Thailand may be known as “The Land Of Smiles,” but it’s also the land of names, and that is best represented in the country’s martial art of Muay Thai.
Although Muay Thai athletes are given formal names at birth and then family nicknames shortly after, they compete under fight names and aliases given to them mostly by gym owners or spectator consensus.
With that said, let’s look at the different forms of Thai names, fight names, and aliases, and how some of ONE Super Series’ most successful stars got their monikers.
Names In Thailand
When Thais are born, they are given first names that they use along with their surnames, but only for official government business and school. Outside of that, Thais use only their nicknames – usually one- or two-syllable words given to them by their parents.
Popular nicknames can be fruits (tangmo/watermelon), animals (nok/bird), cars (benz/Mercedes Benz), or sports (golf/golf). However, nicknames usually change with each generation and have a lot to do with popular trends or the interests of parents.
Thais also use p (older) and nong (younger) in front of names when they address someone, even if they’re calling them by their nickname. When talking to Nok, for instance, someone would say Nong’ Nok if the person was older. If the person was younger, the speaker would say P’ Nok.
Not many Muay Thai athletes use their nicknames as fight names, but ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is one who does.
Aside from nicknames, Muay Thai competitors also get fight names and aliases, which we’ll look at in the next two sections.
What’s In A Fight Name?
Muay Thai athletes’ fight names are constructed with words that represent the fighter’s appearance, skill, attributes, or a combination of all three.
Take lek, for example, which means small in Thai. Many fighters who are small in stature have the word lek in their fight names, such as #1-ranked flyweight contender “The Kicking Machine” Superlek Kiatmoo9. When he first started Muay Thai, he was small but strong, so the owner of Kiatmoo9 named him Superlek.
The Thai words for colors are used in many fight names as well. Words like dam, kao, daeng, or fah – which mean black, white, red, and blue respectively – are popular adjective choices for athletes, especially when paired with a noun that represents the fighter’s attributes, such as petch or kulab.
Former ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion and current #5-ranked flyweight Petchdam “The Baby Shark” Petchyindee Academy and #3-ranked bantamweight “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai both have dam in their names because of their darker skin tones. But the beginning of their names differ. Petch means diamond in Thai. Kulab, on the other hand, means rose.
Thais also borrow words from other languages and use them in their fight names. Stamp and capitan are two prime examples. Stamp is borrowed from English, while capitan (captain) comes from Spanish.
Aside from having fight names like Superlek, Petchdam, and Kulabdam, Muay Thai athletes also have longer aliases that they are known for and usually come from their in-ring styles.
Superlek, for example, is “The Kicking Machine” because he loves to kick. Kulabdam is “Left Meteorite” because of his ferocious left hand. And Muangthai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym is “Elbow Zombie” because of his unflinching walk-forward elbow attacks.
With some of the more popular fight names and aliases covered, let’s look at how the athletes put these names together, and what some of the ONE Super Series Muay Thai fighters’ names actually mean.
Popular Name Combinations And Phrases
As mentioned above, Muay Thai athletes’ names are made up with two or three words, mostly adjectives and nouns. Before we get into some of the more popular combinations found in ONE Championship, here are two short notes about the Thai language.
For the most part, adjectives come before nouns in English (black diamond), but in Thai, adjectives go after nouns (diamond black). Moreover, spaces are only used in Thai language to signify the end of a sentence, not to separate words like in English.
This is why Petchdam’s name reads as diamond black and is written as one word. The same is true for his teammate and ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy. His name reads as diamond emerald and is also written as one word.
Some names, however, aren’t combinations of adjectives and nouns, but rather short phrases to describe the Muay Thai athlete.
Number five-ranked “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex is one example. Yodsanklai means a distant peak. He used to train alongside a fighter named Sanklai, who was the star of his gym. But “The Boxing Computer” had gotten so good that the gym owner gave him the name Sanklai with yod (elite) in front of it, therefore becoming the distant peak — or one who can’t be touched.
On the other hand, two-sport World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao’s first name, sam-a, simply means three aces, given to him by an uncle who liked to play cards.
With all this said, there are also the one-off names that fighters are given, like rodtang and rodlek, which mean army tank and steel locomotive respectively. Athletes who have names like these are often short and stocky and love to punch and low kick.
It makes sense, then, why ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon and #2-ranked bantamweight “The Steel Locomotive” Rodlek P.K. Saenchai Muaythaigym carry these names with them into the Circle.