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Old Muay Thai Fights I Love - A Running Collection


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Just a thread of fights I love, as I run into them. I watched this first one last night and it just stayed in my memory, almost as a haunting. Hippy fought everyone, and he fought up a ton. As good a fighter as there ever was, but just too small to make the huge impact others have. In this fight you can see it all play out. He's just too small. He doesn't have the power to really effect his larger, super boss opponent Jaroensap. I love his valiant fight here. watch the fight here

Hippy and Jaroensap muay thai fight.PNG

 

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Great work again, Kevin! I couldn't find any footage at all of Paruhatlek on youtube when I've searched for him before, but just had a look and some of his fights have been uploaded in recent months. That's tonight's viewing sorted 👍   I've spoken to Thais who rate him very highly (he ko'd Samart). It would be great if you could get him in the library 👍👍

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Boonlai vs Somrak (1991). This is just an incredible fight, and I wonder what the story is behind it. Somrak who would gain world fame for winning Olympic Gold in Boxing for Thailand in 1996, is fighting the great Boonlai, known for his kicking, and very nice hands, seemingly does so refusing to punch. Somrak is about a year away from representing Thailand in the 1992 Olympic games in boxing at this point, but in the footage we have of this fight he almost completely takes his hands away. Before the 5th round I count only a soft 1-2 setting up a kick, a defensive 2 crosses when his kick is caught, and another pair of punches. One definitely get the strong sense he simply is taking his hands off-line. Then, with a huge lead in the 5th he just jabs repeatedly in retreat, as if saying: I could have just beat you with my jab if I had wanted to. Instead we get a gorgeous display of checks, teeps, counterkicks and open-side knees. Maybe something personal? Maybe a statement fight to the community, but Boonlai was no joke of an opponent. You see a fighter like Saenchai toying with very underskilled westerners, and people are wowed, this is Boonlai. It should be said that the fight was at 126, which was maybe a weight class up for Boonlai (he was 122 lb Lumpinee champion), which maybe adds a little more to Somrak's confidence in space, but it still is an amazing fight to watch. Somrak skating around the ring with an elite opponent.

You also get a primary lesson in how backwards, non-aggressive fighting in Thailand's Muay Thai can lead to performances of supreme dominance.

In thinking about fights, we have to think about opponents. If you're not familiar with Boonlai, a nice edit of Boonlai toying with opponents:

 

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6 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

 It should be said that the fight was at 126, which was maybe a weight class up for Boonlai (he was 122 lb Lumpinee champion), which maybe adds a little more to Somrak's confidence in space, but it still is an amazing fight to watch.

Interesting, I didn't know the fight was at 126 lb. Boonlai won his first Lumpinee belt the following year, 1992, at 115 lb. So probably an even bigger step up in weight for him. He won his 122 lb Lumpinee belt in 1994.   

 

6 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

If you're not familiar with Boonlai, a nice edit of Boonlai toying with opponents:

One of my go to videos on Muay Thai Scholar 👍 

 

Somrak was incredible of course. If only they'd given him a title shot... 

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This is just a crazy example of persistence hunting. Chamuakpet hunting down Oley, one of the most underrated fighters of his era. Very difficult to make Oley look bad, and in fact Oley looks imperturbable. Chamuakpet circling, circling, pressuring, almost losing ringcraft. Knees and hands, knees and hands, lots of hands, everything is about staying in the distance, creating that pressure, that bubble, until it pops. A really incredible fight.

 

 

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On 1/27/2020 at 10:38 PM, Snack Payback said:

Interesting, I didn't know the fight was at 126 lb. Boonlai won his first Lumpinee belt the following year, 1992, at 115 lb. So probably an even bigger step up in weight for him. He won his 122 lb Lumpinee belt in 1994.  

Thinking about this, there is a similiar fight to Somrak's mastery over Boonlai, aided by weight differences, and that is the famous 1988 Samart "Teep Fight" vs 1986 Fighter of the Year Panomthuanlek Hapalang. What is consistently missed in this magical dominance of another yodmuay is that surely there must have been a massive weight advantage for Samart. Just looking at it now, you can really see it. To give an idea, in Pathomthuanlek's Fighter of the Year year he won the 115 and 118 lb Lumpinee Titles. In 1987 he became the 122 lb champion. In 1987 Samart said he lost his WBC belt because of a terrible weight cut trying to get down to 122. These men just are not the same size. Pathomthuanlek was likely fighting UP to get to 122, Samart couldn't even easily get to 122 at that point (he was the 126 lb Lumpinee champion in 1981).

I don't know what weight this fight was at, but it's very interesting that probably the most dominant factor in the entire fight is practically invisible if you aren't looking for it. It just looks like a magical performance of teep juggling by a master, and then a beautiful finish. We aren't even thinking that there is maybe a two weight class difference between the two fighters. Also interesting is that Samart plays it much like Somrak did, when facing an elite talent who is well below them in weight, he turns off his weapons. In this case he's just teep juggling, in Somrak's case he refused to punch. But Samart is more of a killer than Somrak, and goes for the KO when it presents itself. But, it goes to show as well, if you give an elite Muay Femeu fighter big weight they suddenly look untouchable, magnifying their greatness. Flip it around and make Samart the much small fighter, and it looks very different. Thinking about weight and its hidden visual impact is a preoccupation of mine lately, mostly because if you are are going to be visually impactful as the smaller fighter, you need specific tactics or strategies. There are optics to overcome, as well as physical disparities and geometries.

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Huge Weight Differences not Uncommon

I should say, or at least add, that it seems that these kinds of weight differences were not unheard of, and in fact may have been common. As Dieselnoi once said of the "yodmuay" of today, comparing them to those of the Golden Age, in the past a yodmuay would fight everybody. It's not just that the structure of greatness has changed in contemporary times, with a drastically smaller talent pool, or a mega gym like PKSaenchai hoarding all the talent, so that there are far, far fewer great vs great matchups (that, yes), but also that yodmuay of the past would not only fight all or most the elite fighters of their own weight class multiple times, they would also fight well out of their weight class vs champions well above them. Sometimes way above them. You fought everyone, and therefore, you lost. The year after the Samart vs Panomthuanlek size mis-match, you had Panomthuanlek's yodmuay brother, Chamuakpet fight Sangtiennoi. From available records, this was the 122 lb Rajadamnern Champion vs the 130 lb Rajadamnern Champion (leaping over an entire weight class, 126 lbs). Holy hell. with Chamuakpet winning (beating him for the 2nd time).

Chamuakpet vs Sangtiennoi June 1989 - 122 lb champion vs 130 lb champion.PNG

People ask, What made Golden Age Yodmuay so great? Part of it was that they were not only fighting in the greatest talent pool in Muay Thai history, even the 3rd or 4th best fighter in a weight class was a historic killer, when you peaked at a weight you went up and fought the very best above you, and even further above you again. You fought up until you hit a ceiling.

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One of my favorite fights, with one of my favorite fighters (Namphon). I don't know why Namphon touches me so much. Such a beautiful fighter, with so much dignity, but who history (both western and Thai) seems to have not fully appreciated. Perhaps I was touched by the look in Namkabuan's eyes when talking about how amazing his brother was, only a few short months before Namphon died. In any case, just a beautiful fight, two months after Dekkers was was kindly gifted with a win over him on foreign soil. Watch that first fight again, a blowout for Namphon (at least in Thai scoring), but given to Dekkers. In this fight the re-match Namphon out-boxes and low-kicks the Dutch fighter (a style known for both), and leaves the clinch out of it until the final round. He already knew he could destroy Dekkers in the clinch, as he did in the first fight for endless stretches; instead he just out techniques him in space, until the 5th when the fight is out of hand. Then he shows what he could have done, if we wished. I love that he left his biggest weapon off the table. And I love the look on Namphon's face in the first round, after Dekkers throws his opening bad-blood strikes, the quiet progression of Namphon's resolve, the slow boil of his dissection and pressure. And I love that weird little tight bounce he develops in the 3rd when he's saying, OK it's time to go.

Not sure what weight this was fought at, but Dekkers very likely had a significant weight advantage (which I've heard was common for his fights in Thailand). The first fight versus Namphon in Holland was at 140 lb. Namphon was a 126 lb Lumpinee Champion. That is a lot of weight to give up to a power puncher.

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In thinking about big size differences in the Golden Age, I now recall when we filmed with Boonlai for the Library. We were talking about his career, and his fight with Namkabuan came up. One of the most interesting things in all he said was that he felt it unsportsmanlike that Namkabuan to plow him across the ring. He said something to the order: "Come on now, you are much bigger than me! Why do you have to plow?!" This is pretty notable in that Namkabuan's power plow was a big part of his arsenal. It was kind of a signature move. Boonlai legitimately questioned why he had to bring his big gun out against a smaller opponent. This maybe says something to the way that Somrak fought Boonlai and Samart fought Panomtuanlek, pulling their weapons back against smaller opponents, displaying their artfulness. It also may even touch on how Namphon pulled back his clinch vs the larger Dekkers, treating the bigger fighter as if he were smaller.

Boonlai Defeats Karuhat - shows Sylvie.jpg

This was Boonlai really reveling in his victory over Karuhat. This is despite Karuhat being physically smaller than him. Karuhat held the 122 lb Lumpinee belt, but he tells us that he walked around slightly under 122. There was a whole world of mixed-weight class fighting then, and perhaps unspoken rules about how to fight these fights. 

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7 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

In thinking about big size differences in the Golden Age, I now recall when we filmed with Boonlai for the Library. We were talking about his career, and his fight with Namkabuan came up. One of the most interesting things in all he said was that he felt it unsportsmanlike that Namkabuan to plow him across the ring. He said something to the order: "Come on now, you are much bigger than me! Why do you have to plow?!" This is pretty notable in that Namkabuan's power plow was a big part of his arsenal. It was kind of a signature move. Boonlai legitimately questioned why he had to bring his big gun out against a smaller opponent. This maybe says something to the way that Somrak fought Boonlai and Samart fought Panomtuanlek, pulling their weapons back against smaller opponents, displaying their artfulness. It also may even touch on how Namphon pulled back his clinch vs the larger Dekkers, treating the bigger fighter as if he were smaller.

 

This was Boonlai really reveling in his victory over Karuhat. This is despite Karuhat being physically smaller than him. Karuhat held the 122 lb Lumpinee belt, but he tells us that he walked around slightly under 122. There was a whole world of mixed-weight class fighting then, and perhaps unspoken rules about how to fight these fights. 

Yes, I remember Boonlai talking about this in the library session. It's a pity his win against Namkabuan isn't on youtube. Their 2nd fight is there, which Namkabuan wins. I'd also really like to see Boonlai's fight against Wangchannoi as well. Hopefully they'll both be uploaded in future.  Do you think you'll film another session for the library with Boonlai at some point?


Talking of big size differences and Namkabuan plowing made me think of his fight against Chatchai Paiseetong. Namkabuan looks significantly bigger than Chatchai. In the 5th round Namkabuan comes out and just plows, throws Chatchai around the ring. Do you think he's worried he's losing the fight going into the final round so tries to put on as dominant a display as possible against his smaller opponent?
 

 

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11 minutes ago, Snack Payback said:

Do you think you'll film another session for the library with Boonlai at some point?

It would really take him making a change in his life. Where he is was very difficult to access, and it made for an odd (albeit special) session. If he finds his way to a regular gym we'd love to film with him again, and interview him too!

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This is just an unbelieveable fight. If you are tuned into clinch dynamics, this has so much in it. Wangchannoi opens up the first round ripping off a beautiful vocabulary of strikes, hunting out the holes in Cherry's conservative guard. He's just being waited out by his much larger opponent. Then the dern hunting starts. Cherry slowly collapses all the fighting space, imposing myself on Wangchannoi with gradual, sure suffocation. Wanchannoi's famous hands just disappear. It's all Cherry who is just eclipsing Wangchannoi who more than once loses his composure if just from fatigue and spatial pressure. Then the most amazing thing happens. Instead of changing strategy (get back you your hands! - right?), he instead does something remarkable. He starts to build out a frame from the inside out, and disputes Cherry's narrative.

 

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One of the great performances ever by Attachai vs Namsaknoi. The 3rd round when he pulls away in the fight is just surreal. He's facing a yodmuay who clearly has a weight and height advantage, and is known for his ability to finish off opponents in the clinch after more femeu openings. Namsaknoi has talked about how he wasn't able to make weight for this fight and had to give up his fight purse. He's also talked about how fighting southpaws caused him trouble because it takes away his lead leg body kick to the open side. It seems pretty clear that the gamblers made this a draw. You can see Attachai surprised and confused in the final stretch of the 5th round when suddenly he seems told he should go and score. The biggest pleasure of this fight, and I'm not even a Muay Femeu fan, is how Attachai negates the otherwise unstoppable progression of Namsaknoi from Muay Femeu to Muay Khao in fights. Check out his fight vs Saenchai another southpaw elite fighter, who was even smaller, to see what he can do with his size. He was a next-gen Namkabuan who also could fight Femeu, and then in the 4th round could overpower his opponents in the clinch, combining both styles. The fact that Namsaknoi had size, and everyone knows that he is coming to put his size on Attachai, you can see it happening but that it fails to be dominant, is what puts this fight in Attachai's column. Part of fights is understanding the expectation, and seeing whether a fighter can execute the game that is promised. The 3 trips by Attachai to start out the 4th round are crazy impactful. You just don't do that to Namsaknoi. What an underrated fighter. Namsaknoi has counted this as his hardest fight in interviews.

 

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  • 2 months later...

Namphon is my favorite (underrated) fighter. I just love him and his dignity. Known for his relentless fighting, getting cut a ton, it seems like he was on the short end of some decisions that maybe were reputation decisions, a lack of respect for his game. He owned Dekkers in their first fight, but was given the loss. In one of his fights against Samart it seems he just couldn't climb out of the "he's just a knee fighter" rep, as Samart dangle-armed his way to victory. This fight is one of my favorites of his. He fights the entire fight backwards, from the bell, vs the bigger, more powerful punching Orono.  He out-femeu'd him, made him chase and chase. And in the 4th unleased beautiful, overwhelming boxing. But that doesn't mean it wasn't an exciting fight. Orono keeps on coming, building more and more momentum to a possible decision win. So much good stuff in this fight. Lots of windshield wiper frame offs, long guard shocks to take the pace of the powerful southpaw's punches.

 

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