Foreigners also feature in Muaythai history. In 1778, during the reign of King Rama 1, two French brothers arrived in the Kingdom of Siam. They were boxers who had made a reputation for themselves by defeating local boxers across Indo-China. They came to challenge the Thais, who accepted. The purse was high at 50 chang, about 4000 Baht.
The Thai Crown Prince undertook to find a defender of Thai honour and the sport. He chose a member of the palace Royal Guard – Muen Plan.
The contest was staged in the grounds of the Grand Palace, Muen Plan wore full battle regalia and Kruang Rang to protect him. When the fight began, the foreigner, larger than the Thai went for the neck and collar-bone. Muen Plan defeated with that wall of arms, elbows, knees and legs that still block attacks today.
The other foreigner, frustrated at his brother’s inability to break through the defence, interfered in the fight. The breach in etiquette, an insult to the sport, brought a palace guard, Muaythai trained, to his feet and after a brief skirmish, the foreigners were carried to their boat.
There are modern legendary figures of Muaythai as well as those from the past. Like Pol Prapradang – the ‘Wild Boar’. His boxing record speaks for itself; 350 bouts, both international and Muaythai styles. He was never knocked down nor given the count during his extraordinary fighting career.
This record is even more spectacular since it was built by often fighting in weight classes much heavier than his own.
He was a bantamweight but to find a fight, he often fought in the welterweight division.
The ‘Wild Boar’ was also a fabled figure for his ceremonial dance before each fight. Whoever has seen it, has that his ‘Hanuman Tob Yong’ – which means ‘The Monkey God slapping the mosquito’ – boxing dance had no equal. To add to this record, Pol Praparhdang no equal. To add to this record Pol Prapradang was also the first ever Thai Boxer to be internationally ranked in the bantamweight division of international boxing.
Other modern figures become legends because of a particular skill in the Muaythai art. Like Apidej Sit-Hirun, known as ‘The Champion of Seven Titles’, the most fearful kicker that Muaythai may ever have seen, he one broke his opponents arm with his kick strike.
His kick arsenal made him famous as he set the record by holding, at one time, seven welterweight titles of both Muaythai and International boxing, a historic record that still stands.
Another celebrated modern fighter was ‘The Sky Piercing Knee Kicker’, the fighter that in the end, no one dared fight – Dieselnoi Chor Thansukarn. He was the knee expert, producing knockout after knockout with his stunning knee attacks.
He became what is called a ‘spinster’ fighter – one that nobody dared challenge and gave up one of his championships simply because no one could be found who was willing to fight him for it.
Muaythai continues to be a sport of legends, of legendary fighters, legendary acts. The greatest legend, the one that the world finds hard to believe, is the simple truth of the sport – it can’t be beaten.