« THE BURNING LEFT LEG »
Sam-A whose real name is Thanapat Juabrum was born on October 13, 1983 in the village of Chamni in the province of Buriram. Chamni is 20 km from the town of Buriram.
The Juabrum family has three children, two boys and a girl, the parents of young Thanapat were very poor farmers who also worked in a sawmill. The two boys, Thanapat and his big brother, have become professional boxers.
Thanapat discovered boxing with his uncle who took him to watch boxing matches at village parties. His uncle sometimes organized small boxing shows, one day, he was missing an opponent for a match between children nakmuay. Young Thanapat volunteered to fight. At the age of 9, he had no boxing experience, had no training, and had never been in a ring. However, Thanapat won his first points fight, he won the sum of 100 baht.
Thanapat enjoyed fighting but his technique and fitness were limited, for his second match he lost significantly to points. So, in front of their house, on a piece of land, he trained hard with his brother. The Juabrum family home was a very simple and modest wooden house on stilts. The two brothers had no means, they built a makeshift striking bag with an old bag of rice filled with sand on which they beat with bare hands.
Thanapat fought a dozen fights before joining a real boxing camp near his home. His first teacher was his uncle Khru Song Juabrum who gave him the name fighter of « Sam-A Luknongphet ». Sam-A (Pronounced Sam Ai) means “3 Aces”, the three Aces is one of the best hands you can have in a deck of cards. In a career as a professional boxer, luck is as important as talent.
Then Sam-A joined the Thor Rattanakiat camp from Khru Palamnong Sitnumchai in Buriram. A camp which included, in his heyday, Sattaban Thor Rattanakiat, a formidable fighter who beat the star Buakaw Por Pramuk and good boxers such as Thanasak Mueang Chaiyaphum, Yodkatayu Sakmontree, Khomphayak Angthong, Payaknum Sitkhuot. There were also in the camp Cherdpong Thor Rattanakiat, Kaenkuman Thor Rattanakiat and Rungrawee Thor Rattanakiat.
Sam-A fought a lot in the Isaan region (North East), he fought almost every weekend. This little ring prodigy won the Isaan champion’s belt in – 30 kg.
Around the age of 16, Sam A was taken under the thumb of the eminent Doctor Pong Wisetpaitoon, an influential promoter of the Radja stadium that owns the famous CPF (Charoen Pokphand Foods) camp in Bangkok. A camp that also bore the name of Kay Yang Ha Dao (Kay Yang Ha Dao «Grilled Chicken 5 stars» is one of the biggest sponsors in the boxing world). Mr. Pong Wisetpaitoon has been helping young boxers from poor families for 20 years. For those who achieve very good sports results, boxers are sponsored and some receive a house and a car. Dr Pong Wisetpaitoon also helps them to plan their post-career pugilistic reconversion.
When he finished his formidable boxing career, Sam A, received the right and the privilege to be able to set up and manage a store “Seven Eleven” (7-Eleven is a famous chain of convenience stores established mainly in Asia and North America) anywhere in Thailand.
In 2010, Sam-A incorporated the famous Petchyindee Gym Team, one of the largest and most renowned camps in Bangkok. The Petchyindee Gym is owned by the promoter Mr. Nuttadaj Vichirarattanawong (Radja Stadium Promoter) who is the son of Mr. Virat Vichirarattanawong (Lumpinee Promoter No. 1 in the 2000s). Nuttadaj Vichirarattanawong is the official promoter of champion Sam-A.
Sam-A’s left leg and punch electrocuted many of his opponents. This technical fighter with devastating power was one of the best fighters of 2010, all categories. Sam-A was nicknamed by Muay Thai fans «Say Fay Lamthung» (The Burning Left Leg). This extraordinary fighter has fought more than 400 fights with 370 victories including a hundred won by KO!
In the early 2000s, Sam-A fought big battles against renowned champions, beat Petch Thor Baengsean, Sarawut Lukbanyai, Tingtong Saengsawangpanrapla, Kangwanlek Petchyindee, Chatchainoi Sitbenjama and made 7 violent clashes against the terror of the rings Yodsaenklai Petchyindee (Fairtex). Yodsaenklai (Lumpinee Champion in 112 lbs, Lumpinee Champion in 147 lbs, Thailand Champion in 154 lbs, WBC World Champion, WPMF, WMC) was one of the toughest fighters Sam-A met because he won only once against him in his seven matchs.
Sam-A won ten belts. His first important belt he won at 21 years old, the Lumpinee belt in 115 lbs. A belt he conquered by beating Petch Thor Baengsean in 2004, on December 7, at the Lumpinee stadium. Petch Thor Baengsean (Amnat Ruenroeng) was the Lumpinee 112 lbs champion in 2000. It is a formidable Muay Mat (Strong in Fist) who became IBF world champion in Boxing in 2014 (25 fights in professional Boxing with 21 victories). Sam-A and Petch Thor Baengsean have faced each other four times with three wins for Sam-A and one win for Petch Thor Baengsean.
The years 2004 and 2005 were very difficult financially for the champion Sam-A. With boxing, he did not win big purses and had some problems with his training camp. He had to work on construction sites in Bangkok for a while to earn more money and feed his family. Sam-A was champion of the most prestigious stadium in the country but to get out of it financially he had to do a grueling job, carrying bricks and cement bags all day long under a scorching sun…
During this complicated period, Sam-A was no longer training properly. Three months after winning his Lumpinee title on March 29, 2005, he lost his Lumpinee belt in 115 lbs against Songkom Wor Sangprapai who beat him by TKO.
His situation improved in 2006 and the following years were better for the winner Sam-A. On May 16, 2006, in the stadium of Lumpinee, he won the belt of champion of Thailand in 115 lbs against Duengpetch Or Siripon.
The Buriram fighter started to receive good purses and to make a name for himself in the ranking of famous stadiums of Bangkok by beating by KO the great champions as Petchboonchu FA Group (Best boxer of the year 2013 trophy Siamkeela), Penaike Sitnumnoi (Best Boxer of the Year 2011 Sports Writers Association of Thailand Trophy) and Rungruanglek Lookprabat (Best Boxer of the Year 2009 Sports Writers Association of Thailand Trophy).
On October 31, 2008, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Sam-A faced the star Detnarong Sitjaboon. The two champions had already met three times with two wins for Detnarong and one win for Sam-A.
Detnarong from the Trang region was nicknamed “Loma Mahapai” (The dangerous dolphin), he was Lumpinee and Radja champion in 115 lbs in 2006. Then, Thailand champion in 118 lbs and Lumpinee champion in 122 lbs.
The match between Sam-A and Detnarong counted for the Lumpinee title in 122 lbs. Sam-A won the fight and won his second Lumpinee belt!
Sam-A victoriously defended his Lumpinee belt in 122 lbs against Fimeuu Lekkla Thanasunarakorn (Lumpinee champion in 118 lbs, Thailand champion in 105 lbs) in 2009 and twice against solid Thong Lukmakhawan (Radja champion in 122 lbs, Lumpinee champion in 122 lbs, Thailand champion in 122 lbs) in 2010 and 2011.
In 2009, Sam-A made memorable battles against the terrible Muay Bouk Pornsanae Sitmonchai whom he beat three times and the technical Pakorn Sakyotin with a victory in points, Sam-A twice beat Pakorn (Radja Champion in 115 lbs, Lumpinee champion in 135 lbs, Thailand champion in 135 lbs). Sam-A and Pornsanae (Radja Champion in 115 lbs, Thailand champion in 126 lbs, Omnoi champion in 130 lbs) faced each other five times with four wins for Sam-A and one victory for Pornsanae.
On September 4, 2009, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Sam-A beat the star of the moment Wuttidet Lookprabat (Thailand Champion in 122 lbs, Best boxer of the year 2007). The fight was for the Thailand belt in 122 lbs, Sam-A won his second Thailand championship belt.
Sam-A retained his title of Thailand champion in 122 lbs in 2010 against Rungruanglek Lookprabat (Lumpinee Champion in 115 lbs, Lumpinee champion in 122 lbs, Thailand champion in 115 lbs, Thailand champion in 122 lbs, Winner of the Isuzu tournament in 118 lbs, Best boxer of the year 2009). Rungruanglek was also a big star of the rings of the moment. Sam-A and Rungruanglek have met eight times, Sam-A has beaten Rungruanglek four times including once by KO and Rungruanglek has defeated Sam-A four times on points.
Sam-A (28 years old) also defended his title of champion of Thailand in 122 lbs against the old lion of the rings Pokeaw Fongjanchonburi (33 years old) in 2012 and the young wolf Superlek Kiatmuu 9 (18 years old) in 2013. Pokeaw (Lumpinee champion in 122 lbs, Radja champion in 122 lbs, Thailand champion in 122 lbs and 118 lbs) and Sam-A made three fights with a draw and two points wins for Sam-A. Sam-A twice beat the young prodigy Superlek (Lumpinee champion in 115 lbs and 118 lbs, Thailand champion in 105 lbs, 112 lbs and 126 lbs).
Sam-A made it to the finals in 2010 for Best Boxer of the Year, a trophy awarded by the prestigious The Sports Writers Association of Thailand. The three finalists were Sam-A, Pakorn Sakyotin and Kongsak Sitboonmee. It was the experienced Kongsak (20 years) who won the famous trophy with a record of 8 consecutive victories. Sam-A had made 11 fights for 8 wins and 3 defeats, he had notably beaten the champions Phethavee Sor Kittichai, Pakorn Sakyotin, Rungpet Wor Sangprapai, Rungruanglek Lookprabat, Thong Puideenaidee (Lukmakhawan).
Sam-A was voted “Best Boxer of the Year 2010” by the other renowned institution The Sports Authority of Thailand!
Sam-A then had a great year 2011, he was undefeated by beating big names like Manasak Pinsinchai, Pokaew Fonjangchonburi, Rungruanglek Lookprabat, Lekkla Thanasuranakorn. And this year, he was again elected “Best boxer of the year 2011” by the institution The Sports Authority of Thailand and “Best boxer of the year of the stadium Lumpinee”!
On October 21, 2014, in Hong Kong, Sam-A defeated Irish champion Andrew Doyle in the fourth round and won a WBC International belt in 130 lbs.
A month later, on November 25, 2014, Sam-A won the Thailand belt in 126 lbs against Bangpleenoi 96 Peenang whom he executed in the third round. Sam-A won his third Thailand championship belt!
Sam-A also fought three times for the Lumpinee belt in 126 lbs and failed for this third Lumpinee title. On May 4, 2012, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Sam-A challenged the talented Penaik Sitnumnoi who held the Lumpinee title in 126 lbs and the Thailand championship title in 126 lbs. Sam-A had beaten by KO Penaik four years before. In 2008, in the stadium of Lumpinee, he struck down Penaik with a magnificent poke. But for the rematch, Penaik kept his belts by beating Sam-A on points.
On December 3, 2013, for the Lumpinee belt in 126 lbs, Sam-A lost against the super technician Superbank Sakchaichote (Lumpinee champion in 126 lbs, Radja champion in 105 lbs and in 115 lbs).
On March 6, 2015, for the Lumpinee belt in 126 lbs, Sam-A lost in points against the wonder boy boxing ring Phanpayak Jitmuangnon (Lumpinee champion in 126 lbs and 118 lbs, Radja champion in 105 lbs and 108 lbs, Best Boxer of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015). For the rematch Phanpayak knocked out Sam-A in the first round. Phanpayak is one of the few champions to have beaten Sam-A by KO.
In 2014, Sam-A first went to fight abroad. In France, at the show “The Night Of The Titans”, he beat by KO the champion Hakim Hamech (WBC world champion) and at the show “Impact Fight Night”, he won by KO against the champion Ayoub El Kaidar.
In 2015, in Bangkok, Sam-A was the big winner of the Toyota tournament in 126 lbs, he beat Petsongkom Sitjaroentab in the final.
“Say Fay Lamthung” had an exceptional career and beat the best champions of his generation such as Thong Lukmakhawan (2 wins), Painek Sitnumnoi (1 victory by KO, 1 loss), Sangmanee Sor Tienpo, Pornsanae Sitmonchai (4 wins, 1 defeat), Petchboonchu FA Group (1 victory by KO, 1 victory in points), Wuttidet Lookprabat (1 victory, 2 losses), Petpanomrung Kiatmuu 9 (2 wins, 1 loss), Superlek Kiatmuu 9 (2 wins), Phet Utong Or Kwanmuang (1 victory by KO, 1 victory in points), Pakorn Sakyothin, Rungruanglek Lookprabat (1 victory by KO, 3 wins in points, 4 losses), Lekkla Thanasuranakorn (2 wins), Pokaew Fonjangchonburi (2 wins, 1 draw), Pethavee Sor Kittichai (1 win, 2 losses on points, 1 loss by KO), Detnarong Sitjaboon (2 wins, 2 losses), Bangpleenoi 96 Peenang (1 victory by KO, 1 loss), Chatchainoi Sitbenjama (KO), Kaew Fairtex ( 1 win, 3 losses), Ritidech Wor Wanthavee (KO), Petch Thor Baengsean (3 wins, 1 loss), Sarawut Lukbanyai, Yodsaenklai Fairtex (1 win, 6 losses), Tingtong Saengsawangpanrapla, Kangwanlek Petchyindee, Kaonar P.K. Saenchai Gym.
Sam-A quit his career in 2016, he became a coach at the famous Evolve MMA gym in Singapore. Sam-A has joined the many Thai champions who are now instructors at this reputable gym, such as Nong O Kaiyanghadao, Phetboonchu FA Group, Nontachai Sit O, Kaoklai Kaennorasing, Penaik Sitnumnoi, Kwankhao Mor Rattanabandit, Chaowarit Jockygym, Aikpracha Meenayothin, Panomrunglek Kiatmuu 9, Kaotam Lookprabat, Tukkatatong Petpayathai.
Sam-A had a fight in Japan on July 29, 2016, he defeated Japanese Yuya Kono by KO.
And in 2018, Sam-A made a shattering comeback by becoming the One Championship World Champion in 135 lbs. He first knocked out Irishman Joseph Lasiri in Manila, Philippines, then, on May 18, 2018 in Singapore, he defeated Dutch champion Sergio Wielzen by knockout and won one of the most coveted titles of the moment, the One Championship belt!
Sam-A lost his One Championship title to English champion Jonathan Haggerty who beat him on points.
On December 26, 2019, Sam-A won the World One Championship title in Kick Boxing style in 125 lbs against Chinese champion Wang Junguang.
On February 28, 2020, Sam-A won his last belt, the One Championship World Champion’s Belt in Muay Thai in 125 lbs, he defeated Australian champion Rocky Ogden and victoriously defended his title against Australian Josh Tonna as he was beaten by KO, October 9, 2020!
At 37 years, “The Burning Left Leg” is still devastating. The Lumpinee champion who worked on the construction sites for a miserable salary is now winning purses of one million baht. A beautiful story that ends like a fairy tale. Sam-A definitely marked the history of Muay Thai!
BY SERGE TREFEU