Buakaw is being sued by his former gym Por. Pramuk for $3 million.
The former K-1 champion - now going by the name Buakaw Banchamek - parted ways with Por. Pramuk last month amid allegations of financial impropriety and harsh treatment. Anecdotal reports suggested he feared for his physical safety - the underworld is never far from the Thai fighting world - but once the Thai sports ministry got involved, all those fears were assuaged.
However, Buakaw had a booking to appear at the large-scale Thai Fight 2012 tournament taking place in --- earlier this month. It was uncertain whether he would take part because of the split, but in the end he proceeded under the name Buakaw Por. Pramuk as he was still under that name when the booking was originally made some months ago.
But that wasn’t enough for his former gym - they are demanding that his purse be handed over, as well as other sums for loss of earnings and breach of contract. Suit has been filed against Sport Art Co. (the organisers of Thai Fight), Buakaw himself (real name Sombat Banchamek), his manager and the Sports Authority of Thailand.
The total suit is for 100,000,000 Thai baht. That works out at $3.2 million, or £2,000,000 - an astronomical sum in the west and an absolutely galactic sum in Thailand, where poverty is rife. Por. Pramuk’s figures are based on a claim of 26 million baht for lost earnings, 68 million baht from sponsorship and live broadcasts of fights to more than 170 countries, plus general damages.
Por. Pramuk is asking the court to prevent Buakaw from fighting on any more Thai Fight events for the rest of this year, and it also wants an injunction against his new manager handling any management duties in 2012. The claim against the Sports Authority alleges that they have failed to perform their duty and should pay damages accordingly.
In a statement, the attorney acting for the Por. Pramuk team said that the camp was still open to working out an arrangement with the departed fighter and that they wouldn’t be filing criminal charges (which under Thai law they could). They want a meeting with Buakaw to discuss a mutually beneficial arrangement.
In light of that statement, it seems the lawsuits filed this week could be little more than an attempt to force Buakaw back to the negotiating table. Without his star power, the Por. Pramuk camp is going to seriously decline in wealth and prominence - Buakaw was the only real big name they had and, aside from his fighting, he also brought a lot of tourist training dollars to the camp.
The court hearing is set for July; Buakaw may respond by filing suit of his own based on his accusations of financial impropriety on the part of Por. Pramuk - he was paid a fraction of his earnings from his fights for K-1 MAX in Japan, most if the purses going straight to the camp owners.