Photographer: Christian Lartillot
Model(s): Guillaume Babouin @New Madison
Creative Director: Robin Navarro-Harraga
Stylist: Romain Vallos
Location: Special thanks to Hotel de Nell
One of PEPLVM’s favorite faces, Guillaume Babouin is back again after first appearing in our Opening Issue last year. The wonderfully talented model/sportsman just won the Muay Thai World WKF Championship 2016 in November and returns to grace our site once again in this exclusive editorial. When you first meet him, you can immediately sense a calm force to his spirit, with looks like Marlon Brando and moves like Sun Goku. We took the chance to ask him some questions on how he juggles his modeling career and his passion for thai kickboxing. Full interview below.
Hello Guillaume, could you explain to us in a few words the disciplines of Muay Thai?
Hello PEPLVM. Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is a combat sport that uses fists, feet, elbows and knees. It is practiced standing (like English boxing) although the rules allow the projection of its opponent to the ground.
How did you start out in this sport? Was there a trigger?
I grew up with a karateka father. So at the age of 8 I started karate. I did that for 6 years (with a small break in between). I participated in the regional and national championships and then at the age of 15 I wanted to turn to a more hard-hitting sport but there were no boxing clubs around my home.
So I continued karate and the competitions, passed my black belt 1st DAN, then one day a Thai boxing club opened in my city. Two of my friends went and at first I was rather skeptical due to the « violent » reputation of the sport. Given that the coach was a former pro boxer and that my two buddies were nagging me to come, I entered through the doors of this gym. All the prejudices that I had of this sport disappeared during my first training. I saw the competitors training and right away I wanted to be part of that group. I went home, I watched a few combat videos of Muay and since then I have never it let go.
Since your debut, what has been your training been like to reach this level at your age?
I started with two training sessions a week because we did not have more slots at the time, then the following year three times, and after my first fights, I increased the pace. The club had more availabilities given the good result of its competitors. It went to 4 times a week, and as the level of the fighters evolved during the fighting increased, the more I increased my frequency of training. Today I train 6 days a week. When I was 18, I left for my first training camp in Thailand and since then I go back every summer to train for one or two months.
What does one of your typical days look like during the championship?
In the preparation period before a fight, I train once or twice a day, 6 days a week. I try to vary the number of training every day, once a day, then two sessions the next day. The boxing session is held every night. In the morning I rather work on my physique: bodybuilding sessions adapted to my sport, footing, interval training, etc.
Do you have any dietary restrictions, or are you able to enjoy yourself a bit? Being a boxing champion and a model is kind of a double penalty, no?
(Laughs) Yes I impose a certain hygiene of living and it obviously includes food. But I do not consider it a restriction because I do it with pleasure. Food is a subject of particular interest to me. Performance correlates with the lifestyle of an athlete, even if I have known one or two people who have already made me lie on this subject! I « impose » a healthy diet to be active,but it goes without saying that it also goes well for modeling.
How do you manage your two parallel activities on a daily basis?
It is a great opportunity for me to do both. Modeling allows me to live, to have a salary, but also allows me the time to train every day. Boxing lets me keep a balanced lifestyle, to be in shape and fit for photoshoots. I am careful about marks on my face the day before a shoot by working more on my defense, by dodging and using a helmet during hard sparring training. Modeling and boxing let me travel around the world and the two complement each other.
Thanks to modeling, I had the opportunity to train in different clubs in New York, London, Tokyo to name only these cities. For an anecdote, thanks to boxing, I met Babeth Djian (founder and editor-in-chief of Numéro Magazine) and Albert Elbaz (stylist), who came to watch Thai boxing fights one night at the stadium in Phuket, Thailand. It happened that I was fighting that evening and I won the 1st round by KO. Babeth came to see me to propose a photoshoot with her without even knowing that I was already with an agency. We met again in Europe on a different job. Modeling contributes to my boxing career, and boxing contributes to my modeling career.
How did your modeling career start?
I was spotted by a « scout » in Paris, near St Lazare, as I entered a Mcdonald’s to ask for a glass of water 5 years ago. The following week, I signed with my first agencies, then in the wake I landed my first job: the runway for Acne in Paris, during the A/W12 fashion week.
Can you share with us one of your « healthy » secrets?
For me, the first meal of the day is the most important meal of the day, given that your stomach is empty and therefore very receptive to the first foods you give it. So my healthy tip would be about breakfast. I start my day with a large glass of water, then I prepare a « Fruit Miam »: a crushed banana, mixed with the juice of half a squeezed lemon and a tablespoon of rapeseed oil. I add three seasonal fruits cut into small pieces and about fifteen almonds. And finally, I add a few seeds of squash as well as seeds of sesame, hemp or chia. It’s healthy but also super good!
A little word for the end?
I would like to thank my family for their support, as well as my coach Stéphane Jauffret, without whom I would not be the person I am today. I would also like to thank you guys at PEPLVM for this interview.