Like many of our champions, Chris Romulo first became interested in traditional martial arts when he was a child. His father was a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and after many visits to the dojo, Chris decided to try it out at the age of eight: “I was hooked from the first day!” From there, Chris went on to practice his primary art, Muay Thai, as well as boxing, wrestling, BJJ, MMA, and Escrima.
Chris got into Muay Thai in 1996 under Sitsutam “Tommy Thai” Watcharanantakul, an ex-fighter from Thailand, under whom Chris first fought. Unfortunately, Watcharanantakul moved back to Thailand, forcing Chris to seek another trainer. Romulo then trained and fought under full contact champion Francisco Burgos. After a brief hiatus from training to spend time with his newborn son, Chris trained and competed for a couple years in shoot boxing under Geoff Roesch, finally returning to Muay Thai at Ultimate Gym under Ajarn Prasit Thong Dong from Saktaywan Muay Thai Camp in Thailand. However, after only one fight, Chris once again lost his instructor, as Ajarn Prasit left the US to go back to Thailand.
In 2003, a string of fortunate happenings led Duke Roufus student Jason Strout to New York. Romulo and Strout found themselves training side-by-side, and, recognizing the potential, Romulo asked Strout to stay in New York indefinitely to be his coach. The pair ended up at Church Street Boxing Gym, working together and developing Church Street’s Muay Thai program. An eight-year training relationship developed a trust and confidence between coach and fighter that helped Chris build his spectacular record of 18-3, with 7 KOs as an amateur and 13-1, with an amazing 10 wins by KO, as a professional. Chris cites Strout’s knowledge and skill as a coach as a major inspiration and catalyst to his own fighting and teaching.
About a year ago, Romulo opened his own gym, CROM Martial Training, to bring Muay Thai to a neighborhood in Rockaway beach that Chris loves but which, he admits, has few options for keeping youth off the streets and out of trouble. Chris’s impetus for much of his own program is to fill this need. He is a spokesperson for Bullying: We’re Kicking It!, and through this program, he speaks at many schools in New York and New Jersey, talking to kids about growing up and how martial arts helped him keep safe and focused. In addition to helping local youth find new paths, Chris wants to increase the prestige of his gym by providing quality training and developing a respected fight team.
Though running a gym and training fighters keeps Romulo quite busy enough, he endeavors to maintain the integrity of his school by continuing his own very successful fight career, fighting consistently despite his busy teaching schedule. He eagerly anticipates his next fight against Russian fighter Alexander Lavrushin on Justin Blair’s next Friday Night Fights card on January 14th, 2011. Later, he looks forward to rematching Canadian Alex Ricci, Romulo’s first and only professional loss and only loss by KO. Chris looks at this fight as a test of his immense growth over the past four years, when the two first fought.
Something that always stands out about Chris at fights is his performance of the Ram Muay and Wai Kru. Anyone who has seen this performance—or even a photograph of it—can tell that this is about more than just fighting to him. Says Chris of his own attitude to the sport and to competing: “I don’t look at competing solely as fighting. I view it as a true expression of my soul. I love to win, but more importantly I like to leave an impression. Like a painter, I always try to create the ultimate masterpiece on the canvas.”
Best of luck to Chris with his gym and his upcoming fights, and we eagerly look forward to seeing him defend his WKA Professional North American Middleweight Title, which he won over Sean Hinds in May of 2010.