THE STAR OF PHANG KHON
Neth Saknarong by his real name Viraneth Nakain was born on November 6, 1955 in the village of Ban Na Muang near Phang Khon in the region of Sakon Nakhon (northeast of Thailand).
The Nakain family had five children, four girls and one boy, Viraneth. Viraneth had three older sisters and one younger sister.
At the age of 14, he started boxing with an Ajahn (Master) from Muay Thai in his native village, Ajahn Huay who was coaching young boxers in a very small camp near his home, there was only one striking bag in the camp.
After only one month of training, his master took him to the village party where there were children fighting. He picked a fighter who was about the same weight as him and said, “You’re going to fight him”. This boxer had already done 20 fights. The young Neth did a good match and won his first fight at points. That night, he won 100 baht and won the trophy of best fighter of the evening, a cup that was offered to him after his victorious match.
Viraneth fought about five times for Ajahn Huay’s camp, fighting under the name of Danchai Sor Wayupak.
Then he went to train in the camp of the legendary Prabphairi Terdkiatpitak and he took the name «Neth Therdkiatpitak».
Neth fought often in the Sakon Nakhon region and then in all the neighbouring regions. He fought 30 fights in the Northeast region and he was never beaten, a great champion was born!
At 17 years, he did his first fight in Bangkok at the stadium of the Ratchadamnoen in the category of 130 lbs, he defeated Kosa Kangwanprai by KO in the first round!
In Bangkok, Neth was taken in charge by the famous coach and manager Mr. Pong Thavornwiwatbutr nicknamed «Go Hong».
Go Hong was the owner of the famous Saknarong Gym camp. Neth adopted the fighter name of «Neth Saknarong» and he fought all the rest of his career for the Saknarong Gym.
This prestigious camp also included the legendary Narongnoi Kiatbandit. Narongnoi and Neth prepared together for their many fights at the stadiums of Lumpinee and Radja.
Narongnoi nicknamed «The Tiger Smiles Hard» won the Radja belt in 130 lbs against the star Rernsak Porntawee and the Radja belt in 135 lbs against the fantastic Vicharnoi Porntawee. Narongnoi and Vicharnoi have faced off six times with two victories for Narongnoi and four victories for Vicharnoi. Narongnoi also beat the live legends of the rings, Jocky Sitkanpai and the Japanese Toshio Fujiwara.
Neth and Narongnoi fought in the 130 lbs and 135 lbs category, the two Saknarong Gym champions often faced the same champions like Rernsak Porntawee, Vicharnoi Porntawee, Pud Pad Noi Woorawut, Kunponnoi Kietsuriya.
Later, Go Hong, the manager of Saknarong Gym, became the trainer who formed the greatest Thai boxer in Boxing history, Khaosai Galaxy (WBA Super Flyweight World Champion, 50 fights, 49 wins , 43 KO), undefeated for ten years.
At the age of 18 years, in 1973, in the stadium of Radja, Neth defeated Jomtap Sakprasong on points.
This boxer “Fimeuu” (Technique) became a terror of the rings, Neth fought as a left-hander (Right guard) with a very hard left leg and left fist, his left hook was also formidable.
Neth then beat the greatest fighters of the moment such as Pud Pad Noi Woorawut, Vicharnoi Porntawee, Pud Laolek, Porsai Sitibunlert.
He faced Pud Pad Noi “The Golden Leg” Woorawut, the first time in 1975 in Lumpinee stadium and he lost on points. The revenge was done in the stadium of Radja in 1976 and Neth defeated the superstar Pud Pad Noi!
Neth met Vicharnoi “The Immortal” Porntawee three times. In Radja stadium, the first time, he lost on points, then, the second time, Neth beat The Immortal on points. For their third confrontation, Vicharnoi won the victory.
Neth also faced twice the superstar of the time Pud «Top Fighter from Trang» Laolek. Their first fight took place at the Radja stadium. Pud Laolek was given largely favorite for this match. But Neth managed to beat this great champion. The rematch took place at the Lumpinee stadium and Neth lost by points.
Neth also made three anthology matches against the giant Porsai Sitibunlert “Electric Pole knee striker”. Neth beat Porsai in the stadium of Lumpinee for their first meeting. The two champions then made a draw and the third confrontation was won by Porsai.
Porsai was Neth’s toughest opponent because he was very tall and long, Porsai had the same type of morphology as the great Dieselnoi Ha Phalang. After his fight in Lumpinee against Porsai, Neth ended up in the hospital, Porsai’s terrible knee blows damaged Neth’s chest…
Neth defeated the immense champions Kunponnoi Kietsuriya on points. Kunponnoi was Lumpinee champion in 130 lbs, a belt he had won against star Pud Pad Noi Woorawut, Kunponnoi beat twice Pud Pad Noi and twice Narongnoi Kiatbandit.
Neth also beat the great champions Wannarong Peeramit (Radja champion in 126 lbs), Seeprae Duangpratee (Lumpinee champion in 135 lbs, Radja champion in 135 lbs) and Weerachart Sorndaeng (Lumpinee champion in 135 lbs).
He made memorable matches against the terrors of the boxing rings Chalermpol Sor Taeit (Radja champion in 135 lbs), Santi Rerkchai nicknamed “The iron buffalo”, Rernsak Porntawee called “The Rocky Man” (Lumpinee champion in 112 lbs and 130 lbs, Radja champion in 112 lbs) and Sathanfah Sor Prateep (Radja champion in 140 lbs, in 147 lbs and in 160 lbs, Lumpinee champion in 160 lbs).
Neth and Chalermpol faced off three times. Their first match ended with a contested points win at Chalermpol. The rematch ended with a draw. The third match was won by Chalermpol on points.
Against puncher Santi Rerkchai, Neth lost in points, against Rernsak Porntawee, Neth counted the iron buffalo in the fourth round before narrowly losing in points.
Neth lost hard by KO against the Sathanfah Sor Prateep ring legend. But it was one of his last fights in 1978, Neth no longer had the physical condition of his great years…
At the time, Neth also beat a great Japanese champion who was Kick Boxing World Champion, he came to fight in Thailand, at the Radja stadium, and Neth beat him by KO in the third round. Then he was challenged by the Kung Fu World Champion of the moment, a Chinese, who came to fight at the Radja stadium. Neth knocked him out in the first round!
On March 12, 1977, Neth was part of the Thai team that challenged the American champions of Full Contact WKA (Full contact with low kick) at home in Los Angeles, It was the first time in the history of Muay Thai that a delegation of Thai champions would fight abroad.
During this meeting, the two Thai boxers from the Saknarong Gym, Neth Saknarong and Narongnoi Kiatbandit were informed at the last moment that they could not fight with their favorite weapons, elbows, knee shots and projections. In addition, the American fighters wore shin covers under their Full Contact pants while the Thai fighters fought in shorts and without protections for the shins.
Neth met the PKA World champion Earnest Hart, the Thai was knocked down three times in the first round following violent series with the fists of the American champion, in the fourth round, the two boxers were counted and in the fifth round, Neth knocked out the American!
The main event was a clash between Kick Boxing superstar Benny Urquidez (WKA World Champion) and Narongnoi Kiatbandit. After a fierce match, the judges gave the American the winner while many people saw the Thai win this match. A riot broke out after this decision and finally the judges changed the decision to declare a match no-contest (No winner)…
Neth Saknarong made more than 200 fights in his career, he was nicknamed by Muay Thai fans “Daodan Phang Khon” (The star of Phang Khon).
This immense champion was one of the stars of the 70s, a time when Muay Thai matches in Thailand were often very, very hard.
Neth Saknarong is one of the rare boxers to have beaten boxing legends Pud Pad Noi Worawut (Lumpinee champion, Voted Best Boxer of the Year in 1975, recognized as one of the ten best fighters of all time, Hall Of Fame legends trophy in 2014), Pud Laolek (Lumpinee champion, Elected Best Boxer of the Year in 1974, Hall Of Fame legends trophy in 2014), Vicharnoi Porntawee (Lumpinee champion, Elected Best Boxer of the year in 1977, Hall Of Fame legends trophy in 2014), Porsai Sitibunlert (Radja champion, Elected Best Boxer of the Year in 1976), he defeated these ring legends in 1976.
Master Neth has never conquered a belt but like the star of the 90s Somrak Khamsing (N°1 of the Lumpinee and Radja stadiums for several years) he was N°1 of the two biggest stadiums of Bangkok for a long time.
His biggest purse in Thailand was 150,000 baht for his match against Pud Laolek. But for his fight in Los Angeles, he won the sum of one million baht!
Thanks to his purses, after his boxing career, he was able to buy a truck to trade in his region and then in Bangkok.
In 1988, Neth came to France to fight in a show organized by the famous singer Jean-Luc Lahaye who had organized a event at the Coubertin stadium for an association of orphan children. Neth met the French champion Mustapha Benatia (European Champion) whom he beat by KO!
After this match against Benatia, Master Neth moved to France and married a French woman with whom he had a daughter (Neth had already had two children in Thailand from a first marriage, two boys).
Neth founded his own gym in 1995, the Neth Gym (Gym Léo Lagrange, Voie de la Découverte, 27100 Val de Reuil) which is located in the Normandy region.
Neth became a renowned trainer in France, he formed several champions such as the superb technician Karim Saada (European Champion, 6 times French Champion, 2 times Amateur World Champion), one of the best French fighters of the years 2000 which beat big names in the discipline like Fabio Pinca, Youcef Totof, Mustapha Ziani and the legendary Rajasak Sor Vorapin (3 times champion of Radja).
Master Neth also formed light heavyweight Stephane Gomis who was twice French champion and silver medalist at the WMF World Amateur Championships in 2007. He also trained the great champion Fabrice Payen (World champion, Europe champion, N° 3 in the stadium of Radja) for his fights in the stadium of Ratchadamnoen in the 90s.
BY SERGE TREFEU