Thai boxing coach says there's no secret winning formula
Cuban coach insists there is no secret to a successful boxing programme
If you need proof that you don't need top-class facilities to groom a talented boxer, head down to Furama Riverfront Hotel's basement carpark.
There, every afternoon, you will find Cuban boxing coach Omar Puentes Malagon putting Thailand's national boxers through their paces as they prepare for competition at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
No heavy bags, no speed bags, no fancy gym equipment.
Just 40-year-old concrete walls and the asphalt ground.
That's all the Thai boxers need.
Singapore held their own in boxing in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Philippines have had creditable showings since first appearing at the SEA Games in 1977.
But the fighters from the Land of Smiles are the undisputed kings of the SEA Games.
According to Malagon, however, the Thais are not doing anything special.
"To be a top boxer, you just need two things," Malagon told The New Paper yesterday.
"Number one is discipline. Number two, a good boxing programme.
"In Thailand, many boxers come from the military or police, so they already have strong discipline.
"So then it depends on our boxing programme, and we have a good one."
The 57-year-old, who speaks fluent Thai, has been the nation's boxing coach for more than 10 years and helped groom six Olympic medallists, two of them champions.
Manus Boomjumnong became light-welterweight Olympic champion in 2004 and Somjit Jongjohor won gold in the flyweight category four years later.
Malagon insists that Singapore can also produce top boxing talent, despite the critics who say that its people are too comfortable and pampered to have the qualities needed to be a world-class fighter.
"No, no, no problem," said the raspy-voiced coach.
"It's better. It means your boxers are relaxed and they can focus on boxing and not have to worry about other things.
"Singapore already have some good boxers. I don't know much about the boxing programme here but I can see the potential."
The latest product off Thailand's conveyor belt of talent is reigning Asian champion Wuttichai Masuk.
The 25-year-old welterweight star shot to fame as a teenager, winning the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships, and then went on to win gold at the 2013 SEA Games, before defeating local favourite Lim Hyun Chul in the final at last year's Asian Games in South Korea.
Wuttichai was a picture of concentration at Furama Riverfront yesterday, throwing his hammer-like fists at Malagon's mitts with lightning speed.
The Buriram native, who serves in the Royal Thai Air Force, told TNP: "I used to train in Muay Thai..."
Malagon interrupted: "But his eyes were always on the boxing ring next door."
Wuttichai gave an embarrassed smile, and continued: "Yes, so I changed to boxing when I was eight.
"The Thai Olympic champions are my heroes. Omar trained them and he is training me now, and I want to do the same."
Malagon wants Thailand to emerge as the top boxing nation again at these Games, targeting six golds out of the 11 events.
No doubt, Wuttichai will be favourite to deliver one of them.
"I'm confident, I'm feeling good," said the boxer.
"Another gold, 100 per cent."