Jump to content
Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

What REALLY Made Samart Special...He Fought in Cowboy Time in the Age of Hard Men

Recommended Posts

I've been reflecting on the untouchable aura of Samart, on what made him like no other fighter, & I return to something Yodkhunpon said. He was talking about the fighters b4 the Golden Age. The Silver Age, or what might be called Cowboy Time. We showed him a fight between Thongbai & Adul. Thongbai was ripping low kicks endlessly. He said: In that Time u could fight like that. In my time the fighters would move [and he gestured that they would move like the wind, they would just be gone]. He then showed how the men of the past were HARD The Time before the Golden Age was Cowboy Time. The men had a made-in-stone toughness, I suspect. In the way that you might talk about your grandfather who had brick hands. This is just my working theory, but I think what made Samart like no other wasn't only his muay, but it was his time in history. He actually fought his last stadium fight before the 1990s, when the Golden Age wld b peaking. But, what he did was he bridged Cowboy Time with the Age of Femeu. He was the first to move like that, to dance, coming out of the Time of Hard Men. Perhaps just as Babe Ruth was the greatest Home run hitter of All Time because he was the first to really hit them monstrously, inventing the home run, maybe Samart holds an incredibly special place because he was the 1st to really float & move like that among the time of hard men, bridging Cowboy Time. And, he did this in parallel to the Hardest Man, Dieselnoi. The great Age of Femeu followed him, maybe flowed from him. Perhaps how the Age of the Dunk flowed from Dr. J in basketball. He was a transcendent fighter This is still just guessing, from afar, but it's something I've gleaned from looking back on eras and talking to greats. Yes, u can appreciate and swoon over his muay in retrospect, comparing techniques, but unless you include the time & men he fought in you can't quite grasp What it was like to see him move and hit like that. The hardness of the men he came into, that is what gives context to the freedom of the movements, their creativity and contrasted liberation. After him there were so many femeu and fluid fighters, the early to mid 90s were filled w/ them. But Samart was the 1 who danced among the men of stone. There is a place special and reserved for those who create a style so different from those around them. It's not just honorary, these fighters possess a quality in their muay that is unparalleled & unique. Began as a Twitter thread here.



  • Like 1
  • Super Slick 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do I mean, Cowboy Time, The Age of Hard Men. This isn't something I could ever be an expert in, something I can only glimpse from a far. But sometimes from afar you can see things. What comes to mind is the legend of Suk, The Giant Ghost, who happens to also be the grandfather of Sagat Petchyindee. Now, don't take this as a verbatim piece of history, but only my lasting impression from essays I read over the years. It all began with Suk:



above, a contrast of media image to Suk, Chuchai Prakanchai, peak years 1948-1951

There was apparently a movement within Muay Thai, and in Thai magazines that covered the sport in the 1950s, that moved away from the "handsome" matinee idol type of masculinity that had been favored, toward men like Suk. The powerful and transformative Prime Minister Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram lead a government that reduced the traditional power and imagery of Thai royalty (again, as I have read), and magazines of the era started celebrating powerful, brutal men like Suk - I'm guessing, not exclusively, but now inclusively. I believe he had been imprisoned for murder at some point, and had an aura of a tough, a nakleng. This move in Muay Thai expressed larger political moves to celebrate the common man, the man of the country. There always has been a tension in Muay Thai, between the courtly, beautiful, artistic muay of Bangkok, and the brute, powerful muay of the men of the fields, up country. It has often played out in urban vs rural, Femeu vs Muay Khao, royal vs worker, dichotomies, and even to this day this is the case. It is only to say that with the rise of Suk Muay Thai began to swing toward that Tough Man side of the pendulum, ideologically. 

if you want to read about the history of Tough Man Muay, this is the essay to read: Rural Male Leadership, Religion and the Environment in Thailand's Mid-south, 1920s-1960s (PDF attached)


This is enough to say that Bangkok Muay Thai likely came under the sway of a swing toward a more common-man, tough-guy, nakleng muay in the 1950s-1960s, a strong thread of it remaining in the 1970-1980s. You see epic fighters of the late 1970s like Wichannoi, thought by many to be the greatest fighter who ever fought, and you see that they are chiseled out of rock.

This is Padejsuek, fighting around the time that Dieselnoi was on the rise:


This is Gulapkao's photo along side his hero Wichannoi (below), wearing his 1985 Raja belt, a photo Gulapkao treasures on his phone:



Into the 1980s, even though there were artful, elite and celebrated fighters in the 1970s, there had never been a "Samart" through these decades of Hard Men. As Dieselnoi ascended at maybe the most dominant fighter of the physical, relentless kind, Samart had come onto the scene as a fighter who fought so relaxed, so fluid, who danced among the Hard Men. It must have been like he was from outer space.

Below, Wichannoi Porntawee who fought from the 1960s -1980s, the ultimate Man's man:


If you want clues to how hard men like Wichannoi fought, here is a great article on his style: Vicharnnoi Porntawee: Legacy of The Immortal Boxer


Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you see the first of something, of a kind of movement, a way of being or expressing itself, it sometimes becomes hallowed, and no matter what follows from it after, it can never be surpassed. Like, as mentioned above, how nobody could hit home runs like Babe Ruth. Even if you hit them higher, bigger, more mashy now, he out homered entire teams. Nobody could that that. He invented the Home Run, in his person.


Many have dunked, but Dr. J did it at a time when men, mostly white, didn't move like him. And for that reason nobody really has ever moved like him since. He was expressive of something in the 1970s, then into the 80s.


And, no matter the behemoth and beautiful CGI creations in the genre of Sci-Fi, the greatest Sci-Fi film will likely remain Kubrick's 2001 a Space Odyssey in 1969, over 50 years ago. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

What likely sets these "greatest" apart perhaps is the era in which they arose. Their creations in sport and art expressed something at a time in transition, of social upheaval and burgeoning. Be it race, or politics, or commercial art, these "1sts" told a new story at a time when a new story was needed. And Bangkok Muay Thai just at the time of Samart was in exactly this position. Thailand found itself bursting with economic growth. Rural workers flocked to Bangkok, the city flourished with investment. Thailand itself was under an evolution, and the Muay Thai of the Golden Age which he helped usher forward, into the 1990s (the Asian Financial crisis in 1997), was a new art-form, built on the bedrock of the Tough, Hard men of Cowboy Time, flourishing with the femeu legends of that era.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Most Recent Topics

  • Latest Comments

    • I found Peter Vail's dissertation again. Unfortunately, he does not cite the Burmese Chronicle: Vail repeats the omission in his article: MODERN "MUAI THAI" MYTHOLOGY.
    • Every injury is different, but a big part of my approach has been warm water massage, especially for shins, and to not use rest too much. Instead, active recovery:     You can also read this article I wrote a few years ago, which details my injuries and some of how I responded to them:  Large and Small – The Injuries and Ailments I’ve Had Fighting in Thailand
    • Hello to all the Nak Muay. I have been practicing Muay Thai for few years, I have always admired those fighters able have a strong body/stamina when come to practice and fight. So few years back then, I tried to register a semi pro fight, it is a great and worst experience to me throughout my life hahahah, I enjoyed and suffered a lot during the process. Since I was not a great athlete and my first time. I get a lot of injuries/sprain throughout my training, which lead to my main topic here, how did you recover/ heal your injuries during the training and post-fight? I had been carrying the injuries for few years and I went for few acupuncture sections and massage. It partially help, but does not fully recover from how I used to be. The injuries limited my strength and movement and became a burden even a stretching. Please kindly advice/share me your experiences, I wish to get rid of it.  Thank you 😊
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • I found Peter Vail's dissertation again. Unfortunately, he does not cite the Burmese Chronicle: Vail repeats the omission in his article: MODERN "MUAI THAI" MYTHOLOGY.
    • Great Step Taken. I would always admire Lumpinee as an inspiration!!!
    • I wanted to comment on this theme of MMA in regards also to what Kevin said on your last Muay-Thai Bones Podcast ep 26. Kevin spoke that he felt a red line had been crossed by allowing MMA in Lumpinee. He said He didnt want inferior MMA being shown there as one reason. He spoke of the inferior MMA of One Championship as compared to the UFC. Though the pool of fighters in One is smaller, it has for instance Team Lakay from the Philippines, and the Lee family of Hawaii:  Angela, Christian and now Victoria who could be champions in the UFC too, The UFC is best at exploiting and ruining the lives of its fighters who are subject to terrible contracts and endless bullying by this massive corporation.  Thank God One Championship exists, and many thanks to Chatri Sidyodtong for bringing Muay-Thai and Kickboxing into the program in 2018. The real problem of having MMA in Lumpinee is the problem of MMA itself. MMA usurped MuayThai years ago as the premier fighting art. In the early 90s when they had the first cage fights, it was also a contest of which style would prevail. Unfortunately BJJ 🤢 was the winner in those early years. Muay-Thai was only useful in standup, and striking could only prevail on the feet. If the fight went to the ground grapplers would prevail. Wrestlers, judokas jui jitsu, and sambo fighters could easily take down a stand-up fighter and submit or choke him out.  A third point which makes MMA the most attractive art is the streetfighting aspect which makes it more "realistic" to the bored average Western viewer. So MuayThai is seen as only one part, -and a less important aspect of MMA😢. What I am getting at basically is that from a Muay-Thai standpoint it would be better if MMA:                                         A) Never existed, or                                         B) Would just go away!😈
    • It was just announced that, starting January 8th of next year, Lumpinee will start promoting an afternoon show that is only children. There will be 4 bouts per card, starting at 1:30 PM. Children have been permitted to fight at Lumpinee for a long time, but there has always been a weight limit (and ostensibly an age limit, but I'm not sure what that was; the weight limit kind of takes care of the age limit at the same time) of 100 lbs. As it's been told to me by Legends and older fighters who entered Lumpinee at that 100 lbs minimum, it's a bit of a forgiving line and fighters sometimes had to eat and drink in order to try to hit 100 lbs, rather than anyone dropping down to it. This new show is lowering the weight limit to 80 lbs, which will allow younger fighters or will at least acknowledge what weight some of those fighters are actually at when they come to the stadium. The intention of the show is to give access and opportunity to dao rung or "rising stars" as they are called in Thai. It's unclear from the announcement who will be the promoter for this particular program, but it's in line with something that Sia Boat of Petchyindee had initiated and invested in for his own promotions prior to the most recent shutdowns from Covid. It is unlikely that this will include girls; but we'll see. Of note is that the graphic used for this announcement are two young fighters Jojo (red) and Yodpetaek (blue), two top young fighters are 12 and 13 years old, who recently fought to a draw on a high profile fight. Neither of these two fighters meet the weight requirement at 80 lbs.
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
    • Total Posts
  • Create New...