We talk with Anthony Salcedo, founder of Athlon Rub to discuss the story behind the transition from working with Namman Muay to launching his own brand of Thai Oil.
For many year Anthony Salcedo was the representative and face of Namman Muay in the USA. He has had the opportunity to learn from the source and has been inside the largest Thai Oil plant in Thailand. Under his distribution company, Competitive ACE he was the exclusive distributor and official registered FDA Agent. Besides being a long time staple at and supporter of all Muay Thai tournaments in the USA, Anthony was an active sponsor of the Muay Thai Preservation Project helping troubled youth. Anthony was also instrumental in working with most Muay Thai sanctioning bodies to help insure that the tradition of the pre-fight Thai Oil usage was clearly allowed during competition in the USA. He has been an invited speaker to the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) and had some involvement in the Proposed Unified Rules of Muay Thai completed in 2011. He is currently an advisory board member of the Martial Arts History Museum in Burbank, California and proposed and curated the Thai Martial Arts Exhibit in the museum.
MTA: Hello Anthony, thank you for talking with us today.
Anthony: Thank you, it’s a pleasure.
MTA: It’s been a while since we last met up. I think it was around 2010, we came out to your Namman Muay booth at the LA Convention Center to interview Malapet who was your special quest at the expo that weekend. We also ending up meeting with Paulo Tocha at your booth and interviewing as well.
Anthony: That’s right, I remember that event. Malaipet lived in LA at the time, we had recently met by chance at a Thai Weapons performance at the Ford Amphitheater during the intermission in the hallway a few months prior. We ended up at a Karaoke bar in Thai Town till late that night.
MTA: I think you were sponsoring him.
Anthony: We did on some fights, I remember one was against Kevin Ross which was touted as the biggest Muay Thai fight in North America at the time. We also made him these killer custom shorts for him which came out incredible in the photos.
MTA: Talk to us about Athlon Rub, why the change. You were everywhere with the Thai brand for many years.
Anthony: It was natural move after our agreement expired. Our agreement was founded on me successfully registering them with the FDA. After that had been accomplished and the term expired, they took the distribution back in-house. For me, working with Thailand’s business culture was more difficult than expected. The language barrier, the 11 – 12 hour time difference, the one month ocean freight delivery time also didn’t help. In the end, I also wanted to ensure the quality and controls were at the highest levels.
MTA: It’s a bold move leaving a well-known brand.
Anthony: It is but it’s worth it if you can work with something you believe in, enjoy and know you can improve upon.
MTA: Tell us about Athlon Rub – Thai Oil, are there any differences?
Anthony: Absolutely. We made a few changes with formulation and packaging to enhance the product. Besides being made in the USA, Athlon Rub is made with the strictest quality controls in an FDA and ISO certified lab. We also have the renown certification from Informed Choice / Trusted by Sport to ensure that our product is safe and free of banned substances (PEDs) and cross-contamination risks. Besdies the lab being vetted, we submit every production batch for testing continuously.
MTA: Wait Wait, are you saying other brands have banned substances?
Anthony: Not at all, we are saying Athlon Rub doesn’t. and that our production process / lab is tight. A formula’s ingredients can be void of banned substances, but if the production process is not proper, substances from another product made at that facility can affect testing results of your product. Every one of our production batches gets submitted for testing and we also get secret testing to ensure all batch lot numbers are reported and checked. With the recently increase of Athletic testing done by WADA and USADA, it’s important to ensure to clean athletes that they are not risking their careers and dreams. The informed choice logo is integral part of our back label.
MTA: Did you change the formula?
Anthony: The foundation is the same, but we’ve added other proven ingredients that are known to help with recovery like Arnica, Turmeric, and Thai Plai which is a form of ginger from Thailand and a main ingredient Thai Massage Balls. We’ve also worked to keep the same scent but to naturally reduce the intensity of the smell. This was very important as Thai Oil smells great to the user but someone not using it, it can be a bit much and overwhelming particularly in closed areas. In Thailand, most gyms are open air and people are training the entire day at camp. In other areas of the world, people go home, go to work and or school, etc. I learned this from Malaipet when I tried to sell him the Thai brand liniment to his Muay Thai gym. Besides the ingredients and scent, the formulation is such that it doesn’t leave your hands greasy. We also have a big change we've recently made which is that our Thai Oil will not have color added.
MTA: What do you mean, no yellow, doesn’t the yellow color come from the ingredients?
Anthony: No, it doesn’t. The color yellow is added into Thai Oil formula. Just consider, the pain cream my former company makes. It smells similar their Thai oil but it is 100% white. The adding of the color yellow may have something to do with the way Thai Oil is not full of emulsifiers causing the formula to separate. Or it may have something to do with the fact that yellow is the national color of Thailand; Thai temples are covered in gold as is many of the their costumes. I actually played around with this concept years ago with the Thai brand and brought over non-colored Thai Oil which I had several fighters test. It was the same, we just never got around to rolling it out. Our Thai Oil now can be used with white shorts and shorts, on white sheets and towels, on martial art Gi's, etc.. without it leaving yellow coloring.
MTA: Those are some big departures. I see you also made some changes with the packaging.
Anthony: Most definitely. We had it with cleaning up Thai Oil and glass shards. After traveling everywhere selling Thai Oil in glass bottles for years, I don’t think anyone has had to clean up after more broken bottles than me. We found safe, BPA –Free, shatter proof container which can house Thai Oil without reacting. This makes it so much easier for athletes to take their Thai Oil everywhere with them. We also made the label a matte finish to improve the grip and designed it not to tear off when you open the bottle. I used to hate to see label completely tear off when you opened a bottle. A recent addition we did was adding a therapist size bottle which is the standard massage 8 fl oz bottle size which fits on waist holster and a chunky 16 fl oz Coach size bottle. We are also about the launch with a travel friendly size for athletes and coaches on the move. We recognize that many travel with carry-on bags since they are only traveling for a few days when competing. This new TSA approved size will allow them to carry their Thai Oil with them through the security lines.
MTA: sounds like you’ve made many improvements.
Anthony: Stand-by, we are not done, there’s more to come.
MTA: I do see you’ve made a slight label change recently.
Anthony: Yes, we’re not afraid to make a change to try to make an improvement. We also recently increased the heat sensation slightly of our formula. Although heat sensation is not the what makes Thai Oil effective, we felt we could adjust a little bit. Cold or heat are sensations which people tend to relate to effectiveness. Finding the sweet spot is a challenge as the heat sensation is influenced by many factors such as: the length of warmup, the humidity level, the amount of Thai Oil applied, the vigor of the massage, etc… believe it or not, some people also mistakenly believe that the nastier something smells, the more effective it is.
MTA: Thanks again for interview, good luck with Athlon Rub - Thai Oil. Where can people buy Athlon Rub?