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Beyond the Ring: Bangtao’s Support for Thai Kids and Local Communities

Wor. Watthana gym in thailand youth charity hero image

At Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA, we prioritize giving back to our community. It’s more than just a goal of ours; we see it as a responsibility. We are here to support Thai people – our home, our foundation, and our reason for doing what we do. Martial arts brings people together; it unites them and forms unbreakable bonds. It builds confidence and camaraderie and often provides a refuge from life’s challenges. People start their martial arts journey for various reasons, but in Thailand, many children must turn to fighting to make ends meet.

Bangtao’s founders originally came to Thailand to absorb the country’s unique fight culture. Muay Thai is an integral part of what we are doing, and the sport at the grassroots level is severely underfunded. Our trainers began their journey as young Nak Muay in the countryside. Village life in Thailand is plagued by poverty and lack of opportunity, with Muay Thai being the only thing they had to keep them on the straight and narrow.

We’re very honored to be supporting Wor. Watthana Gym in Northeast Thailand.

Frances and Boom when the gym first started in 2014

Founded by Thanit Watthanaya and his wife Frances, the couple has had to overcome extreme challenges to keep the gym up and running. They take the kids to school and pick them up every day, cover all educational costs, and even started an English program, the first of its kind, to help the kids prepare for life away from the gym. Our head MMA, Coach George Hickman, a father of two, places great importance on their work.

“Boom and Frances are amazing human beings. They are changing lives up there in Isaan, and we fully support what they are doing. Frances is one of my best friends. She’s a tough lady. It’s not easy what she’s doing. These kids deserve a chance at life, and that’s what Wor. Watthana is providing them.”

Northeast Thailand, commonly referred to as Isaan, remains the most underdeveloped and impoverished part of Thailand; it is also where the overwhelming majority of fighters come from. Established in 2014, Wor. Watthana is a gym and a home for at-risk children and youth. Many of the children under their care have been displaced due to challenging family circumstances. Located in Buriram Province, the gym is currently responsible for the well-being of 12 children.

Boom with the kids in Khorat
Boom with the kids in Khorat

In an effort to keep the kids safe and away from drugs, Boom and Frances have made it their mission to teach the kids invaluable life skills they wouldn’t have learned anywhere else, such as personal responsibility, money management, proper nutrition, and discipline. While competing is optional, training and attending school are a must, as the goal is to develop these kids through high school into adults ready to face the world.

Their oldest, Bpaet, is now entering his third year of university. Abandoned by his parents shortly after birth, Bpaet was living with his aunt when he came to live at the gym. Under their care, Bpaet became an Isaan champion and has fought on national TV numerous times. He is the first person in his immediate family to attend university and is currently on a sports scholarship. He calls Frances “Mom” and says that without the gym, he probably wouldn’t have finished high school.

Boom with the kids in the house they built.
Boom with the kids in the house they built.

Through the sales of our Wor. Watthana x Bangtao t-shirts, we have raised nearly 200,000 baht for the gym. This money goes towards food, water, clothing, shelter, education, and whatever else the kids need. They also provide meaningful employment for their two trainers who otherwise would have to leave their families behind and flock to the city for work.

Frances sees the connection with Bangtao as more than just a sponsor but an opportunity in the making.

“We’re so grateful to have a gym like Bangtao in our corner. It’s not easy doing what we’re doing, and we need all of the support we can get. I hope our kids will be able to work at Bangtao or become MMA fighters there. That’s the goal. It’s more than just financial support the gym offers; they’re helping give our kids a path out of poverty and the foundation to make it there.”

Lily Laurie from England Repping the Wor. Watthana top.
Lily Laurie from England Repping the Wor. Watthana top.

Support the incredible work being done at Wor. Watthana Gym by purchasing our exclusive Wor. Watthana & Bangtao Collab T-Shirts, available in both kids and adult sizes. Every shirt sold helps fund vital resources like food, education, and training for the children at the gym. Shop now at Bangtao Fightstore, online or in-store, and make a difference in the lives of these kids. Join us in empowering the community and providing a brighter future. Buy now and support the cause here.

WOR.WATTHANA T-SHIRT X Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA shirt
WOR.WATTHANA T-SHIRT X Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA shirt