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20 E 38th St (between 5th and Madison)

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COBAN

Coban Lookchaomaesaitong®” was born on August 4, 1966 in Buriram, a small city in Northeastern Thailand.  The middle child of a farming family of seven, he found an interest in the life of Muay Thai. For Coban, Muay Thai is not just a profession. It's his history.  It is his way of life.
Coban began training on his own at the age of 11. He made himself a heavy bag by packing a 100-lb canvas rice bag with sawdust and rice hulls. Driven by instinct and watching local fights, Coban shadowboxed, and worked combinations on his bag. His first fight was when he was 11 years old. It was at a fair sponsored by a Buddhist temple (there are many such fairs in Thailand). He stepped up to the scale, got his weight and entered the ring. He fought well, but the result was a draw. He didn’t quit; he continued to fight and improve. With the little money he earned, he supported his education and helped his family.
 
As luck or fate would have it, one year later, a physician named Sam Rhung Jong Gon (whose brother was a Muay Thai Kickboxing fighter, and himself a ringside doctor and judge) had relocated to the Public Health and Recreational Center in Buriram. He saw Coban training, and invited him to train at the Center. He provided Coban with a heavy bag, and encouraged him to train. While other kids at the Center were playing soccer, Coban trained Muay Thai everyday before and after school. By the time he was 15 years old, he had fought at least 35 fights.
 
When Coban was ready to attend high school, Sam Rhung Jong Gon was ready to move on himself. As his last gesture of mentorship and friendship, he sent Coban to Camp Lookchaomaesaitong, where, according to tradition, he adopted the camp’s name as his fighting “last name.” He used Coban as his fighting “first name,” which means “Cowboy.” It had been given by his elementary school teacher because Coban’s nickname was “Ban” (short for Banlu) and he used to herd buffaloes. He spent the next nine years at the Camp. During this time, Coban ascended through the ranks and gained fame as a naturally tough fighter with instincts for Muay Thai kickboxing. He won his first World Championship at the age of 19 at Lumpinee Stadium (1985).
When Coban was 24 years old, Camp Lookchaomaesaitong closed down (it has since reopened). Coban’s promoter at that time sent him to Bangkok to train in three camps: Ghed Bangchong, Pad Apon and Meung Suring (he kept the name Lookchaomaesaitong out of respect to his original camp). In that year, he won his second Lumpinee title (1990), his third World Championship in The Netherlands (1990), and his fourth in France (1990). A year later, Coban went on to win his fifth World Championship in Bangkok (1991), sixth in England (1991) and seventh in Australia (1991).
 
In 1994, Coban went to California, where he earned three additional belts. In his entire career, he as had over 270 fights.
 
One of Coban's most renowned fights in Muay Thai was with world champion Ramon "The Diamond" Dekkers. They fought a total of four times and their fights are ranked as one of the best by fans during the "Golden Age" of Muay Thai. Coban holds much respect for Ramon. Tragically, however, Ramon passed away in 2013. Their history as fighters and respect for one another was even remembered by Ramon's father who visited Coban while he was in New York City, shortly after his son's passing.