Michael Regnier is the Head Muay Thai Trainer and owner of Pacific Ring Sports. He has 24 years of Martial Arts experience. Michael started at the age of ten, receiving black belts in five styles: Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Southern Kung Fu, Northern Kung Fu, and Wing Chung. He had several fights on ESPN2, and was the first American to be certified as a Fairtex trainer through Alex Gong and Michael’s trainer, Ganyao Fairtex. Looking to fight full Muay Thai rules with elbows and knees, he fought for B. John Promotions in the US, winning the California Cruiserweight Title. He also traveled to Thailand to live and fight. He went up to super heavy weight, to compete in the K-1. He has trained many Muay Thai fighters and UFC fighters such as Dean Lister and Brandon Vera. Michael is also Krav Magra certified.
Michael was born in upper Michigan. Michael’s love for the Martial Arts began when he took his first karate class. At age 10 he regretted that he hadn’t started any sooner. After getting his black belt, he began looking for another art that was less rigid and more practical. He began to study Tae Kwan Do until he received his black belt. However, he realized Tae Kwan Do wasn’t exactly what he was looking for either. He felt that he was fighting against his own body by using these styles. He then went on to study Kung Fu. His teacher was a San Shou Champion and had some knowledge of Muay Thai so Michael had some exposure to the art. But it wasn’t until several years later when he finally ‘found’ Muay Thai while practicing Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s system of martial arts). His teacher was Frank Cucci – a former Navy SEAL who studied Filipino Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Muay Thai. Michael immediately took to the Muay Thai class. He appreciated the fluidity, athleticism, and explosive power of the art. He felt that nothing in Muay Thai restricted that power, and above all – that the art was extremely practical.
At age 19, he decided that he wanted to devote his life to Muay Thai and travel to Thailand to learn authentic Muay Thai. He had read that a Fairtex camp from Thailand was opening up in San Francisco. Michael contacted the owner, Alex Gong, hoping to get information about training in Thailand. Alex convinced Michael stay in San Francisco since they already had trainersfrom Thailand that could provide him with excellent training. So Michael moved to San Francisco to work, live and train at the gym. Alex had him working not only as a trainer but also as a salesperson, an office person, and operating the Fairtex gear side of the business. Alex also had him fighting on ESPN2 within the first month. He would fight two more times on ESPN2 in less than a year. Michael continued competing for 11 years, which included training and fighting in Thailand.
When Alex’s best friend opened up a gym in San Diego, it was Alex who prompted Michael to help with the Muay Thai program. The Muay Thai program in San Diego was a huge success. Although he loved to teach, Michael had his own vision of running a gym and decided to do it for himself. Michael had learned a lot from previous gym owners and put his dues into training, fighting and teaching. Having worked and lived at the Fairtex gym in San Francisco, Michael got to see first hand how a Muay Thai gym was run from the very beginning. He found a partner in San Diego that would help him with all the business aspects of running the gym while he focused on operations. Together they saved up every last penny of their savings and put it into starting up the gym.
Alex’s death in 2003 was devastation to Michael and the entire Muay Thai community. “Alex had a major influence on my life and was a good friend and inspiration.”
Alex “F-14” Gong Tribute Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW4BbD65ZZU
October 14, 1970 – August 1, 2003