Top 5 Best Thai Boxers

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Best Boxers from Thailand in Boxing History

Today, the term Thai boxer is bound to conjure up images of elbows and kicks in the world of mixed martial arts. But Thai boxers, traditional boxers, have been many and successful over the years, including some huge names and legends. Take a look at this list of the top 5 Thai boxers of all time.

  1. Khaosai Galaxy (Career: 1984-1996): With a thick and muscled torso, suggesting a fighter several weight classes bigger, set on top of a pair of pipe cleaner legs, Galaxy was a fearsome physical threat. When watching him and reviewing his string of dominance, one would be hard-pressed to name a better 115-pounder. Galaxy could be hit and his chin was vulnerable—making for some very exciting encounters. Lost his 7th pro fight in 1981, but went 42-0 (37 KOs) over the next decade. Won vacant WBA belt in 1984, making 19 defenses, 16 coming by knockout, before retiring as champion. A very unique, spirited, and exceptionally hard-punching fighter.

    Credit: Scott Mallon / From Wikipedia

  2. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Career: 1994-present): While he rightfully catches some flack for benefiting from the questionable Thai practice of champions facing neophytes in non-title fights, his record is outstanding. Has enjoyed a late-career renaissance that took his legacy to the next level. The crafty southpaw is on a 15-year/75-fight run that has seen him lose only once, and that to a fighter he has twice beaten. Reigned as WBC Flyweight Champion from 2001-2007, making 17 defenses, including wins over unbeaten Malcolm Tunacao, future champions Luis Lazarte and Gilberto Keb-Baas, 23-0 Hussein Hussein, and a 34-second knockout of future-champ and conqueror Daisuke Naito. Considered over-the-hill after losing and drawing with Naito in 2007 and 2008, but rebounded with an upset over unbeaten new champion Koki Kameda to reclaim the WBC title he first won a decade ago. Has scored 2 defenses, bringing his record to 82-3-1 (45 KOs).
  3. Veeraphol Sahaprom (Career: 1994-2010): A fighter who strangely never received much recognition, Sahaprom beat WBA Bantamweight Champion Daorung Chuvatana (55-5-1) in his 4th fight in 1995, losing in his first defense to hard-hitting Nana Konadu. Rebuilt and developed some more experience, before knocking out tough WBC champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi to win the title. Repeated the knockout in his 2nd defense and beat outstanding contender Adan Vargas in his 3rd. Incredibly, made 4 defenses (2-0-2) against Toshiaki Nishioka—currently the top 122-pounder in the world. In total, made 14 title defenses before losing to Hozumi Hasegawa at age 36.
  4. Be sure to check out the rest of our Boxing: The Best of a Nation series for more top 5 and 10 lists of the best boxers from different countries and locales.
  5. Pone Kingpetch (Career: 1954-1966): You won’t find too many fighters with a record of 28-7 who accomplished more than the under-appreciated Thai. With two wins over Pascual Perez and a triumph over Fighting Harada, Kingpetch claimed the scalps of two of the best lighter-weight fighters of all time and a pair of surefire Hall of Famers. In his last great moment, the former Flyweight Champion reversed a first-round knockout loss to exact revenge on 38-1-1 Hiroyuki Ebihara.
  6. Chartchai Chionoi (Career: 1959-1975): Fierce-fighting and slashing former Flyweight Champion came up the hard way. Finally made some headway with a win over top Italian Salvatore Burruni, before annexing the WBC crown from Walter McGowan by knockout. Stopped McGowan in the rematch, before taking 2 of 3 against tough Efren Torres. Lost belt in 1970 and appeared finished. Showing the heart of champion, he came back and claimed Masao Ohba’s old belt after the Japanese champion tragically died at 23. Defended twice before losing his belt for the final time in 1974.

So when you think of Thai boxing, don’t just think about MMA. Think about, well, boxing, and these great boxers from Thailand who have stepped through the ropes over the years.

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5 comments

  1. I’ll be honest this list leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Wonjongkam and Galaxy should tie for number 5, AT BEST. Wonjongkam hardly fought anybody notable, we all know it, why do we continue to convince ourselves otherwise? Who was his best win? Naito? Sosa? Kameda? Exactly.

    As for Galaxy; his numerous title defenses may be the most overrated accomplishment in boxing history. Again, who did he beat? Orono, Pical, Kim. With Contreras probably being his best win. Doesn’t sound too legendary, does it? How about who he DIDN’T fight: Canizales, Raul Perez, Wilfredo Vasquez, Sung-kil Moon, Jiro Watanabe, Gilberto Roman, for whatever reasons. It’s still a shame.

    So who should be number 1? Take your pick; Venice Borkhorsor, Pone Kingpetch, Veeraphol Sahaprom, Chartchai Chionoi.

    I’d personally go with Borkhorsor: Beat Fernando Cabanela, outboxed Salavarria, knocked out Guerrero, beat the living hell out of Betulio Gonzalez. And his fight with Rafael Herrera could’ve gone either way.

    There’s your man. And he didn’t even make this list.

    • I guess it’s all about perception. Whereas you say I’m blowing the actual merit of Galaxy and Pongsaklek out of proportion, I could easily say you’re guilty of mythologizing the likes of Betulio Gonzalez (who was very good) and especially Erbito Salavarria and Julio Guerrero. Apparently you think Borkhorsor’s wins over that group somehow usurps a decade-long run as champion, albeit with a less-than-stellar roster of challengers. Or a 7-year long knockout frenzy with almost 20 defenses, again, not against the best lot. I concede that.

      It’s just I would like to see you counter with something more than a fighter with one title defense who you think should be number-one somehow. With Ohba and Chionoi also reigning, Borhhorsor was never the top guy in the division, he was 2-2 in title fights, and while I might agree he was a better fighter at his absolute peak than some on this list–that’s not the criteria I use. Making all-time lists is about having a full body of work. It’s about being the clear-cut best in your division, or being dominant over a long period of time.

      You’re perhaps making it more about who you thought was an awesome fighter and you then project all these qualities on them without them really having the track record to substantiate your placements. Like how you look at Samart. I agree, he was awesome. But me thinking that needs to be backed up with more than a win over an old Pintor and a Kid Meza who had just lost to Pintor. Nice wins, but who should I take off this list to make room for that? Did you see him get filleted by Fenech?

      • Scott,

        It comes down to who you beat. (Consistency is a plus.) Compare the men I mentioned’s top wins to Galaxy’s. I don’t care, whatsoever, if next to Galaxy’s wins there’s “Super Flyweight Title defense.” They’re still cans, regardless. A title defense against a can doesn’t trump a quality victory. You’re a fan of boxing — you know how long “Championships” haven’t meant piss.

        You devalue Borkhorsor’s career because he had just “one title defense”? Lol. I guess Sam Langford, Harry Wills, Packey McFarland, etc,. don’t have a claim to greatness either?

        Galaxy was “dominant” in a terrible division and didn’t bother fighting the men I originally listed.

        By the way, have you ever actually ever seen Khaosai box? It’s pitiful, to say the least. Look up his brother, Khaoker; he was the more talented fighter. But obviously doesn’t have the resume behind him.

  2. Oh, and Samart Payakaroon should’ve, at least, gotten an honorable mention. C’mon man!

    Payakaroon could be the most talented striker in the history of mankind! And undoubtedly the most talented thai to make a name for himself in western boxing.

  3. “You’re perhaps making it more about who you thought was an awesome fighter and you then project all these qualities on them without them really having the track record to substantiate your placements. Like how you look at Samart. I agree, he was awesome. But me thinking that needs to be backed up with more than a win over an old Pintor and a Kid Meza who had just lost to Pintor. Nice wins, but who should I take off this list to make room for that? Did you see him get filleted by Fenech?”
    _______________________________________

    This deserved its own comment.

    I never said Payakaroon deserved to be on this list. It’s obvious he doesn’t have the international boxing resume to do so. I said he should be an ‘honorable mention.’ This list is about teaching fans about Thailand-boxing; thus, he deserves a MENTION.

    And don’t snuff at me like that, dude (in regard to Fenech/Payakaroon). Of course I’ve seen the fight. Fenech is a great fighter and Samart was past it. Yes, Samart was 25 — but that’s after hundreds and hundreds of combined Muay Thai and boxing matches since the age of 4. Thai’s peak and fall off WAY sooner than everybody else. These guys have been fighting professionally since they’re babies (another thing that should’ve been mentioned). Galaxy fought until the age he did because he was so sub-par at Muay Thai, he transitioned to boxing and didn’t fight as much as his Muay Thai countrymen.

    Point being: Payakaroon is, by far, the most TALENTED Thai to come over to boxing.

    Again, this should be about teaching new fans about the culture of these countries covered. Otherwise, what’s the point of separating them by nationality?

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