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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Sagat Wasn't the Real the Inspiration for the "Sagat" Street Fighter Character...Dieselnoi Was

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The Fight That Inspired the "Sagat" Character?

There is a new series of clips put out by a Japanese collector from the 2nd fight between Diesenoi and Sagat. I will say, this edit was very kind to Sagat, it was a fight that in late rounds he was significantly frustrated and defeated, honestly looking like he was losing heart at one point. Instead, in this clip you see the dynamic clashes. You can watch the new clips here:


watch the clip here

Who Inspired "Sagat"?

The surfacing of the video brings up "eyeball evidence" of the very real likelihood that the actual presiding inspiration for the Sagat Street Fighter character was not essentially Sagat himself - who very obviously was borrowed from (his name), and some aspects of his likeness possibly copied - but rather was perhaps Dieselnoi who won the fight going away. You can see from this photo who was the towering unbeatable fighter between them:



The Sagat character is 7'5" (226 cm). Dieselnoi above, upon defeating the heavier fighter Sagat for the 2nd time in a handful of months, was cementing his position as possibly the most unbeatable fighter of all time. It is he who is the towering giant. What I suspect is that Dieselnoi's absolute dominance over Sagat, his relentless, unbeatable style, was fused together with the likeness and proud, prowling nature of Sagat Petchyindee, to make a Muay Thai Frankenstein of parts of greatness. Because the videos of those fights have been lost to us (as well as the video of Dieselnoi beating the legendary Samart, a few years earlier - luckily refound, watch it here with Dieselnoi's commentary) , we, separated by decades, have lost just how incredibly imposing Dieselnoi actually was. He literally ran out opponents in his prime of fighting. We all knew that, but until you see it, you can't know it.




Now, it's very clear that the Sagat character is based on Sagat Petchyindee in numerous obvious ways, and it has been painful for Sagat to have never received remuneration for the use of his likeness. And it is also clear that the character possesses fight qualities of Sagat, including his penchant for the uppercut. But, I would suggest, the very spirit of Sagat as a towering unbeatable Thai fighter was in significant part taken from the actual towering unbeatable Thai fighter, and probably even from these two Sagat fights, or this single fight, where Dieselnoi claimed the throne, dominantly. It wasn't a close fight. The Japanese legend of Sagat the fighter was also likely derived from this fight of his in Japan, facing Raktae where Raktae plays the part of a punching bag in what borders on looking like a showfight.




Further evidence of Dieselnoi's inspiration? Was this a design clue left behind by the creator of Sagat, giving him a characteristic scar on his chest? Dieselnoi also has a distinctive keloid scar that can be seen in all the photos of him in his prime. Hmmmm.


We also have to remember, aside from the Tiger Uppercut, Sagat possessed the Tiger Knee. True, more a flying knee like the one appreciated and borrowed from Muay Thai by high profile Japanese kickboxers. But yes, Sagat possessed devastating knees, perhaps another nod to Dieselnoi.




All this is to say that when contemplating the impact on combat sports, because of the lack of fight video Dieselnoi's immense imprint has been significantly lost or diluted. The possible origin of at least part of the Sagat Street Fighter character in Diesenoi stemming from these fights where the two faced off actually got Sagat - who is a beautiful and wonderful fabulist and tale spinner - to state in a much read interview that he had actually beaten Dieselnoi two times out of three (instead of losing to him two times out of two) - that interview has recently been corrected, it was no fault of their own, they were only reporting what was said. It was only when directly asking both Dieselnoi and Sagat ourselves, what the record between them was did we confirm that it was 2-0 for Dieselnoi. In Dieselnoi's laughing response "He talks a lot of shit, he never beat me". Unfortunately all over the English speaking internet, in countless articles like this one, including Sagat's present Wikipedia page, is the claim that he had beaten the incredible Diesenoi twice, almost as proof of his own Sagat-ness. It might be like Joe Frazier stating in a foreign language interview that he beat Muhammad Ali all three times they fought, in their famous trilogy. People in Thailand of course knew the results of these fights, they were famous. But in the English speaking West, to show how far we are removed from actual Muay Thai history, we readily took in this re-write of history, as not only true, but also evidence of Sagat's greatness. We have the great irony through the absence of video record, that for decades Samart became proclaimed the unquestionable GOAT, and Sagat proclaimed the "Sagat" of video game prowess, despite Dieselnoi actually proving his dominance over both fighters in otherwise unseen fights. Because we could not see how dominant Dieselnoi was, the lack of video helped us imagine that it was only size that beat Samart - it wasn't - and to accept the false memory that Sagat had bested Dieselnoi.


I love Sagat. He is a spectacular and marvelous man and fighter, deserving of remembrance and celebration. Every time we see him its a joy. But somewhere along the way we lost the incredible dominance of Dieselnoi, a loss that probably reflects itself on the effacement of his likely strong inspiration for some of the most stand out qualities of Street Fighter's "Sagat". He is a kind of the "inner" Sagat.



Unfortunately the full video of Dieselnoi vs Sagat has not been released by collectors. But there is great hope that with the release of these new clips one day the world will see the video of the fight that likely helped give birth the "Sagat" character of Street Fighter, where game maker combined all that was terrifying in both of these fighters. Perhaps it would be fair to take the working hypothesis that as the video of Dieselnoi's victory over Sagat permeated Japan in 1985 and 1986, Takashi Nishiyama created a character that brought the two together, which debuted in 1987. It's as if Mike Tyson had famously faced off against an incredible tall, relentless unbeatable fighter, and lost definitively. What if Mike Tyson was the same size and as impervious as this towering foe? Yes, he would look something like Mike Tyson, but he would be something much more. The spirit would be of the unbeatable tower. Because for so long the fight itself has been lost, all we had was the evidence of physical resemblance, and a name passed on. What has been at stake though is the legacy of the most unbeatable Muay Thai fighter in Thailand's history. How he will be remembered for generations to come.


You can see Dieselnoi watch his fight vs the presumed GOAT Samart here, a year and a half before the Sagat showdown:


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Was the World Free-Style Martial Arts Championships held in Bangkok in 1982 the Premise for Street Fighter Itself?

A bit of further evidence for the looming presence of Dieselnoi as absolutely unbeatable in the Japanese mind was his performance at the World Free-Style Martial Arts Championships held in Bangkok in 1982, 8 months before Dieselnoi would beat Samart. The Japanese brought a huge contingent of fighters set on proving that they could hang with the Thais. All of the Japanese fighters were beaten, and some were blown out by the Thais (except for one who won because the Thai was disqualified for clowning him). Dieselnoi took only a minute and a half to destroy his Japanese counterpart in the final. Dieselnoi giggled to us, recounting that he cut his knee on his opponent's tooth, showing us the scar that remains to this day. While other prominent Thais participated and prevailed, like Nongkai, I'm sure none of them made the immense impression that Dieselnoi made.

The report from Black Belt magazine:



Dieselnoi Just Ragdolling An Opponent at the Event

If you want to see what kind of stories came back to Japan from this event, two and half years before Dieselnoi would dispatch with Sagat, it wasn't just the 1:30 1st round obliteration of the Japanese fighter in the championship round. It was likely these kinds of matchups against international competition in earlier rounds. Here is faces a TKD fighter at the championships:


watch it here

You can see where seeds of the mythic proportions of a giant fighter from Thailand must have been planted in the Japanese martial arts community. If there was a nightmare boogieman figure of the unbeatable fighter from Thailand, it wasn't Sagat Petchyindee, it was Dieselnoi. This was Sagat-like.

Both Dieselnoi and "Sagat" Lorded Over an International "World Championship:

Note, in the first version of Street Fighter the World Championship "Sagat" is hosting (The World Fighting Championship[1] (ワールドバトルトーナメント Wārudo Batoru Tōnamento?, "World Battle Tournament") to prove his greatness, is very much like the one that Dieselnoi dominated in 1982. Sagat Petchyindee was not a part of that Championship. It may not be a stretch to imagine that the entire physical premise of Street Fighter engagements was inspired by that 1982 World Championships in Bangkok. Black Belt magazine some years later would over-dramatically remember this championship as "...the meanest, no-holds-barred tournament in the Far East".


Sagat is the "Emperor of Muay Thai”, the greatest Muay Thai fighter there is. But that isn't enough for him. He wants to be the greatest fighter in the world! He hosted the first World Warrior tournament to prove it, and great warriors from around the world came to prove their strength. He fires Tiger Shots and also uses the hopping Tiger Knee.

- Street Fighter Wiki


"Sagat" is the "Emperor of Muay Thai". As the Black Belt Magazine article tells us, at the time of the event Dieselnoi was known as the "King of the Ring".

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This is not an original observation on my part, but I definitely have been thinking about it and weighing the possibility for some time, gathering evidence. The first time I read the suggestion was in this blog post from 2015, which points out that that in Street Fighter II "Sagat" was much lankier; unfortunately though the author perpetuated the false history that Sagat had beaten Dieselnoi which he takes as a knock against his own suggestion:


It was not enough for a video game that the Muay Thai master was just an average person. As the final opponent in Street Fighter he had to become much more imposing figure and present a genuine challenge to audiences. The designers at Capcom made the one-eyed fighter into a seven-foot giant. He had a reach advantage, a strength advantage and used a fighting form that was considered more dangerous than karate. The name Sagat was based on Sagat Petchyindee, a Muay Thai fighter that dominated tournaments in the early '80s and undoubtedly made its way into the psyche of the Japanese developers. Although Sagat has always been illustrated as an incredibly muscular man in Street Fighter II he was much lankier. There was another Muay Thai legend that likely inspired this design. Dieselnoi Chor. Thanasukarn was 6' 2", possibly 6' 3" tall, and had a considerable reach and size advantage over most of his opponents. Although he was thin he packed a powerful knee, a "Sky Piercing Knee" according to legend. The character of Sagat was known for his knee strikes as well so it is entirely possible that Dieselnoi had a hand in influencing the developers on Street Fighter. Dieselnoi was such a formidable champion that after several years at the top he was forced into retirement when he could not find an opponent in his same class. Although to be fair Sagat Petchyindee was one of the few to ever defeat Dieselnoi.

- How Fight Culture Became Fight History, part 12 <<< read the rest here


A graphic from the blog post:


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Sagat is 'inspired' or rather, ripped off from the character Reiba, from the 70s manga 'Karate Master'. Right down to the eyepatch (although to their credit, they put it on the other eye


R.Mika's Training Room: Sagat, Adon y el Muay Thai


That + taking a recognisable, easy to pronounce name, and a busted moveset = many many broken nintendo controllers. 

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19 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This is not an original observation on my part, but I definitely have been thinking about it and weighing the possibility for some time, gathering evidence. The first time I read the suggestion was in this blog post from 2015, which points out that that in Street Fighter II "Sagat" was much lankier; unfortunately though the author perpetuated the false history that Sagat had beaten Dieselnoi which he takes as a knock against his own suggestion:


A graphic from the blog post:


Great read! definitely a hybrid of the two! Even the way Dieselnoi wears his shorts is the same as the game character! 

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Here's a lot more, written in Thai (which I don't read, but I'll probably Google translate and bug Sylvie about), about the Reiban "Karate Master" connection, with Japanese language shots of Sagat Petchyindee and Dieselnoi (the publication of which, I believe, some of which of this kind preceded the release of the game), and cells from the Karate Master manga which show Reiban to be very tall indeed, some of the images reproduced below:




It's quite interesting, for our theory, that in this manual above you have Sagat and Dieselnoi sitting on opposite pages - the author uses this photo to support the possible influence of Sagat Petchyindee on the character, but does not seem to be aware of their fight history, or consider the impact Dieselnoi may have had on the Japanese fight imagination up to that point.






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