In September 2008, South Korean K-Pop group Wonder Girls released their single “Nobody.” Unbeknownst to them, that hit song would affect the Muay Thai landscape in a country more than 3,500 kilometers away.
At the time, pre-adolescent and teenage girls throughout Thailand hummed, sang, and danced to the tune.
Some of those girls were students of Jaroon Chanthasri, a teacher at Bangkok’s Santa Cruz Convent School – and the father and coach of a budding Muay Thai fighter named Nat.
It just so happened that Jaroon was looking for a fitting ring name for his 9-year-old daughter, and the constant sounds of “Nobody” gave him an idea.
“He heard his students sing this song every single day,” says Wondergirl Fairtex, who will make her ONE Championship debut against Brooke Farrell at ONE: NO SURRENDER III this Friday, 21 August, in Bangkok, Thailand.
“He had an earworm and played it on YouTube at home and gradually liked it. So, my dad came up with ‘Wondergirl,’ so that when I eventually fought abroad, it would be easier to recognize than a Thai name.”
At first, the young girl who was still known only as Nat was hesitant to take on the name. In fact, she wasn’t even fond of the single, which won the Cyworld Digital Music Award two months in a row and MKMF’s Best Song Of The Year award in 2008.
“I didn’t like it at all,” she says. “I was like, ‘What, Dad? They’re not even my favorite band.’
“I mean, I really didn’t like that song.”
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Despite those objections from his daughter, the wise father stuck to his intuition – a conviction that proved to be beneficial. Before long, Wondergirl’s name stood out in a country where female athletes regularly go by Nong, Phet, or Ploy.
With some clever marketing to back her in-ring talent, Wondergirl began headlining events like Songchai Rattanasuban’s OneSongChai S1, where ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao also built a career.
She even went on to become a two-time Muay Thai champion of the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand and caught the attention of the Fairtex Training Center, where she began training and competing alongside the likes of ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex.
These days, Wondergirl has no doubt that her moniker – which she was hesitant to accept – has played a major role in becoming recognized around the world and by her compatriots.
“Mine is different,” the 21-year-old says. “It’s easy to remember. Thai people recognize me because it’s kind of weird. Like, ‘Who? Oh, that girl. Wondergirl! Wondergirl!’
“Now I like it.”