It seems to be impossible. Is there enough time in the whole human’s life to found and develop the new kind of sport in the country, to promote over 500 tournaments, to write books that become incredibly popular, to create a TV-show and to train both world known champions and ordinary businessmen? You probably answer “No”. And will be wrong, because HE has managed with all that (and more) in a couple of decades. His name is Sergey Zayashnikov, and he is the founder of Thai Boxing in Russia.
I was born in a far-away Siberian land, and I had lived in a village till I was 16 years old.
In 1989 I realized that I wanted to develop a new kind of martial arts both useful for real life and beautiful for making great shows. I tried out karate, Russian style of martial art, kick-boxing… And wasn’t satisfied till I found out that all the advantages I needed were combined in an ancient martial art with a beautiful name “Muay Thai” (the Thai name of Thai boxing). It happened in 1992.
The year of the very beginning for Muay Thai in Russia was 1992. It was a year when I registered Russian Muay Thai League in Novosibirsk. In 1996 I was already in Moscow, preparing to create amateur Russian Thai Boxing Federation (RTBF). Now the federation functions by itself without my participation in it. Nothing can stop Muay Thai developing in Russia now or interfere it someway. It’s nice to realize you’ve created a system that can develop itself without assistance.
When I’m saying “the system works by itself” I mean that thousands people like trainers, boxers, managers have place to work and opportunity to earn such an amount of money they could never imagine – and all that thanks to Muay Thai. When I started developing Muay Thai in Russia nobody could say exactly what did the word “Muay Thai” mean and all the people who wanted to train Muay Thai I knew personally (it’s not so hard when it goes to 10 people). And now there are over 200 clubs all over Russia, with more then 10 000 people training there. Muay Thai has an official support from ministers and governors as well. Our trainers and boxers have an opportunity to go abroad and fight at international tournaments. Could all these guys from ordinary Russian towns dream about being world champions? Off course no, without Muay Thai. We have trained and brought up such world-known champions as Джабар Аскеров, Арслан Магомедов, Артур Гасанов. This would be impossible without creating a working system.
I had to go to Thailand maybe 30 times or more in the beginning 1990s –it was necessary to fix up some formalities. In 90s I spent in planes more time then at home: I’ve been all over Russia, developing Muay Thai infrastructure, registering regional Thai Boxing federations and achieving official recognition of Muay Thai in Russia.
Today I can say definitely we have an official recognition. We have an official recognition at Russian State Committee of Sport and Russian Olympic committee. By the way, my office is just there (in the Olympic Committee). The most significant event for all martial arts in Russia is now the annual tournament organized by Russian Union of Martial Arts (RSBI). Every year my boxers take part in this great show, which is held at 10000-seat Luzhniki arena. This event is broadly supported by Russian government and Vladimir Putin, who once visited the shoy.
I held over 500 tournaments in Russia, America, Japan, and United Emirates (by myself or with assistance). Now I don’t manage the events. I sanction the tournaments as the president of Russian Muay Thai League and World Boxing League of Muay Thai.
Now I have at least 40 boxers of different weight who are always ready to fight at the tournaments or to train younger boxers.
I’ve commented a weekly TV-show at NTV since 1996, and it’s the only telecast about Muay Thai in Russia. I also have written the first Muay Thai manual for colleges in the world. The edition of all my books about martial arts totals 500 000 copies.
When I was sugggested to be a TV-show commentator at NTV channel in 1996, I wanted to refuse. I told them: “Listen, I’m not sure I pronounce even half letters in the alphabet correctly, and you want me to comment a show”. But they didn’t worry about it. “We’ll give you good specialist to work with your pronunciation”, - they said. So they did...and I started learning. It was so hard, that sometimes I was about to burst into tears. But, you know, it was worth it and now I’m very grateful to people who taught me to articulate on TV.
For many guys who watch my TV-show it is the only way to see the real Muay Thai. Many of our telecasts are being recorded and used as video manual for Muay Thai boxers.
Few times a week I make Muay Thai trainings for people who are 30 years old and older. This age is very nervous and tough period for men who own the business and for people with a great responsibility on them. I feel their striving for self-development (especially in such a hard sports as Muay Thai) close to my own. And do you know the paradox? The more cruel one sport is, the gentler is the training system in it. So in Muay Thai you will find a very humane way of training, so people can prepare successfully without damaging themselves. For these aims we use special equipment, such as pads.
I personally train only VIP-customers. It’s pleasure for me that several of them are in top-100 Forbes list of the wealthiest men in Russia. Usually they ask me themselves to train them but it’s quite hard to get my personal trainings. I also have a club where I don’t train personally. People there train with my coaches. The total square of that gym is 7000 square meters.
When I first tried judo and unarmed self-defense in 1981, I weighed 57 kilos and my head was the heaviest part of me. So I had no chance in wrestling and chose karate that was incredibly popular at that time.
After karate was banned in our country, I organized a secret karate club at my faculty in Novosibirsk university. There I also prepared young men for serving in the army. And you know what? Since then I’ve got plenty of letters from those people, in which they told me how grateful they were to me, because in the army they realized that trainings in my club were the most useful lessons they had had in the university…
The “cruelty” of Muay Thai is a myth. Any kind of professional sport is cruel, isn’t it? Let’s compare: in boxing, for example, 80% of the strokes go to the head and to the right rib where the liver is located. And in Muay Thai all the strokes are evenly distributed over the whole body. So you can judge by yourself.
Is Muay Thai useful for a real life? Absolutely it is. There were 2 accidents in latter days when men who I train had to defense themselves, and they did it successfully and with honor.
If you decide to go in for Muay Thai, you must get used to pain. You must be ready for hard exhausting trainings. Going in for Muay Thai will give pleasure if you know what do you want and if you have a competent Teacher who believes in you. You must be ready for the defeats, but remember: the defeat is just another step to the victory. When you achieve success, forget about it immediately, because now it’s in the past, and you – you should think what for people would need you tomorrow.
My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. My daughter is a very talanted person, and now she studies at Moscow State University. I'm also very proud of my son, who now studies at one of the best gymnasiums in Moscow very succesfully.
My wife hasn't to work now. I can provide the family well enough by my own, so she left her work. Now she helps me to run the business, and manages with it perfectly. So I can say we have a kind of family business.
I like fishing and hunting a lot...yes, though the last time I remember it happened was probably 20 years ago. I enjoy reading, it makes me understand some feelings wich I possibly never can experience in my life.
Most of all in my career I'm proud that I have eventually carried my business through. I mean I was able to drew up all the documents, develop that entire infrastructure. Now the system works by itself, and develops by itself, and nothing can interfere it.