MUAY THAI (THAI KICK BOXING) AND OLYMPIC AND PRO BOXING IN THAILAND

MUAY THAI (THAI KICK BOXING) AND THAI MARTIAL ARTS

Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is a style of combat in which boxers don trunks and gloves and battle each other in a ring with a referee like conventional boxers but are also allowed to use much of their body— especially the fists, elbows, arms, feet, knees, and head—in the ring. In staged events, Thai foot boxers have defeated Chinese Kung fu masters. [Source: Robert Horn, Sports Illustrated, August 1997]

Muay Thai is arguably the most popular sport in Thailand. One fan told Reuters, “Most Thai people think international boxing is less interesting than Muay Thai because there are only two weapons as opposed to eight in Thailand boxing—the hands, feet, knees and elbows.” There are a number of other forms of kick boxing that have their origins in recent times. They no doubt have been influenced by muay thai, as well as other forms of martial arts, but have their own rules and organization.

And then there are other forms of self-defense and Thai martial arts that have been transformed into sports. Thai sword-and-pole fighting uses the conventional hand weapons of soldiers combined with graceful dance gestures and musical accompaniment. Like muay thai it has an an elaborate wai khru ceremony. The sport grew from military training techniques used by soldiers preparing for battle.

History of Muay Thai and Women Kick Boxers

Muay Thai reportedly develop out of martial arts fighting techniques used in the 16th century by Siamese soldiers in Ayutthaya. It traces its origin back to 1560 when King Naresuan was captured by the Burmese . Known as a skilled unarmed fighter, he was given a chance to fight for his freedom. The story goes he easily defeated his rivals and was hailed as a hero when he returned to Siam and unarmed fighting was declared the national sport.

Thai heros include the 17th century monarch, King Sanpetch, who disguised himself as a commoner to test his Muay Thai skills, and the 18th century soldier, Nai Khanoom Tom, who won his freedom during a war with Burma after defeating 12 of Burma's top-ranked fighters. The modern version of the sport has been around since 1920s. It is still taught to soldiers.

In the past, fighters wore no gloves, and were allowed to catch hold of opponents with their bare hands and wrestle them down. Muay Thai was a demonstration sport at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. For it to be recognized as an official Olympic-worthy event women have to be allowed to compete in their own division.

There are also about 1,000 licensed women kick boxers. They earn a bout $120 per bout. Several western women are in the ranks. An Irish woman named Niamh Griffin was the champion in the junior featherweight division for a while.

Muay Thai Rules

Muay thai bouts consist of five three-minute rounds, with minute rest in between rounds. Butting, eye-gouging and smothering are prohibited. Clinches are common and throwing an opponent while not an offence, may result in a deduction of points The match is controlled by a referee in the ring and two judges outside it, who award a maximum of five points er round. The boxers wear boxing shorts. Their feet are bare except for taping of the ankles and insteps.

The Muay Thai season begin after the arrival of the monsoons, sometime in May. There are weight divisions, beginning with pinweight (104 pounds and under). The matches begin with wai khru and ram muay rituals in which boxers pray in the ring to sacred objects. During this ritual the boxers bow and salute to show respect to their trainers and the king, raise their arms to summon Buddhist, Hindu and animist gods and spirits, and do a little shadow-boxing dance—unique to the region from which the boxers are from—to intimidate their opponents and loosen up. They sometimes wear garlands of marigolds and other flowers during the little dance. Women are not allowed in the ring at the big stadiums because it is said disrupt the spirits and cause injuries.

Boxers are allowed to use their elbows, shoulders, knees, feet and hands. The rules for the hands are similarto those of the Queensbury rules for regular boxing. Blows may be delivered to any part of the opponent’s body above the abdomen.

Muay Thai Customs and Tecniques

When studying muay thai, all aspiring fighters are first taught to pay respect to past masters, the khru, and the Thai ancestors who handed down the art to the present day. The display of respect and gratitude is in line with Thai tradition and culture. At all matches, a pre-fight wai khru ritual is always held. For fighters, the ritual serves as a warm-up session for all the muscles and as a morale booster, as well.

The boxing is accompanied by discordant music provided by a ringside ensemble comprised of a pipe, two long drums and cymbals. The musicians play throughout the match and change the tune and the tempo to reflect the mood of the fight and sometimes to push and motivate the boxers.

A muay thai contest decided by the application of techniques rather than the use of force, resulting in numerous characteristic positions and forms of striking, each with an imaginative name that perfectly illustrates what the boxer is doing. At the start of a fight, each combatant takes up a firm stance, arms put up on guard, chin tucked in, and fixes his gaze on his opponent, ready for a strike or a defense in line with the mae mai muay thai – the major techniques of muay thai. Some well-known techniques are charakhae fat hang – alligator sweeping the tail, which is turning the body to kick by swinging the heel back; hanuman thawai waen – the ape king presenting the ring, throwing punches from both sides at the same time; and ban sian thotsakan – beheading the demon Ravana with a jump kick to the nape of the neck.

High kicks to the head are common. They can be delivery with devastating quickness and force. Blows are often delivered in one-two combinations to different parts of the body. On effective combination is a knee kick to the ribs followed by an upper cut. Punching is merely regarded as way to soften up an opponent. Kicks and elbow punches are where the most damage is done. Sometimes a boxer will grab his opponents head with his bands and thrust his face into an upward-charging knee kick.

Muay Thai Boxers

The best Muay Thai boxers come from the eastern province of Buriram and Saiyok in Kanchanaburi Province. Fairtex in Bangkok and Rangsit in the Bangkok suburbs, are regarded as the best training facilities. The best boxer in the late 1990s was Nam Khabau, a fighter in his 20s with a great finishing kick. Many foreigners have tried their luck at sport, including Dale Kvalheim, a former U.S. serviceman who became a regional champion.

One of the most well-known boxers is Prinya Kiatbusaba, a transvestite known as Nong (Va Voom) Toom, who wore lipstick, eyeliner and fingernail polish during his matches and kissed his opponent on the lips before matches. In his prefight dance he mimed putting on make-up while he did the splits. Toom later had a sex change operation. Afterwards, he was allowed to continue fighting, as a woman in the men’s division, but was not allowed to wear a sports bra.

There are around 60,000 registered muay thai boxers. Boxer began with winning purses of about around $10 and make an average of about $500 or $700 a bout. The purse for a championship bout is around $10,000. Many boxers wear amulets, sacred scriptures and charms during the fights. Before the bout their hands are wrapped in cloth, they are given a rubdown on wooden tables with special yellow oils that make their skin glisten, and are draped in orchids, jasmine and marigold garlands and crowned with sacred sanskrit scrolls.

In June 2004, Sanit Thiyamayta, a well-known kick boxer who went by the name Samson, was fined $750 and given a one-year suspended sentence for throwing a match that ended with the referee chasing him out of the ring because the match was obviously fixed.

Life of Muay Thai Boxer

Anthony Faiola wrote in the Washington Post, “Like thousands of rural Thai youths who come to Bangkok each year to become professional kickboxers, Songkhom Songkhom Wor Sungprapai is a farm boy for whom backbreaking labor in the fields would yield about $100 a week -- or 15 times less than he earns with just one 23-minute boxing match a month. That does not mean it's an easy life. He has only five days off every 30 days; the remainder are spent waking at 5 a.m. to train until night falls, when the lights go off at the gym dorms where he bunks. [Source: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, September 29, 2006,**]

“Songkhom's father and two eldest brothers also practiced” muay thai. “Songkhom began training when he was 7, went professional at 10 and moved alone to his boarding gym in Bangkok at 14. In a sport that can sometimes be deadly, he has already broken three ribs and his right arm. He's also knocked 20 men unconscious. **

"I came to Bangkok to make my family proud," he told the Washington Post. "Whenever I feel tired or in pain, I think of my family...I don't like hurting my opponents, but there's the money -- I need the moneyI send most of it home to my father. I don't see him so often, but I know he is proud of me." **

“Shortly after 10 a.m., Songkhom joins other boxers from his gym at a by-the-hour flophouse where they nap four to a bed for the next three hours. They lunch on spicy shrimp soup, then nap some more. Veha wakes them at 4 p.m. for stretching and liniment massages. Within the hour they are streaming through Bangkok's teeming streets, passing the steaming pots of street vendors as they make their way toward the rickety, tin-roofed stadium's locker room.” **

Muay Thai Boxer Training

Anthony Faiola wrote in the Washington Post, “Dawn breaks on the back streets near Lumpini Stadium, and Songkhom is already at work, pushing himself through relentless 500-meter laps. An 18-year-old kickboxer with a Doberman-lean face, Songkhom looks hungry, and for good reason: He must shed three pounds in the next 60 minutes to make legal weight for the night's bout, and he's working on an empty stomach. [Source: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, September 29, 2006,**]

“Songkhom pauses for a breather, and Veha Lookthapfa, his 37-year-old trainer, unzips the boxer's insulated tracksuit, an oven in the 88-degree heat. Veha sizes him up. "Keep going. You're not there yet, run it off," Veha tells Songkhom, who has dropped 10 pounds in the past three days. Earlier this month, Songkhom lost his local championship title, and now he is craving victory far more than breakfast. It will take him many more months to regain his title, but this night is a chance to regain momentum and respect. These are two things he wants, badly. How badly? Enough to take his speed up a notch. Enough to run until he's panting, weak-kneed and glassy-eyed. Enough that when he enters Lumpini's cement-walled locker room, he collapses on a massage table, where Veha squeezes Songkhom's tendons like sponges, draining every last drop of liquid from his body. **

At 7:46 a.m., the spent boxer weighs in naked and gets an indolent thumbs-up from a bored-looking judge. He tipped the scale at no more than 118 pounds. Songkhom's gym mates and trainer take him back to the massage table, dousing his body with icy water to revitalize him. He rushes through a breakfast of rice, spiced beef curry and prawn omelets, then joins a host of other young boxers inside a nearby medical clinic, where Songkhom is put on an intravenous drip to regain his strength while downing bags of sliced papaya. This is his brief window to bulk up again, as much as he can without affecting his speed during the night's match. **

Description of a Muay Thai Bouts

Anthony Faiola wrote in the Washington Post, “At 7:34 p.m., Veha begins binding Songkhom's hands with tape for the match. Songkhom, a Muslim, slips on red velveteen trunks embroidered with his late mother's name and quietly begins reciting passages from the Koran. Veha, also a Muslim, similarly recites as he ties ceremonial bands on Songkhom's biceps, crowns him with a sacred teardrop-shaped headdress and puts garlands of yellow flowers around his neck. [Source: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, September 29, 2006,**]

“The young kickboxer enters the stadium with little fanfare at 8:39 p.m. The foreign tourists in the front rows have no idea they are looking at an ex-champ. Locals in the cheap seats are too busy betting on the match to offer applause. At 9 p.m., Songkhom and his opponent perform pre-match ceremonies to offer thanks to all the men who have ever trained them. Then the bell, and kicks and punches are flying. The gentle Songkhom turns savage; one fierce kick clearly shakes his opponent in the second of five three-minute rounds. But his opponent is quicker and fiercer in critical rounds 4 and 5. The hypnotic Thai music that is the soundtrack for their brawl stops as the match ends. Songkhom's opponent gets the nod from the judges -- winning by one point. Exhausted, Songkhom can barely muster words. Then he mutters: "I'll play him again and I'll beat him. I will. I will." **

Describing a Muay Thai bout between two boxers named Apidej and Sakchai, Robert Horn wrote in Sports Illustrated, the "fight has the flavor of raw violence, the frenzy of a backroom brawl... The cracking sounds of flesh striking bone pierce the roar of gamblers and tourists and just plain fans who pack Muay Thai's smoke-filled clubs and small stadiums."

"With the odds changing constantly, bettors shout and wave fingers at the sian panan, the bookmakers, in an intricate system of hand signals. Military police are on hand mainly to keep order, but soldiers also chase down gamblers who don't pay their bets, photograph them and toss them from the premises. Permanently...In the ring, Apidej and Sakchai run a glove along the top rope to draw a sacred circle at the edge of darkness that they believe will protect them from the denizens of spiritual and criminal underworld."

"When the fight starts, Apidej shows Sakchai no respect, leaning forwards and exposing his chin, answering crackling left kicks to shins and stomach with his own stinging kick to the stomach. Throughout the bout, the fighters grapple in clinches, trying to wedge an elbow or uppercut. Heads jerk and sweat flies. One jumps forward and digs a knee into the other's gut...Sckchai deliver five sharp kicks to Apidej's ribs just before the final bell." The boys hugged each other, the referee collected the scorecards. "The referee raises a hand of each boy. The fight is a draw and the bets are off."

Kick Boxing Children

Many Muay Thai boxers are children who have dropped out of school to chase a rags-to-riches dreams in dilapidated gyms, locate in slums, where they often fight without head hear and other protective equipment. There is little public sympathy for their plight. Even though children under 12 are technically banned by Thai law from box professional, Horn talked to one boy who began fighting professionally at nine and had engaged in 30 pro bout by the age of 13. Most of the fighters at the main stadium are 14, or 16. Twenty is considered over the hill.

In 2007, The Nation reported: “Nearly 8,000 underage children have now entered professional boxing rings and face the risk of physical injury including brain damage, according to a survey by the Ramjitti Institute. Most of the young boxers come from the Northeast. For each fight, a child boxer earns between Bt50 and Bt600 - half of which he must give to his boxing camp. [Source: The Nation, November 21, 2007]

"Because these children are younger than 15, they cannot register themselves as boxers and are therefore not protected by boxing laws," Deputy Social Development and Human Security Minister Poldej Pinpratheep said. The laws entitle injured boxers to compensation if they are injured during a match.” On top of that they miss their chance for an education and opportunities to improve their lives outside the ring. "Most young boxers want to earn money for their education and their families. However, after they enter professional fights, they often miss their classes and are finally pressured by their teachers to quit," Poldej said.

Brain Damage and Other Dangers faced by Child Kick Boxers

Pojdej told The Nation explained that boxing affected the brain and joint development of young boxers."If their development is adversely affected, the children may become undersized," he said. Dr Uthen Pandee, a lecturer at Ramathibodi Hospital's emergency medicine department, said punches usually hit the young boxers' head, face, eyes, teeth and oral cavities. Teeth are often dislodged. In some cases, young boxers sustain brain damage, he said. According to Uthen, some boxers faced abrupt paralysis, while others will experience slow mobility and deteriorating memory when they become middle-aged.[Source: The Nation, November 21, 2007]

Chatchai Komaratat, who heads Chulalongkorn University's academic and research service centre, said underage boxing could really subject youngsters to brain damage. "If boxing organisers follow academic principles, risks can be minimised by almost 100 per cent," he said. He said these principles required the use of protective gear such as headguards and that boxers be matched with an opponent of similar height, age and weight in the ring. "We should clearly promote the fact that boxing matches by young children will not focus on violence. Also, we should lay down proper qualifications for boxing schools, boxing camps and its executives," he said. Chatchai said authorities such as the Education Ministry, the Sports and Tourism Ministry and boxing associations should work together to ensure boxing safety among children.

Sappasit Khumpraphan, who heads the Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights Foundation, said child boxing should be limited to shows - not for professional fights. "If young boxers have to really box and fight, rules must be carefully written to ensure children's safety," he said.

The Children Protection Act bans children from fighting in the ring but the Thai Boxing Act allowed children to fight. Pinsinchai Boxing Camp owner Sawek Pinsinchai said most young boxers came from poor families and wanted to earn money from fighting. "We have doctors ready by the ringside," Sawek said, adding that children must start learning the art of Thai boxing from the age of seven or eight to excel. "If you wait till the age of 15, it's too late," he said. Sawek said the government should enforce safety measures but should not bar children from professional boxing rings.

Riddick Bowe Punished in Muay Thai Debut

Associated Press reported from Pattaya: “Riddick Bowe now understands why people warned him that Muay Thai is a dangerous sport. "I would have to say, they have a valid point," said Bowe, after his debut in Thai kickboxing ended with a thud in the second round. "It's much harder than boxing." The former world heavyweight boxing champion had hoped to prove his critics wrong and show that he could comeback from retirement into an entirely new sport and revive some of his past glory. But Bowe is now 45 and weighs 300 pounds, and he looked it Friday in his first fight since 2008. [Source: Associated Press, June 14, 2013]

“Slow and out of shape, the fighter known as "Big Daddy" took a big beating from his 30-year-old unheralded Russian opponent Levgen Golovin, who attacked with repeated kicks to the shins that knocked Bowe off his feet five times. The bout ended with a technical knockout after his last fall when Bowe sat on the ground clutching his legs, wincing in pain."You can recover from a head shot or a body shot, but when you get kicked in the leg it lasts a long time," Bowe said, as his trainer iced his left shin. "My leg is still hurting. I don't know how long it's been -- 15 minutes?"

Not once during the brief fight, which ended 2 minutes into the second round, did Bowe land a punch or a kick. But he was happy to trade barbs with reporters afterward showing the wit that made him one of boxing's charismatic personalities during his brief reign as champion two decades ago. "This ain't a setback it's a getback," Bowe said, referring to his comeback. "I had a lot of fun. I'm going to do it again. Next time it's going to be different."

Like so many boxers, Bowe lost the struggle to stay out of the ring. He had his reasons: He's bored with retirement; his millions are gone and he needs the money; he misses the adoration of fans; he loves to fight -- and knows little else. Bowe escaped without serious injury and made $150,000 for his Muay Thai debut, organized by Thai promoters trying to increase the international appeal of Thailand's national sport. The money is a far cry from the millions he earned by beating Evander Holyfield in 1992 to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. In his heyday, Bowe fought on boxing's grandest stages in Las Vegas and New York.

His return to fighting took place at an outdoor ring set up beside the beach in Pattaya, a Thai town best known for its sprawling seaside red-light district. Surveying the scene before the fight started, Bowe shook his head sadly. "I should be moving up, but I'm moving backwards here," he said. His fight was one of a dozen at the venue, which had the atmosphere of a village fairground with loud music and amusement park rides nearby. Promoters had said they hoped to draw about 20,000 people, but a crowd closer to 1,000 turned up even though admission was free.

On a sweltering night, Bowe sat and sweated for hours as he waited his turn to fight. The venue had no changing rooms, so Bowe and other fighters stripped down and changed in open air tents beside the stage. "I've never seen anything like this," Bowe said, his spirits lifted by fans who came up to ask for autographs and wish him luck. One American fan stared in awe at Bowe. "He was such an underrated and great champion," said Jerry Mathison, a former fighter turned songwriter who lives in Thailand. "I can't believe he's here, in Pattaya."

Despite his loss, Bowe was optimistic before limping away into a car. "Hey, we're going to do this again. I'll be back soon," he said. "I'm not a quitter. I want to do it until I get it right." Bowe's opponent shook his head in disbelief when told the aging boxer plans to return to Muay Thai. "It would be a big mistake. It's not for him," said Golovin, a trim and fit 220 pounds. "He's too slow and a bit too old."

Olympic Boxing and Thailand

Payao Poontarat, a boxer, won Thailand’s first Olympic medal, a bronze, at the age of 19 in Montreal in 1976. He later held he WBC superflyweight crown. A one time flower seller, he won a seat in parliament as a member of the Democratic Party in 2001. In 2006 he died from Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 49.

In boxing Thailand won a silver at Los Angeles in 1984; a bronze in Seoul in 1988; and a bronze in Barcelona in 1992. Dhawee Umponmaha won a silver in 1984 in Los Angeles in men's light welterweight boxing. Phajol Moolsan won a bronze in 1988 in Seoul in men's bantamweight boxing. Arkhom Chenglai won a bronze in 1992 in Barcelona in men's welterweight boxing.

Thailand won its first gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Somluck Kamsing won a gold medal in men’s featherwight boxing. He celebrated by hoisting the king’s portrait. In addition, Vichairachanon Khadpo won a bronze in men's bantamweight. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Wijan Ponlid won Thailand’s second ever gold medal in the men's flyweight in boxing. Pronchai Thongburan won a bronze in the men's light middleweight.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Manus Boonjaumnong won a gold medal in the light welterweight division boxing, defeating a heavily favored Cuban 17-11 in the gold medal game. During a congratulatory phone call from King Bhumibol he couldn’t stop crying and only managed to give one word answers. With a picture of the king He told reporters, “I fought for my king, who urged Me to be strong in my final bout. Worapoj Petchkoom won a silver in men's bantamweight. Suriya Prasathinphimai won a bronze in Men's middleweight boxing.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing Somjit Jongjohor won a gold in flyweight boxing and Manus Boonjumnong won a silver in the light welterweight , losing to a Dominican in the gold medal bout. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Kaeo Pongprayoon won a silver in men's light flyweight boxing.

Professional Boxing in Thailand

Professional boxing is also popular in Thailand. Thailand has produced a number of world champion in the lighter weight divisions. In February 2002, a Thai boxer, 28-year-old Chatchai Phaisithing, collapsed in the ring during a fight with a Russian at a resort in Pattaya and died later at the hospital. The cause of death was listed as heart failure.

Pongsaklek Wongjongkam, a former kick boxer, was the World Boxing Council flyweight champion. A southpaw, he was undefeated for 11 years and had a record of 65 wins, and two losses at the age of 29 in 2007. In one case he knocked out a Japanese opponent in 35 seconds.. In April 2007, he defeated Japan’s Tomonubu Shimizu for a record 17th title defense, breaking his opponents nose and sending him to the canvas in the 7thround. Pongsaklek is considered shoo in for the boxing hall of fame.

Veerapol Nakornloung was the WBC bantamweight champion. In May 2003, he defended his tile against Mexican Hugo Dianzo, bringing his record of 41-1 with 30 knockouts. Oleydong Sithsanerchai defended his minimum weight WBC title against a Japanese challenger in July 2008.

Tepparith Singwancha is a Thai professional boxer in the super flyweight division and is the current World Boxing Association Super Flyweight Champion. He won the interim title on May 1, 2011 in Phetchaburi, Thailand against Drian Francisco, and was elevated to full champion in November of that year. Boxing record: Total fights: 23; Wins 21; Wins by KO 13; Losses 2.[Source: Wikipedia]

Napapol Sor Rungvisai was the WBC super bantamweight champion until 2008 when the crown was taken from him in Yokohama by Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka. He won 57 (KO 46) + lost 3 (KO 2) + drawn 1.

Convicted Thai drug dealer Nongmai (Samson) Sor Siriporn fought for the WBC women straw weight title in Bangkok’s Parthn Thani prison. She was knocked out by Japanese challenger in the seventh round and lost. If she had won she could have been released from prison a year early. She was imprisoned on a 10-year sentence for selling a small amount of methamphetamines. In April 2004 she won an early release after beating Japan’s Ayaka Miyano for the WBC light flyweight title. In April 2005 she held onto her title after beating Japan’s Kayako Ebata in Phnom Penh.

In January 2008, convicted robber Amnat Ruenoeng emerged from jail as a contender in the light-flyweight division.

Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym

Chalermwong Udomna (former Prakob Udomna), who boxes as Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, (born November 20, 1980) is a professional boxer from Thailand who fights in the super bantamweight division. He is a former WBA Regular Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight World Champion, and a former PABA regional Bantamweight and Superbantamweight. [Source: Wikipedia]

His boxing record: Total fights: 44; Wins: 42; Wins by KO: 30; Losses: 2. On September 26, 2009 Poonsawat defeated Irish boxer Bernard Dunne in the 3rd round to claim the WBA World Super Bantamweight title. Then Poonsawat defended his title two more times until May 2010. On October 2, 2010 Poonsawat lost to Ryol Li Lee in a stunning upset. This was Kratingdaenggym's first loss since July 2006 against Volodymyr Sydorenko.

Poonsawat was due to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba in an attempt to regain the WBA Super Bantamweight title. However, on December 14, 2012, after Olympic-style drug testing, it was revealed that Poonsawat had failed a medical exam, and would not be able to participate in the bout. Rumors came about that Poonsawat had tested positive for HIV, but it was later revealed that he suffers from thalassemia, an affliction that affects red blood cells and causes anemia. Due to this, his boxing career has ended.

Veeraphol Sahaprom

Veerapol Sahaprom is a former WBC and WBA Bantamweight Champion. He was born on November 16, 1968 and is from the Nakhon Ratchasima Province in Thailand. He is nicknamed "Deathmask" because he never changes his expression when throwing punches. Sahaprom entered professional boxing after becoming champion in three different weight classes in Muay Thai kickboxing. His debut in 1994 was a title match, where he won the WBC International Super Flyweight Title. He challenged a world title for the first time in only his fourth fight as a professional, defeating fellow thai fighter Daorung Chuvatana. However, Sahaprom lost his first defense against former WBC Super Flyweight Champion Nana Konadu, losing his title in only four months. [Source: Wikipedia]

Three years after losing his WBA world title, Sahaprom got his second world title shot against WBC Bantamweight Champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi on January 28, 1996. The fight took place in Osaka, Japan, and Sahaprom won by knockout in the 6th round, becoming world champion for the second time. Sahaprom fought Tatsuyoshi again in August, 1999, knocking him out in the 7th round for his second defense of the title.

Sahaprom defended his title 14 times from 1996 to 2005, winning numerous non-title fights in between. He also fought Japanese boxer Toshiaki Nishioka four times during his reign, retaining his title in every single fight. Sahaprom finally lost his title to Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa in a 12-round unanimous decision. He held the WBC Bantamweight Title for over six years.

Sahaprom fought five non-title fights after losing his title to Hasegawa, winning all five, including four by knockout. He challenged Hasegawa on March 25, 2006 in Kobe to avenge his loss, but was knocked down with a right hook in the 9th round, and was unable to pick himself up. This was the second knockout loss of his career, and his eighth fight in Japan. Sahaprom announced his retirement from boxing at age 39 after a loss to Vusi Malinga in a world title eliminator on June 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. He returned to the ring less than a year later on March 20, 2009 to knockout Yudi Arema.

Suriyan Sor Rungvisai

Suriyan Sor Rungvisai(born Suriyan Kaiganha, March 2, 1989) is a Thai professional boxer in the super flyweight division. He is the former WBC super flyweight champion. Suriyan started his career in Muay Thai at the age of seven. He made his professional boxing debut at the age of 16, beating Yoddoi Sithsoei by decision. Early in his career, he fought for several regional titles, winning the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Light Flyweight Title, and the WBC Asian Boxing Council Flyweight Title, twice. Notable fights, during this time, include a points decision victory against future WBA super flyweight champion Tepparith Singwancha. [Source: Wikipedia]

Suriyan Sor Rungvisai’s professional boxing record: Total fights: 26; Wins: 20; Wins by KO: 7; Losses: 5; Draws: 1. He is part of Nakornloung Boxing Promotions under Suchart Pisitwuttinan, the manager of two former WBC world champions (Veeraphol Sahaprom and Sirimongkol Singwangcha). On October 18, 2010, he got his first world title shot against the Thai WBC champion and The Ring flyweight world champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. The fight was competitive; Rungvisai used his superior speed to trouble the more experienced Wonjongjongkam, winning some of the early and middle rounds, but lost a point in the eight round for an unintentional clash of heads. Wonjongkam was able to close the fight stronger against Rungvisai, winning by a very close unanimous decision. The judges had the fight 115-114, 115-112, 114-113, all for Wonjongkam.

On August 19, 2011, he successfully dethroned Mexican Tomas Rojas with a unanimous decision victory, to capture WBC super flyweight title at Srisaket, Thailand. Despite giving up 5 inches in height to Rojas,Rungvisai is 5'3 and Rojas is 5'8, Rungvisai was able to use his superior speed to land combinations, to win many of the early and middle rounds. Rojas however was able to win the later rounds through increased activity and inside fighting. Rungvisai won by unanimous decision, the judges had the fight 115-114, 116-112 and 117-111, all for Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, becoming the 43rd Thai fighter to gain a major world boxing title. Rungvisai won his first title defense against, former two-time WBA super flyweight champion Nobuo Nashiro of Japan, winning a unanimous decision, with scores of 115-113, 119-109, and 116-113. On March 27, 2012, he lost his title to Yota Sato in Tokyo, Japan.

Denkaosan Kaovichit

Denkaosan Kaovichit a.k.a. Denkaosan Redbull Gym. a.k.a. Denkaosan Singwangcha was born on August 23, 1976 and is from Ko Samui, Thailand. He is reigning WBA Flyweight World champion and a Muslim. Kaovichit began fighting professionally in 1996. After achieving an undefeated streak of 21 victories, he challenged Eric Morel for WBA flyweight championship on October 12, 2002. But after being knocked down twice in the 11th round, the referee stopped the bout. This was his first-ever defeat.

After winning 20 consecutive matches, Kaovichit got another on the same title. This time, it was against Takefumi Sakata on November 4, 2007. The match, however, resulted in a draw. Following 5 wins in a row, he got a third shot at the title. Kaovichit battled Sakata again on December 31, 2008 and exacted revenge. He won the championship by besting the Japanese fighter in just two rounds. On his first defense of that title which was held in his homeland, Kaovichit escaped with a narrow split decision against Hiroyuki Hisataka on May 26, 2009. Kaovichit won his second title defense on October 6, 2009 by a majority decision over Daiki Kameda.

As of early 2013 he won 59 (KO 24) and lost 3 (KO 2) and drew one match. In January 2013, he defeated Galih Susanto by unanimous decision In November 2012, he beat Rodel Tejares by TKO. In July 2012 he defeated Rodel Quilaton by unanimous decision. In April 2012 he beat Rino Ukru with a TKO. In January 2012 he defeated Ronerex Dalut by by unanimous decision. In October 2011, he beat Edison Berwela by unanimous decision. In June 2011 he beat Hendrik Barongsay by unanimous decision. In March 2011 he defeated Panca Silaban by KO. In January 2011 he defeated Yudi Arema by TKO. All of these fights were to retain his PABA super flyweight title.

In October 2010, Kaovichit was defeated by Luis Concepcion in Panama City, Panama by Tko in the first round. Kaovichit was knocked down three times in 1st round and lost WBA World flyweight title. In February 7, 2010, he lost Daiki Kameda by by unanimous decision in Kobe, Japan and lost the lost WBA World flyweight title.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance, Theatre Academy Helsinki, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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