INTERVIEW OF OMAR BENAMAR by SERGE TREFEU (2011)

 

Serge TREFEU: Hello Omar, before speaking of your career as trainer recognized for a long time in the world of muay thai, speak about your past of fighter. You can tell us how you discovered the boxing?

OMAR BENAMAR: Hello, at first I began with the karate, I was belt black of karate, then I wanted to make a sport with more of contacts, in particular on a boxing ring, thus I have make of the Boxing, a sport moreover where I remained unconquered. Then in 1977 there is Roger Paschy who opened a gym of Thai Boxing, I was to join at once his gym, I make parties of the pioneers of the Thai Boxing in France…

You began thus the Thai Boxing in Roger Paschy's Gym, in 1977 it was really the beginning of the Thai Boxing in France?

Yes it was in Yamatsuki Gym in Paris in the 11th district. There were all my friends, Daniel Allouche, Kouider Abdelmoumeni, Jami Mohamed, the brothers Desjardins, Jean Luc Legouez, Christian Bafir, Gilles Tirolien, we were one heck team!

You grew in city of Courneuve in suburb of Paris, Muay Thai was known at your time in your district?

Not of the whole, this sport was not known in France, except for Roger Paschy and regretted Patrick Brizon who had took a European belt in Holland, nobody knew the Thai Boxing, but we became known our sport…

You remember how many fights you made in Thai Boxing?

I made many, I do not remember any more exactly how much, but yes I have it make many…

What are the titles which you gained?

I was a France and Europe champion of Thai Boxing. The championship of France I gained him in 1988 against Abdel Ferrera, a boy from Clermont-Ferrand. In 1989 I fought for the championship of Europe against the Dutchman Orlando Wiet (World champion of Thai Boxing, World champion of Kickboxing), I lost in points, then I fought against a Belgian, which I do not remember any more the name, and I gained the championship of Europe!

What are the champions whom you faced?

I fought the Dutch Rick Van Den Vathorst (World champion of Kickboxing), very hardly in the time, I beat him in points, I met Orlando Wiet, I fought a very strong Thai, it made party of a team of Thai which had made the travel to face the boys of the Yamatsuki Gym, and I won against this thai by KO at the first round, I have make a lot of fights…

In the 80s in Thai Boxing, what were the French and foreign champions who were the most known in the circuit?

In France there was Kouider Abdelmoumeni, Christian Bafir, Jami Mohamed, René Desjardin, Jean Luc Legouez and your servant…

For Dutch there was Lucien Carbin, André Brilleman, Milo El Geubli, there was also Fred Royers but he fought more in Kick Boxing than in Thai Boxing, moreover Christian Bafir met him twice…

You trained with Christian Bafir (3 times Europe Champion), you often trained with him?

Yes of course, Christian it is a childhood friend, we began the karate together and one it is registered the same day at Roger Paschy Gym!

You grew in the same district?

Not Christian is of city of Drancy and I lived in the district in 4000 in city of Courneuve but we trained in the same gym in karate…

What was your hardest fight in your career?

Against a Dutch which was called Hide, I dominated him practically in all the rounds but impossible "to shoot down" him, it was very hard, I ended this fight exhausted…

Your fighter's best memory?

My victory on Rick Van Den Vathorst because it was a reference to the time, in more when I fought him, I was 67 kg and he weighed 73 kg with 1m88, it was heavier and bigger that me, it is a beautiful memory my victory in front of him!

what is what there are boxers who influenced your boxing, by whom you were inspired, whom you liked seeing boxing?

In our time it was rather Dutch fighter because Thai they did not still come in France, I would say the Dutch Andre Brilleman…

In what year you left for Thailand for the first time, what is that you are trained and you fought over there?

In 1980 I was in the camp Sityodtong to Pattaya, later I also went me trained to Jocky Gym, I trained often but I have never had the opportunity to fight in Thailand…

What do you think of Thai fighters?

They are very hardly, very technical and I think that the best at the moment it is Buakaw, the best Thai that I saw because he is really complete!

For you which difference there was between the French fighters of your time and those current?

I think that the boxers from now on are much more technical than we in our time, they are lucky that us, the formers, we learnt well the Thai Boxing thanks to seminar in Thailand, then have was able to teach the truth Thai Boxing, while in our time it was rather a mixture of Kick Boxing and thai Boxing, there was not many clinch. But we had the spite, it was often fights "hastily", it was fights "to you, to me ", now it is fights more "fimeuu", more technical…

After your fighter's career you go up your own gym, you can speak to us about your debuts as to trainer?

At the beginning I already trained a little in city of Courneuve, in district of 4000, I gave lessons to the young people of the district, I showed them that it was the Thai Boxing and that allowed them to see the other horizons. Then I really wanted to go into the teaching, I found a gym to Stains (93) that I have called the Nemrod…

Why this name Nemrod?

It is the name which came to me as it, an idea, I believe that this name was the one of prince Arabic, and it is the name in the final that my bring luck…

You quickly became a trainer recognized in the world of the Thai Boxing, what was your motivation during these long years the passion for this sport?

Yes the passion of this sport which I like enormously, I discovered many countries, the other cultures and people very, very interesting thanks to this sport. But I wanted to make discover Muay Thai to the young people of the discriminated districts, their shown that we could come through by means of the sport, there is only the sport, there is a school of course, but by means of this sport, a Muay Thai, they could come through…

With the Muay Thai it was a means to make them discover the other thing than the universe of their district?

Exactly, there is the others thing, the other universes to discover that their district…

You formed a legend of Muay Thai, Danny Bill (8 times World champion of Thai Boxing), can you tell us how it is crossed your meeting?

When I taught in city of Stains, Danny came to the gym, he was 13 years old, there were already champions like Farouk Boudar, Farid Kenniche, Jean Philippe Lagrand, thus Danny it is trained with them and he was very gift…

You quickly saw that there was something great to make with this young person?

Yes I saw at once when he trained that there was something of indeed to make with him, technically he had something that many boxer not, in more he understood and learnt very fast, all that I taught him he assimilated him very fast…

What are the strong moments when you lived with him?

There was a lot but I would say his first fight professional, he had only 9 fights and he replaced at a moment’s notice his friend Jean Philippe Lagrand who it was hurt, he had to fight a Thai which was called Samarth Galaxy Gym, a Thai which had 144 fights. I put Danny Bill by knowing very well that it was capable of beating him, a lot of people said to me that it was still too young but I knew that Danny could make something great. Danny had only 18 years old and 9 fights and Samarth opposite had 144 fights, and Danny gave a lesson of Thai boxing to this Thai champion, he beat him in points. This fight was broadcast on the television on channel TF1, it is a very big memory because it surprised everybody!

And in Thailand what are best wishes that you had with him?

A great moment, was for his first world title. One evening we contacted me of Thailand, there was Den Muangsurin (Lumpinee Champion, World Champion), a great champion, who had to put back his world title in game, his opponent was hurt, thus we asked me if I could send Danny for this world championship. It was in 1993, I sent Danny, at a moment’s notice, he arrived in the morning in Thailand, he fought in the evening for the world title, and he beat Den Muangsurin!

The machine was to go into, Danny began his great career?

Exactly, the phenomenon Danny Bill began…

Several other great champions were also formed by you, such as Farid Kenniche, Jean Philippe Lagrand, Farouk Boudar, Jérémie Charlet, Gregory Choplin, can you say to us about it more on these champions?

Farid Kenniche it is a boy who increased in the district of 4000, as I was known in the district he came to join at once my gym, Farid became three times a champion of France, three times Champion of Europe and three times World champion of Thai Boxing, he makes everything by three (laughter). I also formed Farouk Boudar who was a champion of France, Champion of Europe and World champion of Thai Boxing, he was of city of Stains. I also formed Gregory Choplin (World champion Thai Boxing, France Champion Thai Boxing), Moussa Sissoko (World Champion Thai Boxing,  Europe champion Thai Boxing), Yassine Benhadj (Europe Champion Thai Boxing, France champion Thai Boxing), Mohamed Bourkhis (France Champion Thai Boxing), Jean Philippe Lagrand who was Champion of France and Europe of Thai Boxing, he also took a championship of the World in Kick Boxing, Jérémie Charlet (Europe Champion Thai Boxing) a very good technician, a fimeuu, he fought as thais.

I boosted the career of Khaled Hebieb (3 times World Champion Thai Boxing, 3 times Europe Champion Thai Boxing, 4 times France Champion Thai Boxing, World Champion Kick Boxing), a great champion, he stayed 3 years with me. I have trained Abdel El Quandilli (15 championships of the World in Kick Boxing and Full-contact) for its revenge against Sébastien Farina (World champion Kick Boxing, World champion Savate Boxing) because he had fallen KO during their first meeting, thus it came to see me so that I the trained so that he takes his revenge, I have him trained during 3 months, he took his revenge in Marseille, I was in his corner moreover, he gained by KO in sixth rounds!

What is your secret to have formed so much champion?

The passion of Muay, I make that with the heart and guts, I like that…

What big memory you keep as coach with your fighters?

There were many of the big memory, I had practically that big memories, we were as a big family, there was a lot of respect for my part to the boxers and the boxers to me, I think that the secret he is there also, it is the respect and the trust which they had in me. Moreover it is Abdel El Quandilli who had nicknamed me " The Magician " because as says it to me all my pupils, I always manage to say that are needed in the corner, to speak to them, in they reassured, they enormously trusted me. When I made them rise on a boxing ring, they knew very well that if I made them face this opponent, they had a lot, a lot of luck to gain, they were prepared physically and psychologically. During the fight, in the corner, I knew how to say good words at the right time…

What are for you the European and Thai champions who are etch for ever in the story of Muay Thai?

We cannot speak about European champion without speaking about the "Diamond" about Ramon Dekkers and of the great champion Rob Kaman. But also Lucien Carbin, André Brilleman, Milo El Geubli and Fred Royers. For me it was the best, they had around ten years beforehand on us. For French, of course Stephan Nikiéma, Dida Diafat, Mourad Sari, Khaled Hebieb, Moustapha Benatia, Jaid Seddak and Jean Charles Skarbowsky, as well as Guillaume Kerner two very great champions but also all those that I quoted before, Danny Bill, Farid Kenniche, Jean Philippe Lagrand, Farouk Boudar. Abdel El Quandilli who was an enormous champion in Kick Boxing. But there was a lot, I forget it, I hope not to hurt those that I forgot…

For Thai I would say the legend Pud Pad Noi, Samart Payakaroon, Attapong, the one that French knew well, Somsong, but there is so, I cannot all quote them. But at present for me the best it is Buakaw…

And today what are the French champions whom you estimate?

I like very much Fabio Pinca, it is a boy who is generous on the boxing ring, very technical, he has a clean boxing, it is by far the best at present. I also like the small Turkish Yetkin Ozgul, it is very strong, a good boxer…

What is your opinion on Muay Thai practised today in France?

I find that the level in lowered, maybe because there are less of competitions, but I find frankly that the level in lowered, in the 90s we were past in front of Dutch and now Dutch are come back in front of us, it is that there is a reason…

You think because of what, because there are fewer fights than in the 90s?

Yes I think that there are fewer fights, I find that French make fewer results with regard to Dutch…

How do you see the future of Muay Thai in France?

Now it looks like o get going again, we have a new president in the FFSCDA federation, Anthony Elkaim, I spoke with him and I have the impression that he wants to make many thing for the Muay Thai, he looks of liked enormously the Muay thai and I think that it can be only beneficial…

Can you say yourself according to you are what the essential qualities that has to have a good fighter in Thai Boxing?

At first a good technical luggage, then it is necessary to suffer in the gym not to suffer on the boxing ring, a lot, a lot of training!

What advice you would give to a small young person who wishes to make a career in the Thai Boxing?

Already to choose a good professor, because there is very regrettably which choose professors who are not very competent. The teaching it is essential, it is necessary to go to somebody who knows the Muay Thai, who likes the Muay Thai. Then it has to be diligent in the gym, much seriousness, if to want to go far…

A very beautiful report was shot on you with one of your young pupils whom you took for the first time in Thailand, you remember this report where have him sees moreover two great champions Danny Bill and Stephan Nikiéma, which strong moments you keep of this adventure?

I remember very well this report in Thailand with Daniel Chemmi, the small boxer, I was very touched by his reaction and its delight when he openly for the first time the Thailand, the country of Muay Thai…

You train again today?

Yes I start again this year, I had stopped during many year. I have a lot of demand, a lot of people sought me, as the Muay Thai it is in me, I like that, thus I decided to open again a gym. I am going to teach in district of Island St Denis with two of my former pupil, Jean Philippe Lagrand and Miguel Ozier-La Fontaine. There will be also in my side my son Jibril who at the age of 22, he knows the Muay Thai since he is children, he practises this sport for a long time already. I also have another son, Ilyes, who in 13 years who begins to fight, and I can assure you, we shall talk again of it, that is going to be a great boxer…

What are your projects for 2011?

We take the plunge our gym in 2011. Then we are going to make everything to boost the Thai Boxing in France with all the professors in France, there is good professors in France, for my part at my level I am going to try "to booster " the Thai Boxing, to form champions, I think that it is possible. I have just made a seminar of Muay Thai in the Luxembourg and technically it in pleased enormously. And I know that the technique it is in me, I know how to pass on her, I like teaching my knowledge to those who want him…

What is the name of the gym and the address?

The NEMROD BOXING

Street Arnold Geraux

Island-Saint-Denis 93

You want to add anything?

Already thank you and thank your magazine Siamfightmag for all what you make for the Thai Boxing, more we are going to speak about the Thai Boxing better it will be for us, and it gives a good image of the Thai Boxing, it is important. I would like to thank friends, Alim Zaidi and Alexandra Amont, who motivated me to come back in Thai boxing, I thank them for the bottom of the heart. I thank Alain Kricka and Gabriel Hennion from Hennion Gym for the seminar which I have make in the Luxembourg, I was welcomed by people extraordinary, everything it is crossed well, it is people who have the passion of Muay Thai, it sees itself and to meet people like that it is very enriching…

Thank you very much to have answered this interview and Chookdee for your Gym!

Khop Khoun Khrap (thank you)!

 

Omar Benamar, "The Magician" marked the story of Muay Thai as to trainer. Thanks to him, phenomenal Danny Bill became a legend of boxing rings.

He was also a high-level referee, he arbitrated great fights as Samart Payakaroon vs Paul Lenehan, Kerner vs Krongsak, Ramon Dekkers vs Joel Cesar, Rob Kaman vs Lavelle Robinson …

This fascinated man, pionner of the Thai Boxing in France, also formed French champions who are classified among the best technicians of the Thai boxing in the France. Such as, Farid Kenniche, Jean Philippe Lagrand, Farouk Boudar, Jérémie Charlet, Gregory Choplin, Moussa Sissoko, Yassine Benhadj and Mohamed Bourkhis, they were all shaped by Master's Benamar which made it great champions. Omar Benamar has this gift to unearth the rare pearl and to bring him to the highest level to make a great champion, rare is trainer capable of forming so many great champions. Today, the trainer Nasser Kacem from Team St Fons (Pinca, Lidon, Mabel, Benoui, Piscitelo) makes left those there with the impressive number of champions whom he formed. In the 90s, there was also the brother Desjardins of the Derek Boxing who formed great champions. But Omar Benamar was really one of best trainers of time. The talented Omar Benamar takes back the paos and it is a good thing for the Thai Boxing in France, the "Magician" is back!