Thomas 'Tom Yum' Learning his Life at Kobra Gym Koh Phangan

12 Feb 2021

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Warm and kind Thomas has been a regular at Kobra Gym for four years now, they call him ‘Tom Yum’. In his native home of Denmark his nickname is ‘Soup’ so of course in Thailand their soup is Tom Yum, hence the name!

Tom Yum has a true genuine love for Kobra Muay Thai Gym and trainer Kob himself also, we sat down with him to find out more…

So tell us your Koh Phangan story…
The first time I had actually planned a twenty day holiday with my friend Anders who is an old mate of Kob’s. We were supposed to go somewhere else but it ended up being much cheaper to come and Anders wanted to show me the place even though he finds it very hard to leave.

Anders has known Kob for fourteen years, they met when he was selling accessories on the beach. Kob used to do this also to make a living for his family then slowly they have built up this gym!

So I came here and they were so hospitable and treated me as part of the family, I had the twenty best days of my life!

I was even crying on the pier when I had to leave, my brain just couldn’t think of how easy it would be to get back here. This was March 2013 and I came back in July 2013, it was easy to get back! I was missing it so much and since then I have come every summer for between four and seven weeks.

Was it Kob who got you into Muay Thai?
Yes it was. It’s his way of treating people, his kindness and way of respect in martial arts.

He is a great inspiration, the kindest person I have known in my life. He is a very true friend, my mentor and trainer but is teaching me so much, such a decent person and such a pure heart in a way.

I do a bit of boot camp when I’m here as I tend to gain weight when I’m not here ha-ha. But now I have lost 3.5 kilos in two weeks. I’ve made an arrangement to lose 12 kilos in one year and then come back to Kobra and have a fight. I will be forty four then so it will be my first and last but I want to do it for him and myself, to pay respect back.

How has Muay Thai changed your life?
This is a very good question. I don’t know if Muay Thai itself has changed me, sport can do it and also the place. Part of Muay Thai is respect, to notice the little things and to be more minimal, to notice the more simple things.

It’s nothing about wanting a new car or computer, I can settle down with what I have got.

So tell us about training here at Kobra…
It’s a fantastic workout, you will be so tired and happy with yourself. Here at Kobra, at the end we do a meditation with relaxed music, this is what I think is special. One thing is that it is just a game, we are not here to hurt each other, we are playing with each other.

We dance with each other, sweat with each other and touch with each other and you make such good friends. In even Africa and Nigeria, there’s a bed for me if I go.

You come here and you leave your everyday problems outside, in here you are in Kob’s hands and trust. Whether you are famous or you sweep the streets, we are all the same. Kob is so friendly and hospitable, it spreads like a virus. It has changed my life but it is exactly this gym and of course the place of Koh Phangan.

What do you enjoy about the island?
I consider myself a Phanganist, it’s the only place I holiday now. I eat a lot of good food, local and western. I got to beautiful beaches and I did a dive course and made good friends with a guy there who is also an ex student of Kob’s.

I love the wildlife, I’m afraid of snakes and spiders but also fascinated by them! I’m a forester so this place is amazing for the trees, you can be on the beach, in the trees, in a bar for sunset, all the corners of the island in one day. The island is not too big or not too small, I don’t get cabin fever here.

I keep on discovering things to do, there are constantly things and so many activities to try, Kitesurfing is definitely on the list for me!

Also all of my tattoos I have got in this gym, they are all Thai tattoos with tigers on my back. I would only have Thai tattoos now, when I look at them it reminds me about the smaller things in life.

And leave us with your life philosophy…
In that way Kob was my mentor, it’s about respect, treat people the way you want to be treated yourself.

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