‘What we’re doing is important’: MM get the inside view on Tanko – the Manchester brand fighting for the future of martial arts

Setting big stages, feeding eager mouths and kitting out the toughest fighters​ – Tanko are taking combat sports in the North-West to a whole new level.

They might be a brand all about kicks and punches, but the most striking thing of all about Tanko Ltd is their commitment.

It’s a mind-set that filters from the titleholders at the top right down to the fledgling fighters at the bottom.

At the summit stand the likes of Panicos Yusuf – the Tanko part-owner with a stack of Muay Thai medals as high as the Beetham Tower.

At the base are young athletes like Rajan Swali – sprightly teen contenders with insatiable appetites for combat.

Not that anyone in the Tanko team would describe their brand in such hierarchical fashion. The ethos here is more libertarian than that, with the tenderfoots on a par with the long-time pros.

The Tanko philosophy is apparent in how the ambassadors communicate: they all share the same belief system and spread a mutual, memorable message – martial arts is as much about support as it is competition.

It isn’t just fighting talk, either. Tanko are supplying some of the best kit on the market at competitive prices.

Their partnership with Kettlebell Kitchen – a healthy eating outlet that caters specifically for athletes – is also helping fighters eat right to push harder in the gym.

Meanwhile they’re also launching a specialised show in November to raise the profile of martial arts among the Manchester youth: Tanko Junior Muay Thai League at Stretford’s Bowlers Exhibition Centre.

Built in collaboration with various North West promoters, the show offers talented Muay Thai juniors an opportunity to compete with their peers in front of capacity crowds.

Plans are also in place to spread the exhibition nationwide, hosting regional events in Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

It’s a campaign that everyone at Tanko is feverishly excited about, serving as an apt reflection of what the brand are aiming for.

“Tanko’s established its position on the local scene,” Panicos, who competes professionally in Thai Boxing and MMA whilst running All Powers Gym in Stockport, tells MM.

“People understand now that we’re not a competition: we’re trying to benefit the sport.

“We want everyone to have quality equipment at affordable rates, we want people to be on the big shows, we want fighters to be treated well, we want to find ways to feed fighters properly, and we want them to be comfortable.

“These were the things that I didn’t have when I was a junior that could’ve benefitted me back then.

“What we’re doing here is important.”


Tanko teen fighter Rajan, an unbeaten (4-0) Thai kickboxer from Pra Chao Suua Gym, echoes these sentiments and then some.

“The Tanko Junior Muay Thai League is such a good thing. It’ll give young fighters a platform to perform on and a real chance to shine.

“I’ve been inactive for long periods before and it’s frustrating. When you’re a fighter, all you want to do is compete – no matter how old you are.

“The Tanko junior show will give these ambitious lads and girls a chance to get in the ring and go up against people who are a good match for them, learning as they go.

“It’s going to be great for junior fighting and the sport.”

As national martial arts moves from strength to strength, Tanko is right there every step of the way: propping it up, showing it off, and strengthening its foundations by supporting young blood.

With Tanko in its corner, you feel that there’s always another round left in British combat sports…

Tanko Junior Muay Thai League takes place at Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Stretford on November 11, with doors open from midday.

For information on Tanko, All Powers, Pra Chao Suua Gym and Kettlebell Kitchen, you can visit their websites below.

Image courtesy of Tanko Events via Twitter, with thanks.

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