Few who meet Muangthai P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym would know he possesses one of the most feared striking arsenals in Thailand.
He is the quietest amongst the group of athletes at his prestigious training center, but once he is in the ring, he is capable of unleashing some of the most spectacular techniques in the world.
The 24-year-old has become known as the “Elbow Zombie” because of his many elbow knockouts in his homeland, and now, he aims to show the world his remarkable talent in ONE Super Series.
Before he takes to the cage, learn a little bit more about this explosive striker.
A Farmer’s Son
Born into a family of rice farmers, Muangthai had the quintessential upbringing with his older brother and parents in the Northeast region of Thailand, commonly referred to as Isaan.
He lived in a simple, single-story wooden stilt house, and used the area underneath the home as a place of refuge from the oppressive afternoon sun.
Muangthai’s parents worked menial labor jobs – picking up work wherever they could to earn a meager income to supplement their annual yield of rice.
He and his brother helped contribute in any way they could – whether that meant collecting rainwater to drink or fishing for meals. Putting food on the table was always a group effort.
It may seem like a tough life, but Muangthai says he was a happy child.
“We would go play soccer after helping out my parents,” he adds. “We had lots of free time to explore and get lost in nature.”
A Life Of Muay Thai
Issan produces a great number of competitors and champions in Muay Thai, and Muangthai began his journey to join their ranks after watching his brother enter the ring before him.
They trained in a modest gym ran by his father, who despite having never competed in the sport, had a deep love for Muay Thai. Muangthai started to hit pads when he was just 7 years old and competed for the first time soon thereafter.
Although he lost his first bout, he was hooked.
“I made 150 Baht in my first fight, and knew right away I wanted to do it again,” he says.
Making the rounds on the local scene, his father soon realized he could only take his son so far. He made the difficult decision to send his youngest child to the nation’s capital in hopes of finding better opportunities and earning bigger paydays.
At just 15 years old, Muangthai left home for the very first time with a one-way bus ticket to Bangkok. He first arrived at Sor. Boonjiam before later relocating to his current home, P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym.
A Natural Disaster
Muangthai’s success in the ring was vital to help his family through hard times.
In Isaan, the majority of farmers without access to modern farming equipment or irrigation channels rely on monsoons to help their crops thrive. That leaves them at the mercy of mother nature, and one year, after a devastating flood, the family lost everything.
They had already borrowed money to plant the crops, and planned to pay off their debts with the profits from the harvest.
With no rice to sell, they were forced to go deeper into debt to cover their basic living expenses.
Muangthai vowed to bring his family out of debt through his Muay Thai career. After years of sacrifice and dedication, he worked his way up the ranks.
Building a record of 195-40-4 with an entertaining and aggressive style that earned him his nickname, the Thai’s purses increased to almost 200,000 Baht in Bangkok, which gave him the means to provide his family with a better life.
“My life has improved so much since coming to P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym,” he explains. “I’ve gotten my family out of debt, and we are now able to save money and even build our own assets.”
A Decorated Career
Since leaving his home his Buriram nearly 10 years ago, Muangthai has become a three-division champion in Muay Thai.
He first won the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium World Title at 108 pounds (49 kilograms), then captured the Channel 7 Stadium Title at 130 pounds (59 kilograms), and finally claimed a Thailand Championship at 135 pounds (61.25 kilograms).
Having conquered the elite stadiums of Bangkok, Muangthai has set his sights on a brand new challenge on the biggest stage of his career – kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts in ONE Super Series.
“I want to make a name for myself in ONE Championship. My dream is to become a multi-discipline champion with the promotion,” he states.
Before that, the Thai hero must pass his first test on 9 November against a two-time Muay Thai world champion in Yusuf.
The Cypriot showed in his ONE debut that he is a smooth operator with incredible technical ability.
However, if Muangthai can get into range and land his best strikes, he may show the world why he earned his “Elbow Zombie” nickname.