|Giant Russian is ready to rumble|
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Ramazan “The Punisher” Ramazanov has been training in Thailand for five years and is now ready for a move to Japan’s K-1 mixed-martial arts competition and the big pay days.
A towering 1.9-metres tall and weighing 95 kilogrammes, the 24-year-old Russian is the current World Professional Muaythai Federation (WPMF) heavyweight champion.
“I am making enough money, getting good press and getting sponsors for every fight,” he says while taking a break from training at the Rompo Gym in Bangkok.
“As for my future plans, I don’t think I’ll stay in Thailand for too long. I have a contract with K-1. This is a Japanese freestyle organization. Everyone knows it.
It’s my dream to fight in K-1. Only the heavyweights are there, so that’s why I have moved my weight up. I would love to fight in K-1 one day and to become a champion.”
Ramazanov is typical of the increasing number of foreign boxers using Thailand as a springboard to sharpen their skills in preparation for international competition.
Watching him train at the Rompo Gym exhibition rapid-fire punches and kicks with awesome power, he seems more than ready for superstardom in the sport. He was introduced to the gym by his cousins Arslan and Magomed, both former champions.
Ramazanov fell in love with muay Thai as a teenager and turned pro when he moved here. He says all he does in Thailand is train and box. He misses his family in Russia and visits them once a year, staying for two or three months at a time.
“I have been living in Thailand for about five years already, but I also travel around the world. I am fighting here a lot as well as abroad, like in Australia, New Zealand, throughout Asia and in several European countries,” he says.
Ramazanov won his first WPMF title when he was 19 and fighting in the 79kg weight division.
“Before, when I was skinnier, I fought many times against Thai boxers and it was very hard,” he said. “They have a lot of experience and they train very hard. Some had their first fight when they were eight years old. They are good in kicks, knees and elbows… but they don’t use many punches.”
A problem for the giant Russian is the lack of opponents in his weight division.
“I am in the heavyweight division and I have no opponent. There are no Thais in this division, so I fight only with foreigners,” he says, adding that that is one of the reasons he has to fight overseas.
Ramazanov, who boasts that he has never been knocked out – “I don’t know how it feels” – has already set his sights on his next opponents.
“There are two opponents who I would like to fight. First is Dutch boxer Tyrone Spong and the other is Turk Gokman Saki. Both live in Holland. I am not afraid of any boxer. It is just a fight, nothing to be afraid of.”
His most memorable match was against Australian fighter Steve McKinnon in Sydney on Aug 12, 2007. He won by knocking him out with a right hook in the fourth round. His professional record is 47 wins (29 by knockout), seven losses and one draw.