Ever since Muay Thai made its name as a combat sport and spread across the world, pro-fighters have been carving a name for themselves as well. This traditional form of fighting utilizes the 8-point technique and boasts of some of the greatest disciples to have ever graced the ring.
Some of the fighters that we’ll talk about in this article are purely from the Muay Thai background and some have switched-over from kickboxing or MMA. Over the years, there has been an influx of professional Muay Thai fighters, but only a selected few have been able to achieve the legendary status. This is because the competition is fierce, and perfecting this sport requires years of dedication and training.
10 Muay Thai legends that will be remembered throughout the history for their explosive display of techniques inside the ring
1. Samart Payakaroon
Fans call him the Muhammad Ali of Muay Thai. He is considered as one of the finest fighters to have graced the ring. He has multiple Lumpinee stadium championships under his name. Samart was awarded the best Thailand fighter thrice in his career. Ever since the 80s, Muay Thai is yet to see a fighter as good as this guy.
In addition to lightning-quick reflexes and technical skills, Samart was also known for being an unusually big puncher while fighting. He also had a brief stint in the western boxing where he won the WBC Junior Bantamweight title.
At the peak of his career, Samart was the master of the ‘ teep ‘ or push kick and hurled it with such speed and precision that his foot invariably collided with midsections of opponents, pushing them backwards and sometimes downwards. This awesome fighter retired with a record of 129-19-2 in Muay Thai and 21-2 in boxing.
2. Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn
In the Muay Thai world, he goes by” The Emperor”. Now retired, Namsaknoi is a legend who has won multiple awards and championships. He has the best Muay Thai record ever – 285 wins and just 15 losses in his professional career.
He has been unanimously voted as one of the greatest fighters of all time by the pros, media, and locals. Namsaknoi has won multiple division titles and held the Lumpinee Lightweight belt for 6 years at a stretch. His outstanding fighting techniques (Wai Kru) won him the award for Best Wai Kru Ram Muay of the year twice, in 2001 and 2006.
After retiring from the game, he spent a few years as a trainer in Southern Thailand, then returned to his home-town and opened his own Muay Thai gym.
3. Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn
Another legend from the 80s, he is known for both his skills and size. Standing at over 6 feet, he is the only fighter in Muay Thai history who used the knees to perform devastating attacks. He made his debut in the weight division of 32 kg. Dieselnoi is also called “The Little Diesel”, which seems to be an ironic nickname.
He beat Samart Payakaroon in a fight that showed how successful he was in scoring knee strikes and throwing his opponents out of place. After reigning as the Lumpinee Lightweight champion (135 lbs.) for four consecutive years, he was forced to retire as there was no one left in his weight division to fight.
Dieselnoi had the ultra-long, lean body that coaches Muay Thai drool over. Yet Dieselnoi not only dwarfed his rivals, he knew how to fight and, most importantly, he knew how to take advantage of his height. He ended his career with a record of 110-10-2. Later, he started to travel internationally and fight in mixed-style contests.
PS* Check out how Dieselnoi destroys American kickboxer Moncayo.
4. Put Lorlek
Back in the 1970s when Muay Thai was beginning to gain momentum, Lorlek was the name everyone knew. Considered as one of the best fighters, he was known for popularizing the infamous “femur” fighting style.
During 1975-77, he was considered the best fighter in Thailand by many sports writers. He was a fighter who made extremely good use of his motion in his fights. His fighting technique used effective maneuvers to force opponents into losing balance. The moves were aimed at throwing off the opponents charging towards him with aggression.
He is a legendary icon who deserves to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern-day Muay Thai.
5. Jomhod Kiatadisak
Also known as the “King of the Ring”, Jomhod started learning Muay Thai when he was 7 and won the first fight at 11. At the tender age of 16, he won the 1986 Southern Thailand Championship (59.6 kg), then moved to Bangkok for further professional training.
He won his first Lumpinee Lightweight title when he was 18 years old. He also won the Rachadamernn Championship (1994), and the Super Lightweight title (1995). At one stage of his career, he held titles in both stadiums simultaneously. In 1998, Jomhod beat his opponent by TKO in the 3rd round to win the Muay Thai Champion’s League belt in Amsterdam. In addition to Thai fighters, he has also beaten international legends such as Ole Laursen, Ramon Dekkers, and Eval Denton.
After winning more than 18 major titles throughout his career, Jomhod settled in Finland before returning to Thailand in 2006.
6. Ramon Dekkers
Talk about the best Muay Thai fighter from outside of Thailand, and Ramon Dekker is a well-known name. He is considered to be the best ever foreigner to ever fight in Thailand. Known as “The Diamond”, he is a highly-respected fighter.
His competitive toe-to-toe style and ability take on any opponent made him extremely exciting to watch, with many of his matches making their way to top fighting lists. Originally from Holland, Dekkers trained in different martial arts before settling with kickboxing. He has fought across the world, winning belts and accolades.
In fact, he was so good at it, the Royal Thai family awarded him for his services to Muay Thai. Owing to his fast-paced and aggressive fighting stance, he won the World Muay Thai championship 8 times. He fought his farewell fight in 2001. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 2013 in his hometown. Dekker is yet a respected name in Thailand’s fight clubs.
7. Dany Bill
Another foreigner who carved a name for himself in Muay Thai is Dany. Originally a French-Cameroon fighter, he became a seven-time World Muay Thai champion. He started training in 1986, and in 1988, he won the French Muay Thai championship (he was just 15 years). In 1993, he became the first European fighter to win the first world title in Thailand, beating Den Muang Surin.
Dany was world champion for 7 consecutive years. He defeated the world’s best fighters during his prime including the likes of Pananonlek, Saimai, Joel Cesar, Orono Por, and more.
During his career, he played 126 matches and won 115, out of which 40 were knock-out wins. He retired in 2012 and is now a professional Muay Thai trainer.
8. Buakaw Banchamek (Por Pramuk)
Although Buakaw hasn’t won many Lumpinee titles, he is one of the few Thai fighters who took Muay Thai to an international level. He is a known face globally. Buakaw is known to be the guy who put Muay Thai on the combat sport map.
He has never won a title at Rachadamernn or Lumpinee stadiums, but he rose to fame by winning the K-1 Max Tournament held in Japan twice, in 2004 and 2006. Over the years, he has added many more titles to his kitty.
He is still active with a professional record of 275 total matches and 239 wins (73 knock-outs). In addition to fighting professionally, he also is an actor and plays football as a forward for the RBAC F.C.
9. John Wayne Parr
An Australian kickboxer, John is nicknamed “The Gunslinger” because of his hand-gun motions he does during his Wai Kru prior to fights. He is remembered to have fought and won some of the biggest names in the Muay Thai world.
John is a former 10-time world champion and a runner-up on Contender Asia. At the age of 16, he had started participating in professional bouts. He won his first Australian title when he was 17 years old for the 63 kg category.
He trained with the legendary Thai fighter Sangtien Noi “Deadly Kisser”. In 1997, he was voted the best Farang Fighter of the Year. Between 96-98, he fought 30 bouts and won two world titles. He has also won the K-1, S-1, and western boxing competitions.
10. Saenchai Sor Kingstar
Saenchai has won the prestigious Lumpinee championship title in four different weight divisions, mostly facing bigger opponents. At the age of 15 he won his first Lumpinee title as a super flyweight (115 lbs.) and went on to win bantamweight (118 lbs.), super featherweight (130 lbs.) and lightweight (135 lbs.).
He is incredibly fast, agile, and equally good at defending as well as attacking. Even at the age of 34, Saenchai isn’t slowing down yet. Saenchai is a genuine warrior upholding the traditions of Muay Thai.
His flamboyant fighting technique and cartwheel kicks leave most of the promoters drooling for more. That is why, Saenchai is one of the most in-demand Muay Thai stars. His record currently stands at 345-299-41.