Growing up in Hebron, Indiana as a young boy Walter trained in Shotokan Karate. He trained for several years and competed on a local and regional level. He stopped training when his focus shifted to music. “Returning to the martial arts after my passion for playing the guitar diminished was a bit ironic, yet on some level I felt my training now came full circle” said Walter.
Residing in the Los Angeles area he began training in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do Concepts and later became a staff instructor under famed instructor Richard Bustillo, one of Bruce Lee’s original students. It was training at the well-known IMB Academy in Torrance, CA where Walter met his first Muay Thai instructor Nanfa Serchadeco, a Rajadamnern Stadium Champion and an Olympic Bronze Medalist in Boxing. Walter embraced his training with the same enthusiasm and dedication he developed as a consummate musician. His work ethic enabled him to excel in the sport of Muay Thai and soon after began his competitive career as a fighter.
The untimely death of Nanfa Serchadeco was a tragedy and a set back. Walter trained with Vut Kamnark and then turned the adversity of losing his mentor to an opportunity to travel to Thailand to train at the famed Sityodtong Camp in Pattaya. Sityodtong was known for producing many legendary champions including the famous Payakaroon brothers Samart and Kongtalanee. While training at Sityodtong Walter’s coach was none other than the acclaimed Arjarn Yod Tong Senanan, the founder of Sityodtong and appointed by a member of Thailand’s Royal Family as the conservator of Muay Thai.
After returning from Thailand, Walter trained at the Muay Thai Academy in North Hollywood, the oldest Muay Thai school in the US and known for hosting every Thai champion inward bound from Thailand. It was at the Muay Thai Academy where he also trained with other coaches including World Champion, Saekson Janjira. For several years, Walter trained diligently and fought consistently and as a result won his first title belt. He was now on his way to his dream of being a Champion.
That all changed in the summer of 1996. While riding his motorcycle on the way home after a bike run an inexperienced sixteen year old driver made an illegal left turn causing a horrific accident. Rather than getting struck by the oncoming vehicle which would have instantly killed him, Walter leaped over the car landing onto the pavement. He was rushed to the ER and suffered multiple injuries and broken bones. His attending physicians explained the seriousness of his injuries and that it would be a long hard road to recovery. They also told him that he would never be able to train let alone compete in the physically demanding sport of Muay Thai.
While his doctors were correct in stating that it would take some time to heal, they were not right about everything. Against all odds and with the grace of God and the help of friends Walter began training again and had his come back fight in less than two years after being hospitalized with life threatening injuries. He won by an amazing KO victory and continued fighting for 8 solid years earning 7 additional Championship belts.
Walter attributes his success in the ring to having logged many hours with top notch trainers and coaches. To his credits, he is a certified senior instructor with over twenty-five years experience in Muay Thai. He has trained and fought in Thailand under the direction of one of Sityodtong’s most celebrated Champions, Kongtalanee Payakaroon, a five-time Lumpinee Stadium Champion and older brother to Thai legend, Samart Payakaroon. Walter’s last fight in Thailand was broadcasted on Thai national television and he won by an impressive KO victory. He fought a formidable opponent that was fifteen years his junior and had twice as many recorded fights which made the win that much more gratifying.
In addition to Muay Thai, Walter is also a skilled boxer and has trained with some of the best boxing coaches in the world including Justin Fortune and Freddie Roach. As a youngster, his boxing training was from the original “School of Hard Knocks”. Walter recalls, “My father was my first trainer. He was originally from the South Side of Chicago and was a former boxer in the Midwest. His idea of training was to let you put on the gloves and then start blasting.” Although Walter felt his father’s coaching abilities fell short of many of his later trainers, he credits his father for instilling two very important elements for a fighter and that is developing mental and physical toughness.
In 2003 Kru Yod Tong approached him to be the head of the West Coast division of Sityodtong, USA. The timing could not have been better, because Walter and his wife, June Castro Michalowski were currently in the process of opening their own academy in Pasadena. It was an honor to represent one of the most famous Muay Thai camps in the world, a responsibility Walter does not take lightly.
“I would say Muay Thai saved my life. I might have gone down a different road, but that’s another story. Muay Thai keeps you living clean and kept me out of trouble. It’s also not just about fighting, training in Muay Thai develops discipline and respect and improves confidence and self esteem. It’s great for kids and especially young adults, because it helps channel negative energy into something positive. I’m living proof of that.” -WALTER MICHALOWSKI