5 of the Best Muay Thai Fighters That Ever Lived

Known as the art of 8 limbs because it uses all the striking possibilities of the human body, Muay Thai is a popular sporting activity. The question “Who is the best Muay Fighter of all time?” is probably as old as the sport itself.

Over the years, many good fighters have stamped their authority in the Muay Thai arena. Some have even gone on to have successful kickboxing careers. We shall only focus on legendary Muay Thai fighters.

Based on attributes that make a fighter formidable – speed, technique, power, and accuracy – here are the five best Muay Thai fighters that have ever lived.

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1) Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn

Starting off this list is Dieselnoi, a Muay Thai fighter whose prowess rivals that of Michael Jordan in the NBA. He dominated the sport during the Golden Era of Muay Thai. He was so good in Muay Thai that no fighter wanted to challenge him.

Just standing at only 6’2″ (1.88m) and weighing at only 135lbs (60Kg), “The Little Diesel,” as he is known, was an icon in Thailand. With little meat wrapping around his elbows and knees, every blow that came crashing into an opponent’s body felt like being hit with a baseball bat.

Not only did Dieselnoi dwarf his opponents, but he was also a fearsome fighter, and he used his height to his advantage. He had the rare combination of size, intelligence, and skill that only the greatest of athletes in any sport possess.

He was the master of clinch wrestling. When he got the opportunity to place his arms around your neck, he would use his height to weigh you down and yank you around as he pleased. He would not let go until he had his fill.

Dieselnoi threw his knees ferociously. Just watching him hit pads during his practice session did send chills down my spine, knowing those blows are for another person. He brought rhythm and fluidity in his fights. Even his opponents went down gracefully.

Dieselnoi, with the help of his knees, won the Lightweight championship at the Lumpinee Stadium in 1981. Afterward, he fought another fearless fighter Samart Payakaroon. The bout was billed the fight of the century at that time. Although he had once lost to Samart before, Dieselnoi emerged victorious thanks to his trademark knees.

Dieselnoi was so fearsomely good almost no other Muay Thai fighter dared step on the ring with him for two years straight. Eventually, Dieselnoi had to forfeit his belt due to a lack of a serious challenger.

2) Saenchai

In any generation, an athlete must rise from the depths and shake up things a little bit. While we can debate over who the best overall Muay Thai fighter is, there’s no question Saenchai was one of the best technical fighters. If he had any weakness, we are yet to find out.

He introduced new attack angles that made the sport look like a video game almost operating at a different set of laws of physics that we are yet to decipher. He was a renowned combat savant that his highlight reel does come with a glossary of options to help you navigate his complete set of attacks.

3) Samart Payakaroon

Punching and defensive footwork are not typical in Muay Thai combats. Samart Payakaroon did demonstrate what can happen when these skills are brought to the arena. He would knock out his opponents with precise strikes on his way to victory. He was known for delivering ferocious blows and avoiding hits from opponents. 

Samart, won the WBC Junior Featherweight Championship in 1986 due to his unmatched skills and talent, which enabled him to transition over to western boxing seamlessly. Today, Samart cannot walk the streets of Bangkok without being swarmed by fans looking to take pictures and getting his autograph.

4) Ramon Dekkers

Dekkers may seem like a questionable pick as he never won any major title. But let’s dig deeper as to why Dekkers never won a major Muay Thai championship, which may be a controversy in itself.

A Dutch native, Dekker started raining in Judo when he was 12 years old before he moved to other disciplines. Kickboxing was gaining traction during this time with Muay Thai, also capturing a following. When he was 13 years of age, he got into Muay Thai full time and was training under Cor Hemmers.

Gambling is rife in Muay Thai fights, and most gamblers like to see a few rounds before they place their bets. So, when a young Ramon Dekkers finished his opponent before the spectators blinked twice, people didn’t take kindly to it. This likely upset some of the famous gamblers who could influence the outcome of a fight. Also, the fact that he was farang only made it worse.

Right from the opening bells, Dekkers would thrash his opponents at a pace that even the Muay Thai scoring systems found challenging to keep up. It made it impossible for Dekkers to win by points. 

Regardless of how Thais felt about Dekkers, he became the first foreigner to be recognized as the “Fighter of the year” by the Thai press in 1992. Dekkers received a Royal Award in 2012 from the King of Thailand himself for his services to sport.

5) Somrak Kamsing

Somrak is the pride of Thailand. He was awarded the Olympic gold medal in boxing, becoming the first-ever Thai to win a gold medal at the Olympics. Due to his fluidity, his fights are exciting to watch. He has a hybrid boxing/Muay Thai style fighting that is unique.

Despite Somrak ranking #1 at both Lumpinee and Ratchadamnoern stadiums, he did not get the opportunity to fight for the title. The promoters at both stadiums feared that he was too good and denied him the championship fights. He retired after this and practiced amateur boxing. In 2012 however, he came out of retirement and fought a fellow legend Jomhod for a record purse of 6 million baht.

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