Exclusive interview with Phuket Top Team’s owner Boyd Clarke

Phuket Top Team ranks among one of the best Mixed Martial Arts facilities in Asia today with quality instructors across multiple disciplines such as Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and Boxing.

The gym is home to some of the region’s finest Mixed Martial Arts stars as well, who have gone on to represent famed promotions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator MMA and ONE Fighting Championship.

Fight Sport Asia recently had the opportunity to chat with Phuket Top Team’s owner, Boyd Clarke. He talks about his gym’s highlights in 2013, its fighters, what’s possibly in store for the Thailand-based facility in the near future, and much, much more.

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Check out the full interview below:

  • FSA: It was a fantastic year for Asian MMA in 2013, and a remarkable one for Phuket Top Team at that. What do you think were the highlights for PTT (Phuket Top Team)?

Boyd: “ONE FC has done so much for Asian MMA, the UFC Asia series is fantastic, and organizations like PXC, ROAD FC, PANCRASE, Shooto, URCC, DARE, Rebel FC and many others have all helped raise the sport and the interest. ONE FC have just shown themselves as a leader as far as signings go, production and the number of events they have been putting on. As a gym owner I’m excited about this sport and the growth we are seeing.

Yeah it was a huge year with our fighters amassing 40+ pro MMA fights with a 92% win ratio. I could have never expected that level of success. There were of course some massive wins in that list – Anthony Leone defeating Zack Makovsky in Bellator, Rob Lisita getting the Bulldog choke submission triumph over ‘Lion’ Takeshi, Ian Entwistle scoring a submission of the year worthy flying heel hook, Adam Kayoom defeating Gregor Gracie and so many other incredible feats for the team. Our finish ratio was around 68% too so I’m also proud of that.”

  • FSA: To date, has Phuket Top Team lived up to your expectations? Can you talk about the growth of the gym since its inception? How has the progress been? 

Boyd: “Yes for sure. Money doesn’t come flying in – but that was never the key agenda. What’s huge for me is the success we’ve seen in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions and MMA contests. I would like enough money to offer my children a good life, beyond that I don’t require my gym to pull in massive money. If I can keep the tight family feel, produce champions and develop Asian MMA… I’ll be happy with that.”

  • FSA: What sets Phuket Top Team apart from the rest of the MMA gyms in Thailand? How competitive is the MMA scene in the country right now?

Boyd: “I think honestly we are the only family run gym. Me, my wife, her nephew and her cousin run this place. We built the facility to include everything a world class gym needs with 3 Muay Thai rings, a massive indoor MMA area and a full-sized MMA cage. We are not looking to expand our numbers. We have a limit of 100 students over 6 classes in a day. Although I want quality, I like to keep everything contained and private.”

  • FSA: Do you view fellow MMA camps like Tiger Muay Thai and AKA: Thailand as competitors? 

Boyd: “Sure, to an extent. But I think they compete with each other more though. Both are American owned gyms, and they’ve both built facilities that can host up to 350/400+ students each month. With the high season, I think their numbers vary to even more than that. I believe that puts them much more in competition with each other. Either way we are here to stay, we don’t need huge numbers to survive. We own the land we are on and we are happy to continue to focus on our training, our fight team and our progress as a gym is cultivated to develop a ‘Team’ feel.”

  • FSA: In 2013 alone, PTT had the pleasure of hosting top fighters such as Anthony Perosh and Joseph Benavidez among others. Why do you think these names prolific names were drawn to PTT? How did you feel about these fighters sharing their experiences with your own talents? And can we see more of such names in the future? 

Boyd: “It’s always nice. Vaughan Lee, Anthony Perosh, Joseph Benavidez, Alistair Overeem, Jorge Masvidal, Ben Askren and many other guys have come through. That’s an honor for us. However, I think it’s important to focus on our already impressive core and permanent team. We are grooming these guys to be bigger, better and equally or more known than those names above. Anthony Leone, Andrew Leone, Rob Lisita, Ian Entwistle, Moise Rimbon, Daniel Tabera, Don Carlo-Clauss, Muslim Salikhov, James McSweeney and many more are our core team fighters. Carlson Gracie said, ‘To be a lion; you must train with the lions’. I think that’s why we can attract the best in the business to visit PTT.”

  • FSA: As the owner, how do you keep your fighters motivated? 

Boyd: “It’s not always easy. For me, I am first and foremost a friend to my fighters. I have a genuine interest in how they are doing personally. I hang out and chat with them. I work one on one with the majority of the team on MMA striking (pads) and game planning for specific opponents.  I like to think I can help to motivate and just make the guys/girls see the reason they continue through the good, the bad and the ugly times.”

  • FSA: Can you elaborate on the opportunities that fighters at Phuket Top Team get? What are the benefits of training there? 

Boyd: “Obviously working with out core fight team and working with our trainers like 3rd degree Carlson Gracie BJJ Black Belt Prof. Olavo Abreu, Thai trainers Nonsai Sor Sanyakorn, Leamtong To Ponchai, Kru Choek and the whole Thai team. The ThailandWrestling.com team we have at PTT is world class and of course Don Carlo-Clauss, a former Strikeforce fighter, runs the MMA program. When you come to PTT and you’re a nice guy/girl with good skills, you will find yourself taken into the team very quickly. For full time fighters we offer sponsored training, marketing, fights in Asia and sponsorship opportunities with local restaurants/supplement shops and much more.”

  • FSA: Often times, a ‘family gym’ is something that the regular fitness enthusiast goes after. Do you feel that’s something Phuket Top Team offers as well? 

Boyd: “Yes. Family/Team is a big thing. MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ and Wrestling are all solo sports. However no-one good has ever got to the top without a team and a family around them to help them achieve their fullest potential.”

  • FSA: It’s no surprise that PTT is one of the leading MMA gyms in Asia right now. With the amount of growing list of talents that you have at your disposal, what’s the secret behind PTT’s success? 

Boyd: “Honestly, I think it’s the constant and never-ending drive and push for development. A personal feel that each of our guys have with each other and the confidence that we as coaches instill in our fighters and students. There are many ways to be successful and many descriptions of ‘success.’ I have been involved in losses where success was evident. Our success is shared as a team.”

  • FSA: Can you talk about some your fighters on the PTT fight team? And can you give us a list of names that people should be on the lookout for in the future?

Boyd: “Well the list is kind of long so I won’t go through them all. You all know Anthony Leone, Andrew Leone and James McSweeney… but 2014 expect huge things from Rob Lisita (ONE FC), Ian Entwistle (UFC prospect), Daniel Tabera (M-1 Global), Moise Rimbon (DARE) and Gianni Subba (ONE FC), etc. We have lots of guys coming up who are unknown and we are really proud to push our fighters and team. Get on the phukettopteam.com website and check out what we have to offer.”

  • FSA: PTT’s fighters have competed in UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, BRACE, AFC, Rebel and a host of other organizations. Where do you see PTT going from here? How’s the future of MMA in Thailand like?

Boyd: “Asian MMA is in itself can be contradictory. Asian MMA is booming, no doubt. I feel the level cannot boom as much as the sport, the skill for each discipline takes a lot longer to develop. So for now the top guys are mostly foreigners and Asian fighters who have trained with or in foreign countries for decent preiods of time. That said I can see the next 5 years having a huge growth in Asian grown talent.

ONE FC is without a doubt the front runner of the Asian MMA scene, the opportunities and the growth of ONE FC and the fighters they have brought up, is unquestionable. I respect anyone investing in Asian MMA. Without promoters and investors taking the leap to step into Asian MMA, our gym, our fighters and the sport in Asia, would not be the power-house it has grown into.

PTT’s fighters have competed in UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, BRACE, AFC, Rebel FC and a host of other organizations. I think it continues. Massive wins in Bellator, UFC, ONE FC, etc. titles should follow suit – chasing the gold and getting some belts to hang in the gym. That’s whats next for Phuket Top Team.”

* Boyd Clarke would like thank BOOSTER FIGHT GEAR, Vicious Circle, Fairtex and to everyone for their continuous support of PTT. 

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Be sure keep up with the latest news from Phuket Top Team on Twitter (@PhuketTopTeam), Instagram (@PhuketTopTeam) and Facebook

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Categories: Asian MMA, Interview, MMA, Phuket Top Team, Thailand

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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