt that a promoter who had some business sense and a plan was very much needed to help the sport grow. In addition, the promoter needed to have the right connections to help market and create venues. In their view, the sport had been in a holding pattern for a number of years in terms of growth and the right person with the right connections was needed to help it grow.

They also heard that fighters would like to know when and where they’re next fight would be. The inconsistency of fights was hindering the development of many of the fighters. Based on this, Scott and Christine set out to build a ‘home base’ for US Muay Thai fighters. They felt that being in Las Vegas was a huge advantage in that it was already recognized as the ‘Fight Capital’ of the world and they would be able to work with the respected Las Vegas State Athletic Commission (take that CSAC!).

This has indeed proven successful as Scott points to Chaz Mulkey’s 2011 season. Chaz had been one of the fighters to speak to Scott and Christine and he told them he wanted to fight the highest level of fighters, preferably international ones. Since then, Mulkey’s career has taken off with his 4-0 record last year (all Lion Fight Promotions events), which included victories over highly regarded international opponents Ken Tran(Canada), Remy Bonnell(France) and Simon Chu(England). Scott attributes some part of Chaz’s success to his ability to know well in advance where and when his next fight will be. Read More

MTiL interviews Joe Schilling about his bout with Simon Marcus – Training Pictures – Battle in the Desert Fight Card!

So much has been said already about Lion Fight Promotions upcoming “Battle in the Desert “5 event on February 25th, that as a newly coined “Muay Thai Journalist”, I have found it difficult to conjure up anything new and exciting to bring to the masses that hasn’t otherwise already been said somewhere on the “internetz”. And just whenIi thought I was fresh out of new ideas, MTiL’s intrepid West Coast director, Galen Okazaki calls me up and tells me that he is heading to The Yard in Los Angeles to snap a couple of training pictures of Joe “Stich’Em Up” Schilling and do a short interview with him. My reaction to such news can best be described by using Charlie “Tiger Blood” Sheen’s now iconic phrase: “Winning!”

So with all that said, below you will find our most recent interview with Joe Schilling as he discusses his upcoming fight with Canada’s Simon Marcus and responds to some of the things Marcus said in his interview with Greg Boasberg at Totalmuaythai.com

Needless to say, as our good friend and contributor John Wolcott indicated on our MTiL Facebook Page (Like Us!)that “if you guys aren’t excited about this fight, you might not have a pulse!”. Well said, John, well said.

Echoing, John’s sentiments, this truly is going to be, not only one of the biggest and most anticipated bouts this year, but the entire card of Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 5” is going to be, up until now, the year’s best card. And being that we are only in February, that is a good sign of things to come for the U.S. Muay Thai Community in 2012!

Here is the full pro fight card for Battle in the Desert 5:
Joe Schilling vs. Simon Marcus
Chaz Mulkey vs. Gregory Choplin
Coke Chunhawat vs. Matt Embree
Jose Palacios vs. Shane Oblonsky
Vivian Leung vs. Tiffany Van Soest
Scotty Leffler vs. Sheldon Gaines
Anthony Castrejon vs. Francisco Barragan

And now without further ado Mr. Joe Schilling:

Pictures of Joe Schilling training for his upcoming bout with Simon Marcus – Photos by Galen Okazaki

 

PHOTOS – Battle in the Desert 4 by Galen Okazaki

Muay Thai is Life and West Coast Muay Thai photographer Galen Okazaki was once again ringside to capture all the action of Lion Fight Promotions’ “Battle in the Desert 4”. Check out the photos below!

TSC presents “Profiles in American Muaythai” Vol. 4 – Rami Ibrahim

by Galen Okazaki

On November 19th, 2011 at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas NV, Rami Ibrahim will be stepping into the ring onto the biggest stage of his life as he takes on the formidable Coke Chunawhat for the WBC Muay Thai US National Lightweight title at Lion Fight Promotions “Battle in the Desert 4”. For Rami it has been challenging journey over time and space to get to this point.

Rami Ibrahim was born in Kuwait in May of 1982, but he is originally of Palestinian descent. At age eight, while he was visiting his older brothers here in the United States in 1990, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq. Stranded here in the United States with his 5 older brothers and his mother, they anxiously awaited their father’s arrival from the now occupied Kuwait. One week later he made his way to America, but the family had lost everything they owned in the process. They now faced rebuilding their lives from scratch in a new country.

Much to their credit, Rami’s parents and older siblings did as much as they could do to shield him from the stresses of rebuilding their lives. He still suffered though. Being a new kid, from a different country who didn’t speak the language was all the reason classmates and neighbors needed to pick on him. Seeing this, Rami’s oldest brother, Rafat, became very concerned and made Rami an offer. He would send Rami to karate classes for six months but if Rami was confronted after that, if he didn’t break the arm of whomever attacked him his brother promised to break Rami’s arm himself.

Rami took his brother’s threat very seriously and applied himself to the karate training. In a short amount of time he found that he liked the training very much. Within the six months of training he came to the gym so often, he was eventually given his own key. As fate (or luck) would have it, shortly after completing his six months of training, Rami was confronted by six neighborhood boys. Within less than a minute he laid out all six of them. As he did this a wave of panic rushed over him and he ran all the way home. As he made his way to the front lawn, Rafat just happened to be standing there. Seeing Rami running and out of breath Rafat asked him if he had gotten beat up again, Rami was happy to report that he indeed used his training to defend himself. Rami kept his arm intact and he was never picked on again.

Rami continued to train karate under Dosinam Greg Purefoy. As he began competing in karate tournaments, Ibrahim struggled with the controlling the force with which he struck opponents (in competition karate, opponents do not strike each other full force). Seeing this, Purefoy recommended that Rami take up Muay Thai, it was a perfect match. Over the next few years, Rami was able to train with Thai legends Coban Lookchaomaesaitong and Vut Kamnark. Together they were laying the seeds for the growth of Muay Thai on the East coast.

Rami went on to have well over 100 amateur Muay Thai fights. In the late 1990’s he took some non-sanctioned full rules matches as well. In 2000, Rami fought a fighter from Sitan gym in New York who was training under Ajarn Aziz Nabih at his Sitan Gym in New York. After Ibrahim defeated Aziz’s fighter, both the fighter and Aziz approached him and asked him if he would be willing to train under Aziz. Rami said yes and he has been training under Aziz ever since.

Of all of the fights that Ibrahim has had, one stands out the most. In 2001 he fought Shennen Maceo for the WKA US Muay Thai Title. The fight went the distance and was called a draw. Ibrahim however thought he clearly won this fight. He got his chance for a rematch in 2003 again for a belt, this time the USKBA World Title. Again Rami thought he won the fight, but ended up losing a decision. Finally in 2008, when Chuck Norris formed his World Combat League, Ibrahim agreed to fight for the New York team when he realized that it would ensure him a rematch with Maceo who was fighting for the New Jersey team. Minutes before the fight he called Aziz (who couldn’t be there) and told him he would call him back within five minutes to let him know how he did. He kept his promise as he called Aziz within minutes to let him know that he had knocked out Maceo with a head kick just minutes into the first round.

This past season has been an active one for Rami. On January 12th while training in Thailand he fought the much larger Thai, Tiger Sua Kaewsamrit to a draw. In March he had a very tough fight with Matt Embree in the highly regarded Canadian based Journey Series 8 man tournament. He ended up losing the fight in a decision while Embree went on to defeat Coke Chunawhat in the next round and eventually win the tourney after defeating Josh Palmer. In July, Ibrahim took on Mark Deluca at the Warriors Cup XII event in New Jersey. In a fight that went the distance, Rami ended up taking the unanimous decision. Then in September, Rami successfully defended his WKA 132lbs North American title for the fourth time with a decision victory against Tristar Gym’s Philippe Allaire Landreville at Take-On Productions “September Showdown”.

Ibrahim has always been very active as a fighter. While his professional record stands at 16-5-2 his amateur record was 116-13-2. That’s over 150 fights for someone who has yet to turn thirty. Part of this heavy activity comes from his proficiency in many different martial arts. Rami is highly skilled in many other martial arts including freestyle Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. In addition his World Kickboxing Association (WKA) United States Muay Thai Championship he has won the (USKBA) International Muay Thai Championship, he’s a professional boxer and he was the Philadelphia All-Public Wrestling Champion his senior year in high school. Muay Thai though is his first love.

Not only a fighter, Rami also runs the highly regarded Sitan Gym in Philadelphia which he opened in 2007 and he is a full-time school teacher. A typical day for Rami includes teaching grade school, the normal business of running a large gym plus the teaching many of the classes in his gym (currently four) all before doing his own fight training. Admittedly, this is a far from optimal life for a fighter to have but to Rami Ibrahim, his life is all about giving it back, especially to the kids. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Muay Thai is experiencing an upsurge in popularity throughout the United States and Ibrahim will tell you that Philadelphia is no different. His classes are fuller and students are starting much younger. Rami is committed to helping the sport grow. He knows firsthand what learning martial arts the right way can do for a youngster growing up in Philadelphia… wonder where those six childhood bullies are today?

Author’s Note: As many of you know I run West Coast Muay Thai in addition to my work here at Muay Thai is Life. Being West coast based I know that while a number of fans out here have heard of Rami Ibrahim, few know much about him. I hope that through your reading of this article those of you on the West coast find him to be the wonderfully intriguing person that I have found him to be. If you watch his fights on Youtube, you’ll find him to be a fierce competitor as well and I am looking forward to seeing him fight for the first time in person at Battle in the Desert 4. He is a great representative for the sport of Muay Thai both in and out of the ring. Let’s show him some West Coast love! —Galen

TSC presents “Profiles in American Muay Thai” Vol. 3 – Chaz Mulkey

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. Read More