Timo RUGE, the man behind MuayTies
By Julien LANCHAS , Monday November 21, 2016
You undoubtedly know MuayTies, the favorite YouTube channel of muaythai enthusiasts. The man behind these videos is Timo RUGE a german journalist. Here is his interview.
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My name is Timo RUGE, I am almost 40 years old and originally from Germany. I have been living in Thailand for 15 years now and am married with a Thai, we have a 4 year old son.
How everything started ? How did you decide to create MuayTies ?
I started my career as a sports journalist about 20 years ago in Germany, at a local tv station. I mainly reported on football, ice hockey and professional boxing. At that job i learned to film, edit and create stories. The title of the job was VJ (Videojournalist). Being trained to do all aspects of this kind of work by myself, still helps me until today.
Once i got to Thailand, i did a few internships and jobs at "News agencies" and was mainly involved in writing. Video work, though, always stayed my passion and something i wanted to end up doing.
I then met my wife and her mother is the "editor in chief" of "champ boxing magazine" (2nd biggest Muay Thai magazine in Thailand) and the whole family is deeply involved in "muay thai" journalism. I felt that my background in sports journalism and camera work could be an interesting factor to try to add to the family business!
It was through my mother in law, that i gained access to Lumpini and Rajadamnern stadium. I now would go watch "live" fights, every day and started to fall in love with the sport. At home i would watch countless fights on youtube, to quickly learn more about everything on "Muay Thai". Watching fights and training footage available almost became an obsession. I still, to this day, would not dare to call myself an expert, but i keep learning and try to improve my knowledge of the sport on a daily basis.
The idea of filming the fights came through the realisation, that there was not enough exposure for "stadium muay thai" and the "stars" of the stadiums. At the beginning i did not have a
space for my tripod in the stadiums and filmed the first few fights from ringside. I kept coming back, though and over time, i got accepted by the other camera crews and was able to film the fights from a good spot in the stadiums. That was the "real" beginning of MuayTies!
How do you film the fights ? What is your equipment ?
I use a "Sony HXR-NX5", which is a broadcast ready FULL HD camera and film the fights by myself. I think maybe it is time for a camera upgrade, but so far the camera has been a real "workhorse". I edit the fights by myself and upload them to youtube by myself. For interviews and background stories, i use a Canon 5D Mark III.
From the first fight you filmed to the latest one, how has Muay Ties evolved ?
It is of course a huge difference! From a "ringside fight video" to almost 40.000 subscribers. I had hope to reach people, otherwise I should not have started, but this kind of reaction to my work is still sometimes pretty unreal to me. I feel extremely humbled that i can bring the "stadium fights" to a broader audience and one thing has not changed from the beginning until now; is my love for the sport and my own excitement for all the fights i film. I also love to interact with muay thai fans from all over the world and am very thankful for the support! My work depends on the support of the muay thai community and this is what drives me to so, what i do.
Do you film in other stadiums ?
I have the permission to sometimes film at "Rangsit Stadium" and have filmed before on Koh Samui and other provinces, but Lumpini and Rajadamnern Stadium are and will remain my main focus.
You also film in Australia ?
Yes, it started with the promoter Sy Nadji, asking me if i could imagine the idea to come over to melbourne, to film "Rebellion Muay Thai". I didnt know much about the promotion, but learned that it is the best promotion over there and i found it interesting to travel there and film. For him is intreresting to feature his promotion on my channel and of course he pays me to work. We have now become good friends and have very interesting ideas for the future together. some projects we would like to do.
Do you earn money with your videos ?
Earning money from "Muay Thai Fight" videos on youtube is a myth. Even now with nearly 500.000 views per month, the income from that not even covers my internet and gas expenses. So, for the first 2,5 years i did this job out of my own pocket. I financed this "hobby" by working countless "filming and editing" jobs outside the muay thai business. For now a little over a year i got extremely fortunate to form two fantastic "partnerships". One with Chatri Sityodtong from "Evolve MMA" in Singapore and the other with Prem Busarabavonwongs from "Fairtex Muay Thai" in Pattaya. I am very grateful, as these deals ensured the survival of muayties. It still is a struggle at times, but i am very hopeful, that MuayTies maybe at some point can become a "full time" job.
What is the top 3 greatest fights you have ever filmed for MuayTies ?
Very difficult question ! With over 2000 filmed fights, from which almost 800 made it onto muayties, it is hard to pick the 3 best!
For a slightly older, classic fight, i would pick "Saenchai vs Kongsak" from 2013
For overall excitement and non-stop action there is no way around "Seksan vs Thanonchai"
For demonstration of pure technique and one of the best performances against another top fighter, "Sangmanee vs Seksan"
Who is your favourite fighter ?
Another hard one to answer! I feel very fortunate, to still have been able, to have filmed a good chunk of Saenchai fights. He is a living legend and surely one of the greats of all time.
Seksan Or. Kwanmuang cannot be disliked by any fight fan. Never in a dull fight, always 1000 % heart.
Sangmanee , though, is at the moment the full package for me. "Muay Fimeu" with lots of aggression too. He can out-maneuver almost any fighter, but also is not afraid to be a in a brawl. I would pick him as my current favourite.
What has been the most watched video of Muay Ties ?
Yodtongthai Kiatjaroenchai vs Saen Paranchai. Nearly 3 million views.It was a very bloody fight... but to be honest, far from the best fight. It was somewhat of a "perfect storm " as it was featured on tons of big Webpages.
No 2 is Pokkeaw vs Pornsanae which I feel is the better fight. Crazy round 2. This one has nearly 800.000 views.
Do you remember Live Muaythai Guy ? Do you have any connection with this guy/youtube channel ?
Of course, I remember him. When i started, I watched countless youtube fights and of course also some of the videos he posted. We chatted on facebook a few times, but no ,I do not personally know him or have any kind of connection to him.
Do you practice muay thai ?
Yes, i do train occasionally, when my time permits. 13 coins gym is just around the corner from our house. I am almost 40 years old now and am a father , so i have to manage time for my family and doing muayties all by myself also takes a lot of time, so i cant train very often, anymore.
Do you have projects fort the upcoming years/months ?
So many!! I see the huge support for my channel and facebook page as an obligation to do more for the fans. Deliver more background stories, fighter profiles and overall quality content about "stadium muay thai". There is still not enough exposure for the "stars" of the stadiums and i feel, that there is much more that i can help doing. I want to continue to try to find new ways to help promote the sport.
One thing is for sure though, muayties will always stay 100 % true to real Muay Thai!