A Day in the Life of a Muay Thai Fighter: The Oldest Ever Known to Fight
By Johnathan “JZ” Zalazar
The oldest ever known to fight in Thailand’s professional fighting circuit was born on November 30th, 1899. That would be the year of the Chiang Kai Shek coup d’état. At that time, the country had been ruled by a military dictatorship for nearly twenty years.
In fact, the first recorded fights took place during the reign of Emperor Taisho (1868–1912). There were no rules or regulations governing what kind of fighters could compete. Fighters competed with whatever weapons they had at their disposal. They fought bare-handed, with bamboo sticks, with knives and swords, even using poison darts!
During those days there was little thought given to age limits for fighting. Fighters often fought until they died from injuries sustained in such bouts. In fact, many of these fights were not recognized as official fights by the authorities. Some of them were simply referred to as “fights.”
It wasn’t until World War II that the government began regulating amateur fighting. The National Sports Promotion Board (NSPB) was formed in 1942 to regulate all aspects of sports in Thailand. The NSPB was responsible for setting rules and regulations for boxing matches, wrestling matches, martial arts contests and other forms of competitive sport.
The NSPB was the first national board to oversee professional fights. It set strict rules and regulations for those wishing to fight as a profession. Many of these rules are still in place today, such as setting the minimum age at 15 and maximum age at 35 for fighters. Also, fighters must not only have a high school diploma, but a minimum of 1 year of university education.
All fighters must be Thais and they must register with their local boxing clubs. All registered boxers are given an identification number that they must have imprinted on all of their boxing gear and clothing. They are also required to register their chosen ring name. All professional matches are overseen by a government-appointed referee and judges.
The oldest living muay Thai fighter today is Kaensak Sor Ploenjit. He was born in 1943, the year the first professional muay Thai fights were held under the new government regulations. Kaensak started competing at the age of 15 and had won his first championship belt by the time he was 20 years old.
He has held a record of nearly 150 wins and only 3 losses during his illustrious career, which is still ongoing. To put that into perspective, multi-time world champion Manny Pacquiao has a record of 54 wins and 2 losses.
Kaensak is believed to be in better physical condition than most people less than half his age. He is quick and agile, despite being well over 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds. He currently holds the championship belt in three different weight classes, the smaller of which is 165 lbs. The larger of the two is at 195 lbs.
He continues to fight today because he loves the sport and feels he’s still at his peak. He trains at the same boxing camp where he has trained since the age of 15, the Sor Ploenjit Boxing Camp in Nong Kai, located in the Isaan region of Thailand.
He attributes his impressive physical condition and lasting success to his dedication to training and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. He is an inspiration to everyone he meets, including young boxers and people in general.
As a child, I remember reading an interview with Kaensak in a magazine. He was already an adult at the time and had been fighting professionally for several years.
At one point he was asked what his secret to success was. His answer was as follows:
Of all the things he could have said, it’s funny how his answer is still the same today as it was back then. His story reminds me of the quote by Bruce Lee:
“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
These are the words that guide me in everything I do.
It is my hope that they will someday help lead me to achieve my dreams as well.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Muay Thai: Women, fighting, femininity by SG Davies, A Deckert – … Review for the Sociology of Sport, 2020 – journals.sagepub.com
Muay Thai: Inventing tradition for a national symbol by P Vail – Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 2014 – muse.jhu.edu
‘Lives of Hunting Dogs’ Muai Thai and the Politics of Thai Masculinities by P Kitiarsa – South East Asia Research, 2005 – journals.sagepub.com
Muay Thai: advanced Thai kickboxing techniques by C Delp – 2004 – books.google.com
Muay Thai Basics: Introductory Thai Boxing Techniques by C Delp – 2012 – books.google.com
Reliability of TEOSQ in brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay-thai fighters: a pilot study by I Albuquerque, DV Diniz, E de França… – … Journal of Physical …, 2015 – kheljournal.com