Dieselnoi is my hero, it’s no secret. Over the years of knowing him, I’ve been influenced by him as a fighter, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, in ways that I couldn’t even articulate fully. He’s had massive impact on me, in how I think about Muay Thai, how I think about training and fighting and the honor of self-responsibility. We text to each other into the night, until his thumbs get tired and he just changes over to voice messages, or just calls me. And yet, he cuts such a huge shape in my life, I still get nervous around him, despite our familiarity. I don’t think that ever goes away.
Dieselnoi’s hero is Wichannoi. Wichannoi Porntawee was a already a champion when Dieselnoi was born (so says Dieselnoi), and he fought for such a long time that his career reached into the Golden Age, and indeed he and Dieselnoi fought – 3 times – with Wichannoi taking the first two fights. Dieselnoi is hugely influenced by Wichannoi, something that I didn’t fully appreciate until I saw them together, watched how Dieselnoi talked to his hero, as well as about him. It was incredible for me, to watch my great influence interact with his great influence. I’m a ripple after the ripple that is Dieselnoi, one of the greatest of all time.
And even though Wichannoi influenced Dieselnoi, and then he in turn influenced me (and countless others, although perhaps more and less directly based on who you’re looking at), the two are actually very different men. Seeing those differences, in how they conduct themselves nearly as opposites, was beautiful to me. But their values, their masculinity and what makes a real fighter and what makes a Yodmuay is the same. And I couldn’t be more different than the two of them in many ways, and yet, I share that value. I don’t think I “got it” from Dieselnoi, but rather that we “get” each other so strongly because it’s a value in our very being – and it was so inspiring to see it, potently represented, in Wichannoi as well, even as he was a 70-year-old man, overweight and decades removed from the gym. It’s who he is. It’s who he would be even if he’d never stepped foot in a ring. But thank God he did. How many people will ever be able to say they sat at a table with two of the greatest Legends of all time, chatting to each other about Muay Thai, training, each other as Legends and each other as opponents to one another. I was there, that’s my gift; but we had a camera, and that’s everyone’s gift..
Watch the translated Wichannoi and Dieselnoi conversation (turn on English subtitles):
read more about this conversation, and learn about Wichannoi’s greatness:
Watch Kevin and me talk about the things we loved in the Wichannoi and Dieselnoi conversation, in this Library Coffee episode: