The former K-1 MAX champion Buakaw Banchamek – formerly known as Buakaw Por. Pramuk – has announced his retirement.
He split with his former gym earlier this year amid allegations of financial impropriety on their part, first going into hiding and then emerging when his safety was guaranteed by the intervention of boxing brand sponsor Yokkao (the Thai underworld is not far from the Muay Thai world and Buakaw seemed genuinely afraid of reprisals.)
Buakaw took his old family name of Banchamek and built a new gym in his home region of Surin, but was hit with lawsuits by his former team and was then placed under an injunction which prevents him fighting until the issues are resolved.
The case got such international attention that the Thai government felt it necessary to intervene and so the Thailand Sports Authority brokered a meeting this week between the two sides, with the intention of arranging a new and mutually acceptable deal.
The deal was supposed to be signed today and would see Buakaw return to the Por. Pramuk team, receive 60% of all his fight earnings and 75% of all his personal appearance fees. But Buakaw’s attorney stated that the fight should receive 100 per cent of all his endorsement and personal appearance fees, due to his being 30 years old and having only a few years as a fighter left.
It appears the Por. Pramuk team are being difficult about the matter, refusing to sign the deal that was placed in the table by the Sports Authority representative. In the aftermath, Buakaw has announced his retirement from competitive fighting.
“The problems between Buakaw & Por Pramuk camp have not been completely resolved. Both parties do not fully agree with the terms of a new contract between them and thus did not sign it today,” a Banchamek Gym spokesperson said.
“Mr. Pramuk Rojanathan, the owner of Por Pramuk camp, refused to sign as he is unhappy over the request to drop his lawsuit against Buakaw’s sports science trainer, Mr. Teerawat Yioyim.
“In addition, Major General Intharat Yodbangtoey, the mediator in this dispute, said that he wants to give both parties more time to examine the clauses in the new contract as there are details need to be further clarified and worked out and so they will all meet to discuss again on 31 May 2012.
“The reporters tried to ask Mr. Pramuk & his son Mr. Teeraphat about his objection to signing the new contract, but they refused to speak to the press & left immediately.” **
When Buakaw and Mr Pramuk met last week to work towards resolution it was the first time they had met since the Thai fighter left the camp in March. Buakaw took the role of the guilty party, apologising to Pramuk for the trouble he had caused in traditional fashion and presenting Mr Pramuk with an orchid.
However he also said at the time that he did not know when he would be ready to fight and that he has some injuries to heal. “When I left the camp, I didn’t think this would become such a big story and I’m still grateful to the camp. I don’t know how long I will fight. If I feel I can’t fight, then I will quit,” he said.
The new contract would have seen Buakaw carry on using the Por. Pramuk name but training at his own gym – one of Buakaw’s greivances was that despite being the camp’s top earner, he had been forced to share a room with three other fighters at the camp and was not allowed to take nights out or have a girlfriend.
Before today’s meeting began, Mr. Dej Jaikla, the Director-General of the Board of Boxing Sport, asked the media to leave the room. However, Mr. Pramuk asked that the media be allowed to stay.
Por Pramuk camp’s lawyer said that the camp was willing to drop their lawsuit against Mr. Teerawat Yioyim, Buakaw’s sports science trainer, provided that Buakaw accepted the new contract.
When an agreement could not be reached, the camp’s lawyer said that the camp would be happy to sell Buakaw off to another camp that is interested in buying him. This had been proposed by Major General Intharat Yodbangtoey at the previous meeting on May 23.
Buakaw then said that since both parties could not agree and that the outstanding issue now lies with him alone, all problems should come to an end if he retires. His family and his first Muay Thai teacher had “never asked for money and I have already repaid their kindness in full… Therefore, I would like to retire from boxing from now on. I will not fight again and will not try to register [as a boxer with the Board of Boxing Sport] again under a different name.”
On hearing this, Mr. Pramuk and his son Mr. Teeraphat burst into applause lasting many minutes, for which they were reprimanded by the Deputy Governor of the SAT. They replied that they had not applauded Buakaw’s retirement but only that the problems between them had come to an end, something which the more cynical observers found hard to believe.
The Por. Pramuk camp insists that a ‘third party’ is behind Buakaw’s recent actions but the boxer insists otherwise. However, both sides say it is regrettable that he will now retire from fighting and will no longer bring attention to Thailand on the world stage.
Going forward, Buakaw now expects to be a trainer of Muay Thai at his new gym in Surin. Apparently numerous youngsters have already been registered at the gym and there is also strong foreign interest.