George Hickman: Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA Founder/Head Coach

George Hickman

George Hickman is a former fighter and wrestler, who has become one of the world’s top MMA coaches. First, he helped establish Tiger Muay Thai as one of Thailand’s best fight camps and now he’s co-founded Bangtao Muay Thai on the idyllic island of Phuket.

Name: George Hickman
Date of Birth:11-21-1985
Hometown:  Castle Hayne, North Carolina
Gym:Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA. Tiger Muay Thai(2015-2021)
Background: Wrestling & MMA
Pro MMA Record: 9-3
Notable Fighters: Petr Yan, Alex Volkanovski, Weili Zhang, Khalil Rountree

Let’s go over George Hickman’s journey from a fighter to an internationally recognized MMA coach. Read below how Hickman’s journey led him to Thailand and how he helped elevate some of the world’s best gyms and combat sports athletes.

George Hickman’s Wrestling Career 

George Hickman grew up wrestling in Castle Hayne, North Carolina since he was a kid. Throughout his childhood, George excelled at wrestling and was one of NC’s top young wrestlers for years.

When Hickman got to Riverside High School, he was already considered one of the best in the state. George proved that he was all throughout high school by winning three state titles.

Hickman’s success earned him a scholarship to Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. Despite Bloomsburg being a small school, George managed to stay nationally ranked throughout his collegiate career.

George’s Fighting Career 

Naturally, after finishing up his amateur wrestling career, George Hickman made the transition over to MMA. He joined a gym in Wrightsville, North Carolina that was near his hometown and began his fighting career.

In 2011, George made his pro debut fighting within the local Carolina Fight Promotions. Hickman quickly went 2-0 as a pro in five months, when he got an amazing opportunity that would change his life.

George was offered to compete in the Bangkok Fight Night promotion in America by a Thai promoter named Kuhnpon. He went 2-1 in the promotion before competing at Bellator 88 against Stephen Upchurch in Atlanta, where George won by rear naked choke in round 1.

After winning his Bellator fight, Hickman continued traveling the world fighting. George earned a pro record of 9-3 fighting everywhere from China, Japan, and Lebanon multiple times.

Hickman Becomes a Coach 

George Hickman

Towards the end of George Hickman’s fighting career, he began transitioning over to the role of a coach. With MMA slowly starting to grow in Thailand, George would find work as a wrestling and MMA coach.

Little did George know that his journey as a fight coach in Thailand would bring him a life-changing opportunity.

George’s Time at Tiger Muay Thai 

George first came to Thailand the ‘Land Of Smiles’ in April of 2014 where he took part in the Tiger Muay Thai tryouts. During the trip, George helped fellow fighters with their wrestling whilst he was injured and it didn’t go unnoticed as he was given an amazing opportunity to become the head coach at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket. Tiger Muay Thai was one of the first super-fight camps that were constructed in Thailand.

With Hickman as one of Tiger Muay Thai’s leaders, he helped make Tiger Muay Thai one of the world’s best fight camps. The gyms attracted the best MMA fighters, Thai boxers, and BJJ athletes in the world to train in Phuket.

Thanks to successful YouTube channels, social media campaigns, and of course the hard work of the trainers, the gym was successful.

George even recruited his brother Frank Hickman to be Tiger Muay Thai’s head wrestling coach at the end of 2016/early 2017. By 2020, Tiger Muay Thai had helped train numerous MMA and Thai boxing world champions.

George Hickman Co-founds Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA

George Hickman Bangtao

After helping bring Tiger Muay Thai to prominence, George and a few colleagues wanted to go off on their own. George along with his brother Frank, Alex Schild, and Andrew Wood, made plans to open their own fight camp.

They saw how successful Tiger Muay Thai became and wanted to make their own fight camp that they owned. The four martial artists got some financial backers and found a spot near Bang Tao Beach in Phuket.

Their new gym would be called Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA and it would quickly become an internationally known fight camp. Bangtao had their grand opening in 2021 and the team added everything a martial artist could want in their fight camp.

The gym includes world-class trainers in a state-of-the-art facility and high-level hotel-grade accommodations. In just over two years, Bangtao has hosted numerous world champions, who have held seminars at the fight camp.

Notable Fighters George Hickman Has Coached 

In nearly a decade of coaching, George Hickman has helped coach numerous top fighters, which includes world champions.

Loma Lookboonmee

Loma Lookboonmee George Hickman

While working at Tiger Muay Thai, George had the opportunity to train UFC contender Loma Lookboonmee. At the time, Loma was a former 10-2 Thai boxer and 6-1 pro boxer, who was transitioning to pro MMA full-time.

Under the guidance of the Hickman brothers, Loma would go 3-1 as a pro-MMA fighter. She quickly made history in 2019 by becoming the first and only Thai MMA fighter to make it to the UFC.

Lookboonmee became the first Thai fighter to win a UFC match with a split-decision win against Aleksandra Abu at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Askren in her debut at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Since then, Loma Lookboonmee has improved her record to 9-3 with 6 UFC wins as of March 2024. Whilst they are not working together now, George was Loma’s long-term mentor and a major reason behind her success in transitioning from Muay Thai to MMA.

Petr Yan

George first coached Petr Yan when he was the head coach at Tiger Muay Thai. From the beginning, George knew Petr was a special fighter with elite-level striking. Yan would go on to become one of the first world champions that Hickman coached.

Alex Volkanovski 

George Hickman has helped former UFC Featherweight Champion Alex Volkanovski in his training for many years. Whenever Volkanovski makes his way to Thailand, he always spends a few weeks training with Hickman.

The former champion most recently trained at Bangtao in preparation for his rematch with Islam Makhachev. Volkanovski also held a seminar at the camp, which was attended by numerous people.

Weili Zhang

Reigning UFC Strawweight Champion Weili Zhang recently spent her fight camp for her fight against Amanda Lemos and her UFC 300 bout against Yan Xiaonan. Zhang credited both coaches George and Frank Hickman for helping elevate her wrestling in preparation for her UFC fights.

She loved training at Bangtao and looks to be a mainstay at Bangtao in the future.

Khalil Rountree

George has a special relationship with UFC veteran Khalil Rountree. After losing a fight by TKO, Rountree made his way to Thailand to train with George at Tiger Muay Thai.

Thanks to George Hickman and the staff of Thai trainers, Khalil transformed into a completely different fighter. He now has some of the most dangerous Muay Thai skills in the light-heavyweight division thanks to his time in Thailand.

The Legacy of George Hickman

George Hickman

George Hickman has had an incredible journey as a fighter and coach. His fighting career took him to Thailand, where he fell in love and became a world-renowned MMA and wrestling coach.

After establishing one of the world’s best fight camps you will definitely be hearing more about George and Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA gym in the future.