Sifu McInnes, Owner of ISS Gym

sifu McInnes, Owner of ISS Gym

Strictly for the Hardcore!

Damian Meyer

Sifu Robert McInnesSifu Robert McInnes is the owner and manager of the famous ISS gym in Pattaya, Thailand. Home to strictly the Hardcore! Several Lumpinee Muay Thai Champions - Sukmongkol Sitchuchork, Turbo ISS, Pongsak Lek, Chatchai Paiseetong. Two WBA world boxing champs – Yodsonan Nanthachai, Yodumrung Sityodthong. UFC and Pride gladiator’s Pedro Rizzo, Rene Russo. European Muay Thai legend - Ryan Simpson. The elite of the heavyweight K1 - Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky and the middleweight K1 Max -Albert Kraus and Daniel Dawson all cite ISS as being one the best fighting camps in the world today!

Sir Ge Dorr Kung Fu

Sifu Robert McInnes began training in the martial arts as a boy in New Zealand in the sixties. He studied Sir Ge Dorr Kung Fu under the guidance of an expatriate Chinaman who was an employee in his families business. In the late sixties his first Sir Ge Dorr teacher had convinced the monks of the Thai Shan Shaolin Temple in Northern China that the young Robert McInnes was a worthy candidate to study there. In the mid seventies for four years Sifu McInnes dedicated his life to learning the Sir Ge Dorr style of Kung Fu under Master Zui, a Jen Chi Monk. After completing all of his studies and chambers he left the temple and travelled throughout Asia and then to the USA where he began competing in karate style tournaments and Kumitie bouts. But it was in Hong Kong, where he fought in illegal no rules style fights that he first encountered Muay Thai.

Muay Thai - Thailand

Impressed with this style of fighting he went to Thailand to train and study the art of Muay Thai and ended up working directly with Mr Songchai Ratanasubarn, then Thailand’s biggest Muay Thai promoter. The late eighties were an extremely violent time in Thailand as rival organized crime groups were battling for control over the fight game.

Personal protection became a priority to many influential identities in the industry. Several high profile Muay Thai figures were assassinated and gun battles raged throughout the country. The car bomb was a favourite technique favoured by one particular syndicate, who used to follow up the initial blast by opening up with machine guns into the blazing vehicle just to make sure the job was done properly!  
On one particularly violent night at Lumpinee Stadium assassins threw a hand grenade across the ring and opened fire with hand guns at a rival syndicate while a Muay Thai fight was in progress! Several people were killed and many were wounded, and this particular incident is the reason that everyone who enters the stadium today is buzzed with a metal detector - to make sure that no one is carrying guns or hand grenades. Now with the government and the Military having a much tighter control over the fight game there has been no major violent incidents for many years. The huge amount of money involved in the gambling side of Muay Thai makes it a very ‘deadly’ sport in and out of the ring.  Muay Thai has developed from gambling dens to big arenas packed with spectators and has transformed itself into a world wide international sport televised all over the world.

Military Connection

In the early 90s Sifu began teaching hand to hand combat at the Thai Military Police Academy which is the central academy where all of Thailand’s governmental bodyguards, Military Police and diplomatic protection officers train. His system of teaching and adapting Martial arts to real life situations has worked well and is popular with the soldiers. Sifu has remained an instructor there until today where he teaches the instructors of the Academy.

Official Lumpinee Referee

In 1993 Sifu McInnes was given the unprecedented honour of refereeing at Lumpinee stadium as an official Lumpinee referee. And to this day remains the only westerner to have received this honour. Sifu has referred many top Muay Thai fights in Thailand including the Raymond Decker vs.  Jomhod fight.

WBA Boxing Champions

In 1991 Sifu accepted a skinny 15 year old kid called Yodsanan to become a full time live in student at his gym. Yodsanan told Sifu that he wanted to become a champion Muay Thai fighter. But as Yodsanan had not fought Muay Thai as a young boy, Sifu thought that it was probably too late for him to become a successful Muay Thai fighter, but Sifu saw that the young kid had the three essential elements to becoming  a champion fighter. Namely courage, determination and discipline, and so a plan was devised to turn Yodsanan into a champion western boxer.

For the first three years of training Sifu wouldn’t let Yodsanan fight and concentrated on only conditioning and pad work. Instead of just punching conventional bags Sifu also had special bags made up filled with sand, reminiscent of Sifu’s training in Sir Ge Dorr Kung Fu. Yodsanan now began to punch harder than most middleweights’. It was now time for Yodsanan to fight, and fight he did… all the way to becoming the WBA Super Featherweight world champion. Yodsanan’s climb to the top of the world of boxing included 21 straight victories with 19 KO’s, most of his devastating knock outs were notched up within four rounds.

After Sifu’s amazing success of transforming a former street kid into becoming a world boxing champ. Yodtong Senanan, manager of the famous Sityodthong Muay Thai boxing camp and Thailand’s most successful ever Muay Thai trainer asked Sifu if he would train a young boxer he had. Sifu accepted and the rest is history. Yodumlung Sityodthong became the world WBA Super Bantamweight champion. 

The Dutch Invasion

Throughout the 90s many famous Dutch fighters have at one time or another trained at ISS. Including such famous names as Raymond Decker, Rob Kaman, Peter Smit, Leo De Snoot and Ryan Simpson to name just a few. However it was only after he started training K1 superstar Peter Aerts that he became involved in the biggest ‘game in town”- Japan’s  K1.

 In 2001 Peter Aerts was in a slump. The former three time K1 winner was losing more fights than he was winning and many in the fight game were saying that he was all washed up – “Yesterdays hero”, some called him. Aerts was depressed. With a young family to support his K1 contract was hanging in the balance. A couple more losses and he could kiss his lucrative K1 contract goodbye. The K1 Corporation rewards winners. Losers are tossed out like yesterday’s soiled newspaper.

Aerts needed to do something drastic to get him back to the top of the K1. A close friend recommended that he go to train with Sifu at ISS in Thailand. Aerts was initially hesitant about making the decision to leave his wife and young children to go and train in Thailand. He contemplated the idea for several days, and then thought to himself “well I have nothing to lose, I might as well go over and check it out. If I don’t think the camp’s any good I will just come back.”

Peter Aerts arrived at ISS several days later, and was impressed with the standard of training and the fighter’s there and promptly asked Sifu if he could train there as he desperately wanted to claw his way back to become King of the K1 again.

Sifu said “ok”, but laid down the rules that all the fighters have to accept at ISS.

Rule 1 – nothing is too hard.
Rule 2 – never give up.
Rule 3 – never question the trainer’s and
Rule 4 – give 110% every day at training or don’t come to train.

The words “OSS” were spoken from Peter’s mouth, from that point Peter Aerts was pushed to his physical limits. When he slowed down Sifu’s boot was right there to remind him not to. At ISS everyone is equal and that’s the key to its success.

The K1 Final 2003

The Peter Aerts of old was back and bent on K1 Success. Both Remy Bonjasky (the eventual 2003 K1 winner and ISS stablemate) and Peter had put in many torturous days of training at ISS and were determined to achieve success at the K1 final. Aerts’ first opponent of the night was Alexy “The Scorpion” Ignashov. Alexy was the raging favourite to take out the tournament as he had remained undefeated all year. However, never underestimate a determined, disciplined and hungry Peter Aerts. Aerts pulled off the upset of the tournament and defeated Alexy via a unanimous decision; however in the third round Aerts suffered a bad shin injury on his right leg. His next fight was against Musashi who had an easy win over a sick Ray Sefo. However, the chance of a Japanese fighter competing in a K1 final for the first time in its history would be a huge boost to the K1 Corporation, and this would prove Aerts undoing as Musashi was declared the winner of their fight. Much to everyone’s surprise! Aerts was disappointed about not winning this year’s K1 crown but vowed that he will be back next year, hungrier than ever.


Sifu believes that the K1 is becoming a world recognized sport of its own and will evolve even more in the future. He feels that the rules make it exciting and is currently negotiating to have K1 rules accepted in Thailand for the K1 Max and lighter weights. The reason being is that promotional arm of ISS has put on some of the largest Muay Thai events with Europeans vs. Thai fighters that Thailand has ever seen. Some events have been shown live on two TV channels at the same time and with delayed TV to 70 countries. Sifu now feels that the trend is moving to the faster paced competition fighting. 

Future Plans for ISS

Sifu McInnes’ leads an extremely busy life outside of the fight game. He is CEO of the  ISS Group, which is now a multi million dollar business spanning from Boxing and Kickboxing promotions, TV Shows, Construction Companies, Land Development, the Brute Force Energy Drink Company all the way to Aviation and Security interests.

Business in Thailand has been good to Sifu and he has become a significant benefactor to many Thai charities. His charitable work has seen him receive the Key to the City of Pattaya by the mayor and he has also received a royal award from the Prince of Thailand.

Sifu’s first love is with the Martial Arts and his passion can be seen in his teaching at his classical martial arts school which he also runs called the South East Asian School of Martial Arts. Even with his busy schedule he has never missed a class teaching unless he is out of the country. Sifu’s plans for 2004 are; “to continue to expand the ISS group of companies and to build on the world class reputation that his ISS camp has throughout the world.”

Sifu McInnes Image Gallery

Sifu McInnes
Sifu's gym

Sifu McInnes
Sifu McInnes with class

Sifu McInnes
Sifu's Terry and Botha

Sifu McInnes

Sifu McInnes
Reme and Sifu McInnis with the Crown

Sifu McInnes
Key to the City

Sifu McInnes

Sifu McInnes

Sifu McInnes
Award from the Prince of Thailand

Sifu McInnes
Award from the General

Sifu McInnes
Aikibono and Sifu McInnes

Sifu McInnes
Peter Aerts

Sifu McInnes

Sifu McInnes

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