Italy’s Mathias Gallo Cassarino (Mathias Sitsongpeenong) is the current WBC muay thai champion at 130 lbs (59 kgs). He defeated Cambodian nak muay Van Chan Seth by decision for the belt on January 5, 2013 on Ko Chang, Thailand.
His current record is 40 fights with 25 wins (10 by KO), 12 losses and 3 ties. Mathias has never lost by KO. Mathias is 20 years old.
You’ve had an interesting career as a nak muay. Unlike most foreign fighters, you started training at a very young age in Thailand. Let’s start here.
I have been coming to Thailand since I was born and I started training because my father used to train Muay Thai in Ko Samui. At first seeing my father training, I hated Muay Thai but when I was about 6 yo I started training as a game and at around 10 yo I had my first fight and we were both blindfolded. It was kind of a game and they gave a draw verdict but I assure you that the hits were not a game =). When I was 12 I had my first muay thai 5×3 full rules fight at Lamai stadium in Koh Samui. Now things are different, there are a lot of very young up and coming fighters, for example my team mate Alex of the Muay Farang team who is 11 years old and has already fought 3 times in Thailand. When I was 14 I moved to Thailand and started fighting for Pattaya Kombat gym and I grew up training with Christiam Daghio, to whom I owe a lot!
How old were you when you first fought? How was that experience?
My first fighting experience was great, it was something new, a bit scary of course but not that much because until I actually stepped in the ring I didn’t know what it would be like. During the the fight I had fun and after it my legs were in pain but I knew it was what I wanted to do. Anyway as I said before, in the last 5 years the number of farang who start very young grew exponentially. Now my father is set to create a team of foreigners fighting in Thailand called in fact Muay Farang and try to lead a group of other very young fighters to follow my footsteps and maybe do even better! Of course I will always try to be on top of the team. I’m happy to see my teammates succeed, for example Ginga, his level is growing very well and I’m sure it will honour the team in the 70 Kgs.
Why the recent move from Pattaya to Bangkok?
Bangkok is the heart of Muay Thai I would say, it’s convenient for fighting every month at Lumpinee and of course another reason is the amount of high level Thais to train with, that is how you get better fast. Even if, my dream is to train in a beach front camp and in the middle of nature and I hope this dream will come true, but not now. Right now the dream is to enter the ranking of Lumpinee!
What has the difference been between fighting in Pattaya and fighting in Bangkok?
There are important events in Pattaya as well, for example Kem vs Yodsaenklai that happened last month but generally Pattaya is very useful for experience. Most of the time there is no weigh-in and you get matched up with opponents of any kind and style. A very important step for everyone to build up experience.
Bangkok for me is Lumpinee and it’s the stadium where I feel more comfortable, everything is perfect, precise timings, very strict check weight and everyone has the same “weapons” and opportunities: same water, same distance from your corner man, only one coach can go and talk to the fighters during the brakes. In sum, it’s all organized to make really the best fighter win and since I love organization and order I love Lumpinee 🙂 .
Who has been your most challenging opponent?
I got asked this question before and I replied Leonard Nganga in 2009 which ended up as a draw. Right now I would say Yukiya Nakamura last November, the fight was very challenging as in the end of round 3 I was losing badly but somehow managed to come back in round 4 and 5 and win the fight.
I haven’t been able to find a video of your WBC title match against Van Chan Seth. Can you tell us about your opponent and the fight?
The video will soon be published by the promoter, I am waiting for it too. The Cambodian was very determined to win because he was nearly at home and he had a big cheering audience. In fact, even if Koh Chang is in Thailand it has so many Cambodian staff since it’s so close. Honestly, I found the fight easier than fighting Thais or for example Nakmaura in 2012 at Lumpinee. I could control the fight all the rounds, simply because the experience, the level and the type of training is different, but still he was very strong and he gave a very good fight.
Any advice for people who want to fight in Thailand?
Fighting in Thailand is the best experience that a Nak Muay can ask for. Even though you need to be prepared and taught the Thai scoring methods, otherwise you risk to lose your fights without knowing the reason. Trusting the help of professionals who live here is the best thing, and MuayFarang.com does this. Manages, as well, young fighters that are not part of the team. There are different camps that offer a good training for foreigners and help them to fight with opponents of their level. Therefore, choosing the right training camp is fundamental to make this experience really formative and fun. Anyone can write to Muayfarang@gmail.com to get any kind of suggestions, my father, me and the rest of them team will be pleased to share our experience.
In an upcoming interview on MBSB, Roberto Gallo Cassarino of Muay Farang will discuss being a foreign fighter in Thailand and what that means regarding managing and promoting your career.
Check out Mathias’ blog here.
Mathias’ WBC muay thai title fight against Van Chan Seth is now available: