What's In A Name?
In Thailand when you are born, like most of the world given a name and that is how you are known for the rest of your life. The exception to this rule is if you are a Thai boxer. It is customary for Thai fighters to change their last name to that of their Gym or Trainer, or in some cases a combination of both.
Fighters in Thai land are just like any other pro athlete in any other sport on the planet. They have worth, and with that value can be traded to other trainers and gyms. Therefore a fighters name can change several times within a career.
We can take one of the greatest Thai boxers of all time, Saenchai. Those in the know of Thai boxing or combat sport will have heard the name. When Saenchai is mentioned everyone has a idea about who we are talking about even though no last name is mentioned.
For context Saenchai has competed under the following names. Each time he switched a Gym, His last name switch to represent where he was fighting out of. Saenchai Sor Kamsing, Sangpetch Patanakan Gym, Saenchai Sor Kingstar, Saenchai Sor Saenchai
So while competing over the years the last name of Saenchai has been directly related to the Gym he was fighting for. When he opened his own gym, he became Saenchai Sor Saenchai , or as we know him now, simply Saenchai.
One of Saenchai’s star students is currently one of the best Thai boxers in the world. Manachai. Manachai. Manachai is a bit different in the case that his whole name has been changed. Jirpart Waiprakorn is what he was named at birth, but that has never been the name he has fought under. Instead he is billed as Manachai YOKKAOSaenchaigym.
Why would it be so important for a Thai Fighter to change their name? For one it is part of the respect a fighter has or their gym. In Thai Boxing, many fighters will live at the gym they fight for. The trainers they have will ensure the fight purses are set correctly and gambling lines are made. Unlike in the United States where gambling on your own team can get you expelled from your sport, in Thailand it is almost expected that your gym or members of your team gamble on your performance.
Much like the western world, first names can be common. Instead of relaying on a last name to remember a fighter by, fans relay on the gym or team the fighter is on to remember them.
Check out this video from Saenchai!
Using Manachai YOKKAOSaenchaigym as a example, His teammate Lumpinee Stadium champion Singdam shares his last name. Yokkao Saenchaigym, yet it is stylized a differently on fight cards. Even though the appearance is different, the meaning is the same. This is my name, This is who I fight for.
Like teams in other sports there are fans of specific gyms. People will follow the gyms fighters and watch the trades of one fighter for another. Sometimes fighters are just paid for outright. The movement and trading of fighters will in turn affect the gambling and betting lines.
The idea that a specific gym might specialize in a style or move set that is particularly good, when a fighter is traded the conversation will be had if that style will fit that fighters performance. It is like fantasy football in that you draft players based on their ability to perform well in a specific area.
So if you are just getting into Muay Thai as a spectator or competitor there is a ton of information out there to watch and learn. Using instructional Series is a great way to help elevate your knowledge on the sport. Expand idea’s for practice and adding things to a game plan.
If you plan on actually competing, finding a Muay Thai Gym is your best bet. Tiger, Thai Top Team, Phuket Top team all offer travel camps or if you go all in the ability to try out for a spot on the team. Who knows maybe you will end up changing your last name before to long.
If you are just into the idea of watching the exciting style of Muay Thai fights, using team names like the aforementioned or names like Petchmanneerat, Petchrungreung or MuayThaiGym as search names.
Simply the best way is to find established great fighters such as Liam Harrison, Manachai, Saenchai, or Jean Charles Skarbowsky and watch those matches. Those names will almost guarantee a exciting fight.
Soo what is in a name? Glory, Respect, and Notoriety to name a few.
Check out the latest from Saenchai, and update your striking with one of the BEST of ALL-TIME!