Over a billion people use Instagram every month with over 500 million active users daily. It is consistently one the biggest social media platforms to date however it is not without its criticisms and scrutiny. It has been found to have negative effects on mental health contributing to depression and anxiety as well as loneliness and impacted sleep habits.
Despite these grievances, the app was actually designed to connect people. Aims of the app also include discovering people that are interested in the same things as you as well being a source of inspiration and knowledge for its users.
One of the best ways to quell the FOMO (fear of missing out) culture that Instagram has become notorious for, is to unfollow any accounts that do not contribute to your mental wellbeing. Another tactic is to fill your feed with accounts that motivate you, that create value and/or offer knowledge.
As a Thai boxer, Instagram is a great way to stay connected to your favourite fighters. However, not all fighters produce good content. The best accounts offer stories, tutorials and insight into the life of a professional fighter. They should not only improve your feed but offer inspiration, and most importantly, honesty.
Here is our top round up of Muay Thai fighters to upgrade your feed:
Greg Wootton: @greg_wootton
Greg Wootton is a 2 x world champion, European champion and previous UK no.1. Nicknamed ‘The Prodigy’, he is considered one of Britain’s best homegrown talents. One of his most notable wins was over Petchboonchu, Thailand’s most decorated fighter, who held titles at both Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadiums. Greg is now retired, but he continues to be a highly sought after coach around the world.
Fight to Watch: Greg Wootton vs Luke Turner
Two of the UK’s rising stars war it out in one of the best Muay Thai fights on British soil.
Why You Should Follow Him: His feed shares lessons and stories of a life dedicated to the craft. An honest account detailing the sacrifice and mindset needed to become number one.
Best Insta Post: Greg’s best posts are in his ‘5 Variations’ series where he demonstrates 5 variations of his chosen strike. Most recently he covered the Teep. Check out the post here:
John Wayne Parr: @johnwayneparr
JWP is a 10 x world champion Muay Thai fighter, clocking up an impressive 147 fights with 110 wins. Hailing from Australia, he has competed in Taekwondo, kickboxing, boxing and Thai boxing. He has fought all over the world, entertaining on some of the best platforms available to a fighter. He moved to Thailand in 96, where he won two world titles, was voted ‘Best Farang Fighter of the Year’ (97) and received his nickname: ‘The Gunslinger’.
Parr has retired and come back a couple times. Although he came out of his last retirement to sign a 6-fight deal with One Championship earlier this year, he is currently recovering from a hip replacement surgery, and aims to compete after his recovery.
Fight to Watch: John Wayne Parr vs Yodsanklai
JWP faces another Muay Thai legend in Yodsanklai. Their first fight will always go down in history as it was the first WBC (World Boxing Council) certified Muay Thai Champion fight, a now very prestigious title. Check out this trilogy to see Parr finally beat the Thai in their final match.
Why You Should Follow Him: Grit meets wit here. Parr’s sense of humour is noticeable throughout his feed. Follow him for Muay Thai memes, funny stories and real talk.
Best Insta Post: John Wayne Parr is currently on 336 stitches on his face. Here he shares a mock up of what he would look like if he had them all at once :
Sam A Gaiyanghadao: @aaa_gaiyanghadao
Sam A is one of the world’s best active Thai fighters. He is a 2 x Lumpinee World Champion, WBC Muay Thai World Champion and the reigning One Championship World Champion in both Muay Thai and Kickboxing rulesets. He began fighting at just 9 years old and has clocked in over 400 fights over his career. He is currently signed to One Championship and coaches for Evolve MMA in Singapore.
Fight to Watch: Sam A vs Detnarong Wor. Sangprapai
Although many of his One Championship fights result in brutal TKOs or KOs for his opponents, some of his best fights were earlier in his career. This fight showcases the gruelling stamina the Thais have and the mastery of ranges Westerners could only dream of.
Why You Should Follow Him: Many of Sam A’s posts are in Thai, and he has only started posting regularly since his signing with One, but you can still find his lightning fast kicks and at home training videos there for great training inspiration.
Best Insta Post: Check out his insane and famed kick technique here:
Janet Todd: @jmcoakle
Janet is an American Muay Thai and Kickboxing fighter. She is a 2 x Pan American Muay Thai champion and is currently signed to One Championship where she is the reigning atomweight champion of kickboxing. She began her athletic career as a gymnast later transitioning to Muay Thai, falling in love with it. She balances her fight career with her full time job as an aerospace engineer.
Fight to Watch: Janet Todd vs Stamp Fairtex 2
A One Championship favourite. I highly recommend watching their first match, before watching part two, to see the difference a year of dedicated hard work can make.
Why You Should Follow Her: Her content documents her rigorous training regime. There are plenty of videos of ‘JT’ cracking pads with famed Team USA Muay Thai coach, Bryan Popejoy or fellow One signed fighter, Jackie Buntan. You can also find plenty of interesting sports conditioning videos. Her feed is a good insight into what a fighter’s training looks like and the effort that goes into it.
Best Insta Post: For a true insight into what it feels like to become a world champion, watch this video:
Tiffany van Soest: @tiffanytimebomb
Tiffany is a lifelong martial artist. She began with Karate, reaching a second degree black belt as a child before beginning Muay Thai at 18. She is now one of the world’s best fighters and is known for her rhythmic timing and precision. Previously signed to Lion Fight Promotions where she reigned champion for a period of roughly 4 years, she now fights for Glory where she is their current super bantamweight world title holder.
Fight to Watch: Tiffany van Soest vs Bernise Alldis
Check out this UK vs US female fight for non stop action and a very sneaky elbow.
Why You Should Follow Her: Artist and athlete, Tiffany often shares her poetry alongside her training clips. Follow her for a more reflective approach to martial arts as well as her ‘Beats by Bomb’ series where she hits the bag to match the rhythm of hip hop beats.
Best Insta Post: In recent years, she has been training predominantly out of Bali, but her latest stint was in the Netherlands with striking superstar Lucien Carbin. His infamous ‘Carbin All Style Dutch Kickboxing System’ works without a stance. Check out some of their training here:
Ognjen Topic: @topicfight
This 3 x world champion was born in Serbia but fights out of the US. He is a former Lion Fight world champion, and holds belts from both the WBC and WKA, but holds it down with his day job as a graphic designer. He began his Muay Thai career at 18 but can currently be found at North Jersey Muay Thai gym where he first began his training. He also teaches internationally.
Fight to Watch: Ognjen Topic vs Dechsakda Sitsongpeenong
Topic defeats the just recently dethroned Lumpinee number 1. Watch for Topics’ excellent use of long range strikes and teep fakes.
Why You Should Follow Him: A video heavy feed that’s full of tips and tricks as well as his #topictalk where he chats with some of the world’s best fighters over Instagram Live.
Best Insta Post: Ognjen does a great #topictip post where he slows down a short but dangerous technique and pairs it with a quick description of his actions. Highly effective despite the brevity. Here he manipulates his opponent in the clinch to set up for a head kick:
Joseph Valtellini: @bazooka_joe_v
More affectionately known as ‘Bazooka Joe’, Joseph is a currently retired Canadian Muay Thai kickboxer. His powerful punches paired with devastating low kicks earned him his nickname. Another black belt holder, he received his first dan black belt in Taekwondo by age ten and second dan by age 14. He practiced jiu jitsu before finding Muay Thai at age 19. His rise to fame included winning North American championships before signing with Glory Promotions in 2012. Officially retiring in 2015, he is now a commentator for Glory.
Fight to Watch: Joe Valtellini vs Raymond Daniels
Bazooka Joe delivers Raymond Daniels the first loss of his career. This is no easy feat. Watch how effectively a simple low kick can debilitate a flashy and aggressive fighter such as Daniels.
Why You Should Follow Him: A seemingly unlimited resource for bag and pad combos. He also has a Youtube channel where he shares some of his favourite drills.
Best Insta Post: This long chain Dutch Kickboxing pad drill:
Damien Trainor: @trainor103
Damien Trainor is one of the Uk’s most famous fighters. He began training at 14, taking and winning his first fight just 6 months later. By age 18, he had won regional and British titles, and ranked no.1. He soon branched out internationally, training and fighting in Thailand and went on to become a 2 x world champion before returning to his home city where he opened his own gym, K-Star Legacy.
Fight to Watch: Damien Trainor vs Tawatchai Budsadee
After a controversial first fight, Trainor faces Tawatchai again. A fight full of signature Trainor moves, from sweeps to body shots and long chain combinations.
Why You Should Follow Him: I can’t think of any other fighter who even comes close to providing such a large collection of instructionals on their feed. Not to be missed.
Best Insta Post: Honestly, the vast majority of his posts are a goldmine, but check out this post on his famed body shots. They can be hard to pull off in Muay Thai but Trainor makes it look effortless:
Bonus: Coach Kirian Fitzgibbons: @csagym
‘Coach K’ is the owner and head coach at Combat Sports Academy in Northern California. He is considered one of the best striking coaches in North America. His gym has amassed a whopping 40 Muay Thai champions to date under his tuition. Fighters include Eddie Abasolo , Miriam Nakamoto (also both worth a follow) and ‘Dreamkiller’ Bolanos. He also hosts regular ‘Coach Clinics’ where some of the world’s most talented coaches and fighters share their favorite techniques with his team. It’s also open to the public.
Why You Should Follow Him: His no b.s approach to fight coaching is extremely refreshing. It’s also an open and honest account of the sacrifices a coach makes to create champions. We often only see the fighter as a standalone character, but nothing they do is possible without their coaches and teammates.
Best Insta Post: This repost of a recording at one of his Coaches Clinics, where he addresses fear and the mindset needed to overcome it:
Whether or not you practice Muay Thai, the fighter’s journey is a fascinating one. Despite the many different backgrounds and experiences they may come from, many share stories with the same themes: sacrifice, humility, humour, discipline, honour and a deep passion and love for what they do. Martial arts is not just a sport they practice, it is a way of life, a mentality they live by.
By following these fighters you not only find inspiration and knowledge, but also a system for coping with the stresses of our daily lives, social media included. Make sure your feed is a positive space where you follow people you can laugh with, learn from or aspire to be.