Stephen Strotmeyer

Episode 92 – Knights of the Round Table

This is it! One of our biggest podcasts to date!

Recorded at the 2019 TBA Classic Muay Thai World Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, Vinny and Eric sit down with a few of the top coaches in the US; Bryan Dobler of Double Dose Muay Thai, Bryan Popejoy of Boxing Works, Danny Brandt of Dan’s Gym, Pete Peterson of the TBA and Roundkick Gym, Stephen Strotmeyer of Pittsburgh Muay Thai, Patrick Rivera of Valor Training Center, Sean Madden of Easton Training Center, and last but not least USMF President, Michael “Chase” Corley of Heritage Muay Thai.

It was a late night round table discussion with some of the top Muay Thai minds in America after a long day of Muay Thai fights. We go all in on the growth of Muay Thai in America…somewhat unfiltered. Enjoy!

United States Muaythai Federation (USMF) – 2nd OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

As previously announced in our recent press release, the United States Muaythai Federation (USMF) will be partnering with the country’s major Muaythai tournaments as sanctioned by the World Kickboxing Association (WKA), the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) and the Thai Boxing Association Sanctioning Authority (TBA-SA). As partners, we will delegate the strongest team for competition at the 2017 International Federation Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) tournament which will be held beginning on May 1, 2017 (Location to be announced).

WKA LogoIKF LogoTBA Logo
Working in conjunction with the major self-governing sanctioning bodies (note: the USMF is NOT a sanctioning body) to build a battle-tested team establishes an excellent precedent as has been the goal of any true federation. The respected groups have an excellent history in running their annual campaigns, all of them continuously crown high-caliber champions – capable of performing well for the US in the IFMA tournament.

• WKA-USA: US National Championships and Team Trials. May 19-22, (New York, NY)
http://www.wkausa.com/wkanationals2016.html
• TBA-SA: 10th annual Muay Thai Classic. June 17-19th (Des Moines Iowa)
http://www.tbasanctioning.org/2016MTC/2016MTCInfo.htm
• IKF: World Classic Muay Thai Championships. July 22-24 (Orlando, FL)
http://www.ikfkickboxing.com/WC16.htm

By hosting the unifying tournament, the USMF would extend exclusive invitations to the tournament champions for the opportunity to compete for a spot on the IFMA roster. This yields a process to give everyone, regardless of region within the US, an equal opportunity to earn a prestigious spot on the team by participating and winning in any of those tournaments.

For all athletes reading this, the USMF in partnership with the IKF, TBA and WKA will be the platform that enables your career to advance internationally!

United States Muaythai Federation (USMF) – OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

For years, we have all asked the same question: Can the USA be a global Muaythai powerhouse?

For all of us at the United States Muaythai Federation (USMF), the answer is of course a resounding “YES”! Coming off the recent successes at the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) 2015 Royal World Cup in Bangkok the USA had 1 gold medalist (Troy Jones) and 2 bronze (Joseph Espinoza, Jonathan Cosio). We had a strong team that was recognized among the 120 different competing countries. Due to this success, the USMF has one simple challenge ahead and that is simply to produce more medalists and showcase that US Muaythai has indeed become an opponent that can no longer be overlooked. As the sole IFMA representative, the USMF has the responsibility to promote Muaythai in order for it to achieve the highest recognition in the United States.11035735_916553165085012_6032190722544394624_n

A recently restructured Board of Directors with voting privileges has been appointed by USMF President, Cheryl Garcia. Ms. Garcia has selected seasoned and trusted Muaythai leaders from across the USA with the depth of knowledge, experience, passion, and ambition to develop and grow the sport of Muaythai in the USA.

The Board of Directors is comprised of:

Ricardo Perez – Head Coach of Team Toro Janjira Muay Thai in Chicago, IL

Stephen Strotmeyer Head Coach at Kaay Muay Sit Kangmangkorn in Pittsburgh, PA.

Marcy Maxwell – Event Management for Arise Fighting Championships – Manager of Woodenman Fight Team

Derek Yuen – Coach at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA.

Anucha Chaiyasen (aka Jongsanan) – One of Thailand’s Muay Thai legends.  A veteran of over 126 fights.

Eric Rivera – President and Host of The Striking Corner Website & Podcast. 12+ years of Muay Thai experience.

Michael Corley – Owner & Head Coach of Houston Muay Thai.  Over 25+ Professional Muay Thai Fights

Kirian Fitzgibbons – Owner & Head Coach at CSA Gym in Dublin, CA. One of the premier gyms in the U.S.

Dmitriy Shirganov – Vice President of Muay Thai Addict & Head Instructor at Legend Muay Thai in Florida

Cheryl Garcia – USMF President.

One of the board’s most recent accomplishments was to officially file with the Secretary of the State of Texas and receive a Certificate of Formation for the USMF as a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation. Texas approved that the USMF conforms to the applicable provisions of law, and ACCORDINGLY issued certificate evidence filings effective February 2016 (File Number: 802388432). Also, as of today (March 24th, 2016) the IRS has officially approved the USMF as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit.

USMF-1The 2016 USMF Team USA athletes have been selected to compete at the IFMA World Championship this coming May in Sweden, and selections are currently underway for the junior team that will compete this September in Thailand. Stay tuned for more information and fundraising efforts to support USMF’s Team USA 2016. For all athletes reading this, we will be the platform that enables your career to advance internationally. We want you to realize your potential and will help you break from what was once described as:

“The United States’ comparative isolation from international competition.” – Muay Thaimes

We have proposed a new way to select the team that represents our country in battle which will give everyone, regardless of region within the U.S., an equal opportunity to earn a spot on the team. By proposing a unified Muaythai champion in the US under one banner, we believe our best fight team for the IFMAs is yet to come. We believe that a unified initiative will see the USA emerge as a true threat to international completion at the amateur level.

Research Study on Muay Thai Judging by Tony Myers, Stephen Strotmeyer, et al.

by Stephen Strotmeyer

Who do you think wins this fight?

The fight game has been littered with controversial decisions that have left fans outraged and bewildered by the judges’ call. From the outrageous Roy Jones vs. Park Si-Hun in the 1988 Olympics, through the richly disputed Hagler vs. Leonard battle, to more recent MMA controversies such as Galvao vs. Warren or Machida vs. Rua I. Muay Thai is no exception with some hotly disputed decisions across the globe.

We would like you and other fight fans to help us discover what makes fight decisions fair or totally outrageous. If you would like to help us your participation will take approximately 16 minutes in total and involve you watching a 15 minute video of a Muay Thai match. After watching the match, you will be asked who you think won the match and, when you are given the actual decision, rate how fair you think the decision was. To give us your opinion of who wins and what you think of the decision click on the link below.

CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE!

(The study is being conducted by Dr. Tony Myers & Mohammed Rehman- Newman University, UK. Dr Nigel Balmer -University College London, UK, and Stephen Strotmeyer – University of Pittsburgh, USA)

Your thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Muay Thai is Life speaks with Pittsburgh Muay Thai’s Stephen Strotmeyer about Muay Thai scoring, rules, & more

Kru Stephen Strotmeyer is the head instructor at Khaay Muay Sit-Kangmongkorn a.k.a. Pittsburgh Muay Thai. With about 27 fights both in Thailand and the US, his fight career was unfortunately cut short by illness. However, a true Muay Thai enthusiast, Stephen continued (and continues) to give back to the sport he loves. Having been on the 2004 U.S. Muay Thai team at the IFMA World Championships in Bangkok, Stephen later helped coach the 2007 U.S. Muay Thai team. Stephen, has also coached standout fighters such as Mark Deluca, Marcus Fisher, Ben Case, and more.

strotmeyer2Recently, Stephen was part of an advisory committee that included Samasek Kanthawong, Coban Lookchaomaesaitong, Tony Myers, Siraphop Ratanasuban,Jr., and Kaensak Sor Ploenchit. The committee was setup to assist the New Jersey State Athletic Comission (NJSAC) devise a set of Unified Muay Thai Rules which would hopefully become the standard for Muay Thai scoring in the U.S. Stephen recently took time to speak with Muay Thai is Life about the Unified Muay Thai Rules, Muay Thai scoring in the U.S., and the state of the sport in the U.S. as a whole. This is truly a great interview with one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the U.S. Muay Thai scene.

MTL: Thank you Stephen, for speaking with Muay Thai is Life. You were on the advisory panel put together by the NJSAC to develop a set of Unified Muay Thai Rules. There has been a lot of controversy in the U.S. about Muay Thai fights not being scored correctly, in your opinion what has been the cause of this and what was the ultimate goal of the commission in putting together these Unified Rules?

Stephen: The goal of the commission was to establish a consistent set of Muaythai rules that would be used across North America, ideally. Nick Lembo was a major proponent for this, and was also instrumental in establishing the unified MMA rules. The goal would be that all 50 states, Canada and Mexico would adopt the ABC unified Muaythai rules and anywhere you fight in North America would have a common ruleset.

Regarding Muaythai fights not being scored correctly, it’s simply seating unqualified judges. They lack a fundamental understanding of the true scoring guidelines, or are biased judges, whether for local fighters, or they are biased in interpretation of what scores, and that bias is often blatantly wrong. Many of the athletic commissions and sanctioning bodies lack a clear understanding of scoring Muaythai. This leads to decisions like Cosmo v. Sakmongkol or Howson v. Adanza where the clear winner was absolutely robbed of the proper decision.

MTL: In a few words, what are the key points in the Unified Muay Thai Rules that will differentiate it from the way you feel Muay Thai is currently being scored in the U.S.?

Stephen: The rules themselves, in my opinion, will only establish consistency when fighting. That is a critical step though for fighters to know they will fight in say, NJ and NY under the same rules. Currently, you will fight Muaythai in NJ, then a month later fight a kickboxing, or modified fight in NY and have to adjust training. Fighting Muaythai means using 8 limbs, not 6. Fighting with elbows is a totally different sport.

The scoring is what needs a massive educational overhaul. You see Muaythai in CA and NV being sanctioned by reputable sanctioning bodies, but then having serious deficiencies leading to high profile fight outcomes that are baffling. Having the rules in place is a fantastic, but substandard judging is another animal entirely.

MTL: Now that the Unified Muay Thai rules have been established, some say the next step and perhaps the most difficult is to get commissions and promotions across the U.S. to adapt to the rules. Do you agree?

Stephen: I hope they do, and to be honest, I’m not sure how the voting, or choosing to adopt the rules works as a process, as I was on the advisory committee, but not an ABC member. That would be a great followup series of questions for Nick Lembo who chaired our committee.

MTL: In simple terms, what is the main difference between Muay Thai scoring and the scoring for sports such as K-1 or Kickboxing?

Stephen: I don’t have training in Kickboxing or K-1 scoring so cannot truly attest to the differences. I have a bias when watching K-1 from my Muaythai officiating training. For example, a few years back, Souwer fought Yod, and I thought Yod took it comfortably, but the shocking result was a points win for Souwer. How? K-1 criteria are NOT the same, and I watched the fight with an inherent and intuitive bias. Unless I was trained to score a K-1 bout, I’m applying erroneous criteria.

But, the fundamental points I try to stress at my camp, to many others I have working relationships with is that Muaythai is about position and effect for the entirety of the fight. The fighter that moves and forces his opponent to lose position, be off-balanced as a result of landing effective strikes, while maintainingg balance and composure throughout all 5 rounds is the stronger fighter, hence, winner.

MTL: Being a proponent of preserving traditional Muay Thai, does it bother you that commissions such as the California State Athletic Commission have banned the use of prajouds and Thai liniment, and have had fighters shorten the Wai Kru?

Stephen: As a purist steeped in tradition, YES. However, there are times when shortening from a ram muay to wai kru could be necessary for streaming, TV, etc. I bet you watched that Jamaica show a few years back on PPV…and probably screamed at the telly to get the fashion show over and onto the fights, right? To the general fight fan, you might get a similar response about the music, the ceremony and they want to just see a fight. We could argue we don’t want that element, we want the educated fan, but the sport needs more interest to grow. Limiting it to pure Muaythai as if we were in Thailand with 30+ minutes of ram muay time on a card and alienating a larger, more common audience that expands beyond those who train Muaythai or have a friend or family member who does is not going to provide enough of a base to grow. Regarding liniment, prajiads, and the mongkong, I see nothing there that should be banned and don’t understand the logic behind that.

MTL: Some have argued that fighters should change their styles to “finish fights” as they believe Americans want to see KO’s, do you feel that the traditional Muay Thai and the manner in which Muay Thai is traditionally scored does not appeal to the U.S. fight mentality?

Stephen: That’s a ridiculously simplistic opinion without merit. Traditional Muaythai does appeal to Americans but the reason for it being a fringe combat sport to boxing or MMA isn’t because the KO rate is low, it’s because there are only niche markets for it – NY, NJ, CA, NV have a Muaythai subculture that supports the sport, but again, it’s mostly catering to itself. A heightened awareness and elevated profile is crucial. Shows like the Contender, Challenger, MPL, streaming on GFL, etc. can really help do this. Additionally, aside from educating the officials, the fans that are unfamiliar to scoring would probably benefit from insights into how Muaythai differs from K-1, etc.

MTL: If the way Americans score Muay Thai doesn’t change do you feel the sport will grow here in America? And if it does grow with those rules, do you think we would even be able to label it as “Muay Thai”?

If you consciously decide to change the scoring to meet the putative demands of the supporters how can pandering like this not be considered selling out the sport? If you ignore proper scoring, but adopt proper rules and call it Muaythai, that’s shameful. Either do it right or don’t and call it kickboxing.

MTL: Thank you for taking time to speak with us Stephen and answer a lot of the tough questions the supporters of traditional Muay Thai have wanted answers to

For another very informative interview with Stephen which focuses more on his career as a fighter and coach, take a look at this great interview by Matt Lucas.

For more Muay Thai news keep checking back here at Muay Thai is Life. Also be be sure to like our Official Facebook Page and/or follow us on Twitter @muaythaiislife