Sometimes an alternate path brings you to the right destination.
For Pride Gym’s Charles Bisset, his passion for Muay Thai fighting has brought him from the small mining town of Retallack in the West Kootenay through Trail’s Pride Gym to the streets of L.A. and eventually to the birthplace of Muay Thai fighting.
2016 got off to a promising start for Bisset who won back-to-back fights by knockout over Iggy “El Toro” Zambrano in February and a TKO over Dejon Daniels in July, but when his next highly-touted Las Vegas fight was cancelled, frustration set in, so the 30-year-old booked a ticket for Thailand.
“I went over to Phuket and went to the oldest gym they had there, called the Suwit Gym,” said Bisset. “That’s where the motherland is, and that’s where the sport comes from. And if there’s one thing I know and everyone knows, it’s a place where you can get a whole bunch of fights.”
It didn’t take long for Suwit’s top trainers to take notice of the accomplished fighter, and within days Bisset received private instruction twice a day and up to four hours each session. After two weeks of training, Bisset faced his first opponent, who, like many Thai fighters, had over 200 fights under his belt.
“It was cool, you learn what to do and not to do, but over in Thailand they overtrain a lot, but it was still a cool experience to go over and learn some new tricks. Fighting in Canada is different than fighting in the States, and fighting in Thailand is totally different.”
Muay Thai is like a religion in Thailand, and betting on fights its unfortunate evil, as hundreds surrounded the smoke-filled ring with money flying furiously.
“The betting is so big over there, and the guy I was fighting use to be a pretty big name, so he was the favourite,” said Bisset. “But my trainer knew I was good so he was betting a whole bunch of money on me.”
Bisset entered the ring, and took a seat among the spectators, and many poked and prodded the tall, blond Canadian to test the heart and physique of the foreign thoroughbred.
“It was a great experience, but the ring was in rough condition and there was no commission,” said Bisset.
A puddle of water settled in his corner, and his wraps were bound uniquely heavy at the knuckle and rather than 10-ounce gloves, the fighters in Thailand are fitted with six-ounce gloves, resembling more of an MMA fighter’s grappling mitts.
“This fight was insane. We fought with six-ounce gloves, which for a heavyweight fight or a 200-pound guy is crazy … He started off with a good left-hook and I could feel the knuckle through the pads.”
At the opening bell, the Thai fighter came out south-paw and landed two good shots early on, but the Pride Fighter went Dutch style and countered with hard leg kicks. Bisset’s opponent came at him with a flashy Saenchai flying-scissor kick, but the Kootenay native reacted catching the Thai fighter in mid-air with a counter kick to the chest.
“I said, ‘alright if you want to be disrespectful we’ll be disrespectful and after that I started chopping his legs, and I could tell his heart was taken away.”
Bisset delivered a devastating head kick that ended the fight in the first round as the arena erupted.
“The whole place went crazy, I mean, he was out.”
Bisset followed that up with a fight in Bangkok at the Muang Thong Stadium on Dec. 2 where he finished off another high-ranked Thai opponent by knockout, much to the dismay of his coach who was working the audience to increase the odds.
“He was a little unorthodox and he landed a hard elbow and in between he landed another good body shot,” said Bisset. “Then I threw a beautiful left hook and dropped him, and I thought that was it, but they gave him an eight count. And I looked at my coach in the audience and he gave me this look, because he told me to take it to the third round.”
The fight continued into the second and after taking another hard shot to the body, Bisset connected with a left hook and knee to the head that finished the Thai fighter.
Bisset left for the airport to fly home immediately following the fight, and found out later that he’d made a strong impression on the spectators and organizers. Three different Bangkok promoters offered Bisset stadium title fights, and the California resident plans to return to Thailand to face those challenges later in 2017.
“It was wild, they offered me a title fight the next day,” said Bisset. “I’m going back next June or in November and it’s going to happen. So it’s good, exciting things always happen that way.”
Pride Gym has produced over 20 champions and numerous world-class fighters, including Bisset who has won the National Muay Thai Canadian title, the North American Muay Thai cruiser weight championship, and the World Kickboxing Association’s cruiser weight title.