Muay Thai is a sport that has evolved over time, and behind that evolution is a great history that has brought forth numerous exceptional fighters to the spotlight. In order to be able to fully appreciate and understand the sport, it’s good to look back at the so-called legends who have paved the way for Muay Thai to be known and developed by younger generations. This list presents 10 of the best Muay Thai fighters to have ever fought in the ring, from the past to the present. Whether you’re a Muay Thai pro or just a beginner starting to develop an interest in the sport, these are the names that you should know and learn techniques from.
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Also known as the ‘Muhammed Ali’ of Muay Thai, Samart is arguably the best Muay Thai fighter of all time. Not only is he one of the best in Thai boxing, he was also a WBC boxing champion. His combined skills in western boxing and Muay Thai were pivotal to the evolution of Muay Thai. His boxing background enabled him to make good use of his hands in his Muay Thai fights. He has fought in 150 fights, winning 129 of them with 30 of them being by knockout.
While majority of the people you’ll find on this list are Thai, occasionally there have been some foreigners who have become well known fighters of the sport. For instance, Dekkers, who is a Dutchman, has eight world titles. Known as ‘The Diamond’, he has a confrontational and entertaining fighting style that paved the way for him to be one of the fan favorites. Not just a crowd favorite, Dekkers has also been mentioned by the best Thai fighters to be the best foreigner to fight in Thailand, cementing this outsider’s legacy in the country of the sport he fought in.
Known as one of the most agile fighters in Muay Thai, Saenchai has made his name well known among fans of the sport. Much like Madonna, Prince, and Sting who are all very well-known in their chosen industry with just one name, Saenchai has contributed greatly in the sport of Muay Thai. With his speed and timing, he can win over bigger and stronger fighters despite their visible advantage over him. He has been likened to a magician because of his agility in the ring. He is one of the more well-known Muay Thai fighters throughout the world.
While not a Lumpinee title holder himself, Buakaw has done a lot to promote Muay Thai to the international community. He is a multiple welterweight champion, and competing on the K1 platform helped him shed more light into the world of Muay Thai. His aggressive fighting style gives him the star power needed to be noticed by Muay Thai enthusiasts, and his contributions to bringing Muay Thai to the forefront of international sports will be well remembered long after he retires from the sport.
Considered as the best Muay Thai fighter in the 70s, Lorlek made the femur style of fighting popular. This technique worked particularly well against aggressive opponents, knocking them off balance and susceptible to attack. As one of the legends of the sport, he continues to play a huge influence in its circles by being a coach after retirement.
Pud Pad Noy Worawoot
His Muay Thai career started when he was just 14 years old, and has continued to establish his name in the sport since then. He has won multiple Lumpinee titles, also having been acknowledged by the King of Thailand as ‘best fighter’. He is nicknamed ‘the Golden Leg’ due to his characteristic left leg technique. He has a record of 135-15, before retiring and becoming a trainer based in Paris for 23 years after that.
Also known as ‘The Emperor’, he was the star of the Por Pramuk gym before Buakaw made it well-known. A Lumpinee title holder, he had an undefeated run that only made him one of the most formidable Muay Thai fighters. He is also a multiple title holder, winning 285 times and only losing 15 times. He is known to be one of the most well rounded Muay Thai fighters, even winning against Saenchai.
Apidej Sit Hirun
He is famous for having delivered a kick that broke the arms of the fighter he was fighting against, which then led to the retirement of that fighter. His attacks are hard hitting, even stronger than Buakaw’s, making him famous as one of the best fighters of Muay Thai. While Muay Thai has changed a lot since his retirement, Apidej was one of the pioneers of the sport. He was also recognized by the King of Thailand as fighter of the century.
Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn
Known for his powerful knee strikes, Dieselnoi took full advantage of his towering height over most of his opponents to deliver effective knee strikes. In fact, many fighters did not want to challenge Dieselnoi just because of the merits of his knee strikes. He is one of the best, even beating Samart Payakaroon in a fight.
Karuhat Sor Supawan
If Dieselnoi was one of the tallest Muay Thai fighters, Karuhat was one of the shortest. Despite this, he has utilized technique and skills to effectively win in his fights. His use of body kicks and elbows helped him to win against his opponents. Upon retiring, Karuhat had a record of 163-23, and 20 were won by knockout. Not too bad for a short fighter, huh?
Kaensak Sor Ploenchit
Active during the golden era of Muay Thai, Kaensak was a skilled fighter that used intelligence in technique to win his fights. He has Lumpinee and Ratchadamnern titles, winning against some of the greatest fighters in the sport. Plus, considering the fact that he was considered as one of the greatest during the golden era, he’s definitely someone exceptional in the sport.