Kru Yai Mikey Perez

What started as an event in my life where I wanted to erase what I felt and ensure the people I loved would never experience as well, spearheaded my future and ultimately Southside Muay Thai Academy. Being smaller than the other children growing up, I experienced bullying like most kids, unfortunately, endure as well. But one incident really stayed with me. I was seven years old at the time and while walking home from school three kids targeted me and beat me up. My father, a Karate master from the Philippines, instilled the basics of martial arts as a way to empower me. It’s this principle of empowering others and lifting them up that makes up much of my core values today.

My journey in martial arts started young. I learned many forms and eventually began practicing the art of Muay Thai. I had to adjust styles and learn new techniques. After many years of practicing my coach felt the natural progression was to compete and test my skills. My first match was at 15 years old against a much bigger opponent who outweighed me by nearly 25 pounds. I won the match and experienced a thousand emotions at once. My drive to train was rooted in so many feelings to begin with - protection of not only myself but the people I loved, feeling empowered and knowing the benefits of sacrifice. I was in the gym any chance I could be and naturally, that means sacrificing something. In everything we chose to do in life, there is an opportunity cost - every minute you spend on something is a minute you didn’t spend on something else. So you have to ask yourself at every juncture in your life “is this worth it?”.

Naturally, I didn’t stop competing and eventually, after only 10 amateur fights I secured a place on the biggest stage for amateur muay thai at the IFMA World Championships in 2009. A world tournament for the best of the best. To describe me as an underdog is truly an understatement. I had four matches that week and my opponents had well over 50 fights each. I even broke my nose in one match but I pushed through and came out with a gold medal. What I felt was truly indescribable. I really can’t put it into words. What started as a journey of passing on my knowledge so that no one would ever feel what I did that day when those kids beat me up suddenly changed drastically into wanting others to feel what I felt winning on the highest stage. And this still drives me today.

mikey perez muay thai

Southside Muay Thai is a home, a community, and safe space for people to feel empowered, confident and if you choose to, where you can become a champion.

So I have to go back to that question “is this worth it?”. Creating nearly a hundred champions from the ground up, creating a truly safe space for people to express themselves and building a community of people who otherwise wouldn’t cross paths with one another and call each other family, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is all worth it. It’s worth every ache, pain, blood, sweat, and tears to give someone else something so real.

Khap Khun Kha
Kru Yai Mikey Perez






When you walk through the doors at Southside Muay Thai you are respected and part of something. Whether you are training recreationally or plan to one day compete we rise and fall together.

Fighting and competition can’t be possible without a team. You may be the only one standing in the ring when the bell rings but your team prepared you and it’s your team that will be there cheering you on.

There is no judgement when you walk through our doors. It’s a safe space to learn a sport that will undoubtedly build self confidence through discipline & hard work.

Southside Muay Thai is safe space for everything to participate. We train collectively in group classes and as we learn we pass on our knowledge as we welcome new members each and every single day.