Naruepol Fairtex is best known for an appearance on the original season of The Contender Asia but he is also a former Lumpini and Rajadamnern and Thailand champion who has fought all over the world and won more Muay Thai titles than he can remember.
He is the latest in a long line of Lumpini title holders to join the team at Evolve MMA which is home to a more decorated team of trainers than any other camp on the planet and Naruepol has already started studying mixed martial arts with a view to potentially making his professional debut.
Although he is now 28 years old Naruepol still competes regularly and in recent years he has fought in France, China, Italy and Malaysia and was scheduled to fight against Andy Souwer in Singapore in February but the fight was cancelled at the last minute due to some promotional irregularities.
He has faced a who's who of world class opponents, both domestically and on the international scene, including Marco Piqué, Cosmo Alexandre, Cedric Muller, Soren Monkongtong, Yohan Lidon, Giorgio Petrosyan and Vuyisile Colossa as well as Yodsaenklai Fairtex, Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn, Noppadet Chengsimiw Gym and Chokdee Por Pramuk.
Naruepol caught up with Liver Kick to discuss the move to Singapore, his Muay Thai career and the possibility of making his MMA debut.
Who did you win your Lumpini title against and when?
It was the Lumpini 140 lbs title against Chokdee Por. Pramuk, it was either in 2002 or 2003, I'm not sure exactly.
What other belts have you won and if possible can you remember who you won them against and where?
I won the Lumpinee Stadium belt and the Thailand belt at 140 lbs against Pethnamek Sor. Siriwat at Lumpini, the 140 lbs Thailand belt against Kunseuk Pethsuphaphan at Lumpini, the Thailand belt at 147 lbs against Chaowilit Jocky Gym at Rachdamnern and some other belts which I didn't keep track of
What sort of style fighter are you?
I love kicks and knees, I like to use technical Muay Thai
When did you start Muay Thai and why?
I started in 1992 when I was 7 years old because my house was near a Muay Thai camp. I saw it every day and I liked it.
When did you have your first fight?
I had my first professional fight after 6 months of training, I was 7 years old.
Why did you decide to move to Singapore to join Evolve MMA?
Evolve MMA has a very big name in Thailand now in the Muay Thai community and my good friend Attachai Fairtex told me how well Evolve treats its instructors and staff, Attachai has been able to provide for his family in Thailand with a very good life. When Saknaraong Sityodtong called me I accepted immediately because I have two sons and I want a better future for them.
How does it compare to the places you have trained in Thailand?
It is the best facility that I have ever seen. You cannot compare it to camps in Thailand because Evolve has the best of everything, the best trainers, the best facilities and some of the best fighters.
Have you ever fought against any of the other Thai trainers at Evolve MMA in the past?
Chaowolit Jocky Gym at Rachdamnern, Namsaknoi Yuthagarnkamtorn at both Channel 7 Stadium and Lumpini Stadium.
Are you familiar with MMA and if so what do you think of it?
Not before coming to Evolve but I like it. It seems very exciting, but it looks quite difficult too.
Would you be interested in competing in MMA?
Yes, I would like to try it. I am training hard for it already at Evolve.
Are you surprised that Muay Thai has become so popular with 'farang'?
Yes I am surprised but it is a beautiful art so I understand why everyone loves Muay Thai.
Who is the toughest fighter you have ever faced?
Thopadak Wanchalerm (aka Sinbi Taewoong).
What is your favourite memory from your fighting career?
Every victory was a happy moment for me. The most special was my first title when I won Lumpini Stadium title because I was just a teenager. I was very nervous but I believed in myself.
How did you enjoy being a part of the first Contender series?
Yes, it was fun, it was exciting even though the level of Muay Thai was not that high. Only 2-3 fighters were world-class level on that show.