March 16, 2023

Thom Harinck "The Godfather of Muay Thai in the West", is the founder of the famous Chakuriki gym. Harinck is considered one of the greatest Thai boxing coaches in history. He is credited with revolutionising the sport and producing some of the world's most successful kick and Thai boxers. His methods, discipline, and dedication to his craft have earned him legendary status in the kickboxing & Muay Thai community.

For those of you playing catch up, Harinck has trained numerous world champions. Most famously Ramon Dekkers, the first non Thai fighter to be crowned "Thai Boxer of the Year" in Thailand. Harinck's other champions include Peter Aerts, Branko Cikatić, Jérôme Le Banner, Badr Hari and Hesdy Gerges. And that isn't even the whole list. 


Harinck started training in judo and wrestling at 8 years old, later turning to savate and boxing whilst serving in the Dutch Army. Harinck isn't just the founder of a gym, he founded several Kick & Thai boxing associations, including the WMTA (World Muay Thai Association), which is one of the oldest professional sanctioning bodies for Muay Thai. Harinck is also one of the first non-Thais to receive recognition as a Muay Thai master coach in Thailand.

It is in Thailand that Harinck really cut his teeth. There, on his first trip to Thailand he brought out his best fighters. They all quickly experienced the brutal reality of the sport and all of Harincks' fighters suffered knockout losses to local Thai fighters.

Despite these setbacks, Harinck saw the brutal reality of Muay Thai and returned to the Netherlands with a renewed sense of purpose. He began to develop his unique approach to Muay Thai, which emphasized mental and emotional toughness, technical proficiency, and physical conditioning. These values became the cornerstones of his coaching philosophy and the foundation for the success he would achieve in the years to come.


Ramon Dekkers is one of the most celebrated fighters to come out of Thom Harinck's Chakuriki gym. Known for his aggressive style and devastating power, Dekkers quickly established himself as one of the most feared fighters in the sport of kickboxing.

Dekkers' success in the ring can be attributed to several factors. First, his physical attributes were ideally suited to the sport of kickboxing. He was tall and muscular, with long arms and powerful legs that allowed him to deliver devastating strikes from a distance.

However, it was Dekkers' mental and emotional toughness that truly set him apart from other fighters. Under Harinck's guidance, Dekkers developed a fierce competitive spirit and an unwavering determination to win. He was known for his ability to push through pain and exhaustion and maintain his focus and intensity throughout a fight.

In addition to his physical and mental attributes, Dekkers was also a technical fighter who had mastered the fundamentals of the sport. He was a master of the low kick, a devastating technique that he used to wear down his opponents over the course of a fight. He also had a powerful left hook and a vicious knee strike that he could deliver from close range.

Dekkers' success in the ring made him a fan favorite, and his popularity only grew as he continued to dominate his opponents. He won six world championships during his career and defeated some of the best fighters in the sport, including Muay Thai legend Coban Lookchaomaesaitong.

Dekkers' legacy as one of the greatest kickboxers of all time is a testament to Thom Harinck's coaching methods and the Chakuriki gym's approach to training. Harinck's emphasis on mental and emotional toughness, technical proficiency, and physical conditioning helped turn Dekkers into a champion and a legend in the sport of kickboxing.


Peter Aerts is another notable fighter who trained under Thom Harinck and went on to achieve great success in the sport of Muay Thai. Aerts, also known as "The Lumberjack," was a three-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion and considered one of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers of all time.

Under Harinck's guidance, Aerts developed a devastating low kick, which became his signature move and helped him win many of his fights. Aerts was known for his toughness and fighting spirit, which were traits that were emphasized by Harinck in his coaching.

Aerts and Harinck had a close relationship, and the fighter once referred to Harinck as his "father in fighting." Harinck played a crucial role in Aerts' success, and the fighter has spoken fondly of the impact that Harinck had on his career.

Together, Harinck and Aerts helped elevate the sport of Muay Thai and kickboxing to new heights. Their success in the ring and their contributions to the sport will always be remembered as a testament to the enduring legacy of Thom Harinck and the Chakuriki gym.


Harinck's approach to coaching was not limited to physical training alone. He also emphasized the importance of mental preparation and emotional resilience. According to him, a fighter's success in the ring was not just determined by their physical abilities, but also by their mental and emotional state.

To help his fighters develop mental toughness, Harinck would often use unorthodox training methods. For example, he would have his fighters meditate while sitting in an ice bath or make them stand in a cold shower while reciting positive affirmations. These practices were designed to help his fighters develop a strong mental attitude and the ability to perform under pressure.

In addition to mental training, Harinck also placed a great emphasis on physical conditioning. He believed that in order to be successful in Muay Thai, a fighter needed to be in top physical condition. To achieve this, he would have his fighters engage in grueling training sessions that would push them to their limits. These sessions often included high-intensity interval training, sparring sessions, and strength training exercises.

Harinck's contributions to the sport of Muay Thai extend beyond just coaching and training fighters. He was also responsible for introducing the sport to the Netherlands and helping it gain popularity there. He organized some of the earliest Muay Thai events in the Netherlands, which attracted a lot of attention and helped raise the profile of the sport.


Harinck's impact on the sport of Muay Thai is undeniable, and his legacy will continue to inspire fighters and coaches for generations to come. He passed away on October 17, 2020, but his influence on the sport will always be remembered. The Chakuriki gym still operates today and continues to produce successful Muay Thai fighters, a testament to the enduring legacy of Thom Harinck and his unique coaching methods.

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