Thai boxing champ training American troops at Cobra Gold

U.S. troops got a kick out of training in Thailand last week when legendary Muay Thai champion Buakaw Benchamek taught them his blockbuster punching and kicking techniques as part of the Cobra Gold joint military exercises in the Kingdom.
Muay Thai, sometimes referred to as Thai kickboxing, is the Kingdom’s native martial art. Muay Thai techniques were used in hand-to-hand combat throughout the past. Today, it is the national sport and many mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters around the world have studied Muay Thai as part of their training and development.
“This is what we need to know how to do and to learn from one of the best in the entire world,” said Adam Castle, an American soldier. “It has been really great to learn some skills that we can take back and use in the future,” he added.
Modern Muay Thai is fought in a Western-style boxing ring with fighters wearing gloves, for a maximum of five three-minute rounds and a referee overseeing the action. In Muay Thai, fighters can do more than punching. They can unleash roundhouse kicks and strike blows with their knees and elbows to throw their opponents to the canvas.
Buakaw, who hails from Surin province in the northeast, is one of the most popular Muay Thai fighters in Thailand. As a middleweight, he has 240 victories in 277 fights and is known in the ring as both “The White Lotus” (literal translation from Buakaw in Thai language) and “The Black Gold.”
The Cobra Gold training is a hallmark of the Thai-U.S. alliance and security cooperation. They are the largest joint military exercises held by the U.S. and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. Co-hosted every year with Thailand, thousands of soldiers from more than a dozen countries are participating in the 42nd edition of the exercises which will conclude this week.