Exposure, recognition, notability
What is your first thought when it comes to Muay Thai? For some it is still kickboxing, and indeed, in the western world Muay Thai is one of its disciplines. For others Muay Thai is purely associated with the elbow strikes.
Those familiar with this sport closer, take Muay Thai as the art, as well as the made-in centuries national sport of the Kingdom of Thailand based on respect and discipline. Nevertheless, like anything else, it is also, and arguably mostly, about the names of those representing.
For the last ten years, Buakaw Banchamek, formerly Por. Pramuk, is the face of Muay Thai outside Thailand. He is an image of the sport.
But please note, I am not talking about “the best fighter”. The subject of this post is notability.
The name from the western world is the one and only Ramon Dekkers. For those in sport, he is well-known as a true champion and legend. However the new generation of Muay Thai fans and practitioners appears much more familiar with Australian great John Wayne Parr, who himself credits “Diamond” as the man to inspire him. “Muay Thai Elbow” certainly belongs to another Australian, known worldwide, as “Carnage” Nathan Corbett.
Thai stars Saenchai and Yodsanklai are perhaps equivalent to Dutch Rob Kaman and Surinamese-Dutch Rayen Simson. However today, even for those who yell out their ‘Muay Thai fighter’ status, the names of the latter probably don’t ring the bell at all.
The names of first two Thai fighters fighting in Europe, that I’ve heard in late 90s, are Jomhod Kiatadisak and Sakmongkol Sithchuchok.
Today in Europe we have French Fabio Pinca and Belarusian Andrei Kulebin. Pinca made headlines by winning the original Thai Fight tournament. Kulebin has been simply fighting, and has gone up against practically every prominent Thai of the current era, except of Yodsanklai.
The list of legends cemented their names as the best of all time includes Orono Por Muang Ubon, Karuhat Sor Supawan. Orono is known for Westerners thanks to battles with JWP. Supawan I personally know for his fight against Alexei Pekarchik in Russia.
Nevertheless, some of the names above are already in history. Others have competed for almost twenty years or maybe even more.
So who is the next Muay Thai super star? Who can bring enough to generate a vast interest from media, start making international headlines and appear on major TV networks, which is one of the key elements to help popularizing Muay Thai globally?