WKO, which stands the World Kumite Organization, is often overlooked as a place to train Muay Thai due to its appearance as a Kung Fu school. The gym is owned by a man named Robert McInnes, who has an extensive martial arts background.
In 1993, Sifu McInnes was the first Westerner to be become an official referee at Lumpinee stadium. If you do a search for Ramon Dekkers vs Jomhod on Youtube, you’ll see him working the famous fight.
Sifu McInnes also has an impressive reputation for training fighters, and he received an award from the Prince of Thailand for his achievements.
In 1991, he took on a young 15 year old Thai boy who aspired to become a champion. His name was Yodsanan and after a few years of training with Sifu McInnes, and having never fought before McInnes started training him, he captured the PABA super featherweight boxing title and eventually went on to become a WBA world champion.
At the time of this writing, Yodsanan has a 51-3-1 record (Western boxing) and is working as a trainer at Evolve MMA in Singapore. You can look up Yodsanan “Sityodtong/Sor Nantthachai/3k Battery” or “Yodsanan Mini Tyson” to watch some of his fights.
With Yodsanan showing such dramatic improvements, Yodtong Senanan (founder of the Sityodtong camp and trainer to more Muay Thai champions than anyone else in the history of Muay Thai), requested that McInnes take on another young boy he had at his camp. His name was Yodumlung and under the his guidance, he also captured a WBA boxing title.
Sifu McInnes also had success as a Muay Thai trainer as his teachings helped contribute to the success of Sakmongkol Sithchuchok (5x WMC World champion and 3x Lumpinee stadium champion) and Chatchai Paiseetong (3x Lumpinee stadium champion who represented the Sityodtong camp).
Sakmongkol, who is now viewed as a living legend for his achievements during the “golden age” of the sport, is currently working as a trainer at WKO.
The WKO gym is centrally located on Pattaya Klang, which runs from the main Sukhumvit road down to the beach. If you’re coming from the beach, the gym will be on your right hand side, just after you pass the Big C on the left side. The reverse applies if you’re going down Pattaya Klang from Sukhumvit (the gym will be on your left side before you reach the Big C shopping center on your right). The exact address is 503/16 M9 Pattaya Klang Rd.
The gym doesn’t provide accommodation but with a central location, and Pattaya’s convenient “baht bus” system, you can easily commute to the gym from most areas of the city. Accommodation, both short and long term, is quite easily found in Pattaya.
Training Info and Photos
As mentioned above, Sakmongkol is working as a trainer here so you may have a chance to work with one of the best fighters of his time. Important to note is that there isn’t a morning training session here, which partially explains the low cost for training at approximately 4000 baht per month. Based on my experience, this is very much a gym where you’ll get back what you put in.
You can do drop in session where you just smash pads with a trainer and leave shortly after, or you can explain to the trainers what you’re hoping to get out of the session (focus on clinching or certain techniques) and they’ll accommodate you.
The most comprehensive resource on training at the WKO gym is on Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu’s blog. She has an excellent series on there entitled “training with Sakmongkol“, which documents her time training at WKO.