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A family of blood and sweat

Marco Sacco | Bari, Italy

Valeriano is training with his athletic trainer Gargano.

In Bari, in the historic gym Kanku Dai, the master Renzo Tagliente has taught hundreds of young people this noble art. His passion has deep roots in the '90s.
It is known as "the science of eight limbs" because allows to use combinations of punches, kicks, elbows and knees and clinch techniques. Muay Thai - มวยไทย - is a full contact combat sport originates from Mae Mai Muay Thai (Muay Boran). The fascination of this sport is represented by the infinite possibilities of attack, a mix of modern and wise techniques.

It is known as "the science of eight limbs" because allows to use combinations of punches, kicks, elbows and knees and clinch techniques. Muay Thai - มวยไทย - is a full contact combat sport originates from Mae Mai Muay Thai (Muay Boran). The fascination of this sport is represented by the infinite possibilities of attack, a mix of modern and wise techniques.

Despite the rapid spread in recent years, some of the most talented athletes in Italy have begun to practice it in very difficult times. In Bari, in the historic gym Kanku Dai, the master Renzo Tagliente has taught hundreds of young people this noble art. His passion has deep roots in the '90s. The exotic charm of oriental martial art, known only to very few admirers, took him away from the comforts of a quiet life: «I spent sacrifices and money to specialize in this sport, [...] my teacher he was in Rome and I was forced to travel almost every week». Despite family and work he never gave up (including a marital crisis - but resolved). But it is only “boxing” with difficulties, facing them head on, going towards them without running away, almost like his life is always lived on the ring, it could afford to build a team that bears his name.

His dedication, together with the care put in the athletes, gave birth to a team that includes talented fighter as Claudio Amoruso, Andrea Valeriano and Lorenzo Cascella and new young talent. Renzo Tagliente is not only “the instructor”, but the master in the broadest sense of the term. In a world, that of combat sports, where the spectacle is extreme, based solely on the “offensive” feature of the martial art, the Bari school has been able to overcome this superficial view of Muay Thai proving its worth on the field. Claudio Amoruso, current Italian and European professional champion, whose career has taken him to «fight opponents who first have watched on YouTube» as he mentions, started under the aegis of the master Renzo. Despite 10 years lived in between Italy and Thailand, his return at home is enshrined by the entrance in the gym in the heart of the city.

With some problems at school and as bully of the neighborhood, Amoruso, has found its balance 13 years ago between the ropes. The passion has taken him very young in Thailand, where amid big difficulty is managed to get a position in the impenetrable top Thai fighters panorama. The farang (the western foreigner) is now under contract for one of the most influential gyms.

The tenacity of Amoruso is definitely an inherent quality, but it is reasonable to assume that the support of the master in the early years of his career has been decisive. Fighting alone in a foreign land, where on the quadrilateral you're just an unwanted guest, is not for everyone. At ringside there wasn't Renzo, but a though  was turned to him. This life experience has been key to his professional growth: «There isn't Muay Thai without sacrifice and determination. It is a sport that comes powerfully in your life and conditions everything». Amoruso also claims, «My life is intertwined with the sport; without this sport I would not be what they are now». In continuity with this thought, together with the bond with his hometown, Bari, he have founded the a kombat sport center – CSC – with the support of Renzo master and his fighter friend Andrea.

There is the charm of the perseverance of the master Renzo Tagliente, there is a mixture of sacrifice and dogged determination in Claudio Amoruso, Andrea Valeriano and Lorenzo Cascella. A history of blood and sweat that rests on passion, friendship, respect. I saw them help each other in the gym, share the same pizza with beaten opponent just before on the ring, look to the master as a father.

Despite the competitive commitments, Amoruso shares his experience with the other fighters as sparring partner in the ring. Among them there is the young Andrea Valeriano, whose career is the result of a synergy between the master and the Italian champion. It was precisely the latter to stimulate the young Andrea to believe in his potential.

In fact, after a stop of one year, Andrea was back in what he calls «second family». Reached the awareness of the objectives to be achieved, the return has sanctioned a lifestyle choice: to devote all his energies to Muay Thai. Currently he is among the most talented Italian boxers occupied in the international rings and holds the 57kg professional title, won in his home in Bari, on 30th April 2017 at Power Of Muay Thai 5. On the same day, Lorenzo Cascella won by ko at the first round.

«During battle everything can change at any moment. It's like playing chess. A missed shot is likely to jeopardize everything that has been done up to that point» as well Amoruso says, also Cascella and Valeriano share this view. Enter in the ring is never easy, it's a mix of powerful emotions: fear of failure, courage, desire to win. The tension is very high since the first preparatory moment in the locker room. The time grows short between the massages made with camphor oil and the advice of companions; in the widespread balsamic flavor, characteristic of the places where  Muay Thai is practiced, begin the rituals of the fighter ready to enter the ring. The master and the fighter dedicate the last few minutes to the mental concentration, a necessary condition to achieve balance before tackling the opponent. In the same minute the master ties the Mongkhol and Prajiat, traditional propitiatory amulets. From this point on is an escalation of emotions: take the corridor leading to the ring, dance the ritual of the Wai Kru. And then just the match.

Renzo, the first to share joys and sorrows, always ready to pick up the satisfaction of having made "his boys"; satisfaction that exceeds every outcome, developed day after day between the necessary beatings for a rigorous training of each athlete.

The shouts succeed in the corner. The closest companions share that space with Renzo. On 1st May 2016 Amoruso has defended the Italian title for the umpteenth time, during the main event of the Power Of Muay Thai 4. And again, on the same day Cascella won by knockout in the second round and Valeriano was the author of a victory after 5 tough rounds. All present, in the same moments, with different roles. All present as a family.

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