« RING GENIUS »
Somrak was born on 16 January 1973. He is the second child of the Khamsing family, with three children, two boys and one girl. The Khamsing family was very poor, Somrak’s father drove buses in the Khon Kaen area. Somrak grew up in the village of Non Somboon near Ban Phai. A small country village in Khon Kaen Province in the Northeast region of Thailand.
His father, Daeng, was a former professional boxer named “Sornphet Petcharoen”. He taught his two sons Somrak and his older brother Somrot the basics of boxing.
Somrot was nicknamed “Rot” (Vehicle, pronounced Lote) because he was born on a bus that took him to the maternity ward. Somrak’s parents nicknamed him “Bus” (pronounced Beusse) so that the name rhymed with that of his older brother “Rot Bus” (The bus).
But Somrak got engaged very early with a basketball player named Oi Saowanee. She is still Somrak’s wife today. Somrak Khamsing and Saowanee Khamsing have two children, the eldest is a girl named Rakwanee Khamsing and the youngest is a boy named Phuwarak Khamsing. Rakwanee Khamsing has become a Thai social media star, she is considered one of the most popular influencers in Thailand.
At the time, the journalists distorted the nickname of Somrak «Bus» in «Bas» (Pronounced Basse which means basketball) because of his relationship with the basketball player Saowanee. Somrak is still known as “Bas”.
Somrak had many nicknames, he was also called «Jom Achariya» (The genius of the ring). And at the top of his career, the media had ironically nicknamed him “Mai Dai Mo Amata” (Don’t Boast Immortal). For Somrak often repeated that he was not a boaster but that he was the strongest and the best in the ring…
The slogan “Don’t brag”, especially in the glorious days of Somrak, was commonly used as a term by Thai teenagers.
Somrak and Somrot’s father, Khru Daeng, was a boxing enthusiast, he trained the children of his village. But his son, Somrak, at first, did not want to become a boxer like his big brother. He never trained, and he wasn’t that interested in boxing…
Mr. Daeng Khamsing absolutely wanted his two progeny to become great boxers. So, one day, he came to take his son at school, he pushed him around, scolded him, and forced him into a child boxing meeting. At the age of seven, without preparation, Somrak fought his first fight, winning points for the modest sum of 30 baht. He was destined to become a ring legend!
Somrak and his brother Somrot first fought under the names of Somrak Phetcharoen and Somrot Phetcharoen. Their manager was their father.
They then joined the Narong Gym camp. Narong Gym camp was located in the village of Ban Phai and belonged to Khru Narong Kongnarong and Somwang Khamtun. The camp was also called the Sor King Star. Somrak fought with the name Somrak Narong Gym and Somrak Sor King Star. Later, this camp also produced another ring legend, Saenchai Sor King Star!
Somrak quickly became a famous boxer in the northeast region, on the ring, his dexterity and innate technique destabilized all his opponents. His fantastic dodges and unpredictable blows were his great strength for the rest of his long career. His special «Jorakhe Fad Hang» (Crocodile sweeping his tail), a circular kick to the head that he often did during his fights, impressed the judges and the public.
Somrak is one of the greatest technicians in the history of Muay Thai!
When he was 12 years old, his father transferred Somrak and his brother to a large Bangkok camp, the Sit Aran Gym. The camp of Khru Aran Mitsaman. Somrak and Somrot changed their first and last names. They adopted the name of Phim Aran Sit Aran (Aran’s disciple for Somrot) and Phim Aranlek Sit Aran (Aran’s little disciple for Somrak). The Sit Aran Gym included champions Soming, Pimthong, Tamrawee and the legendary Jocky Sitkanpai.
The Sit Aran Gym was located in the Bangseu area, the same area as the prestigious Jocky Gym camp. The owner of the Jocky Gym camp, Master Somat Hongsakoul, also took the young Somrak under his wing. Phim Aranlek trained for several years on both gyms, fighting for the Sit Aran Gym and the Jocky Gym.
In Bangkok, the Khamsing brothers studied at Padungsitpittaya School, a school that taught both forms of boxing, Muay Thai and amateur Boxing. Somrak’s father died shortly after his sons began school in Bangkok…
Somrak then fought for the Kietpetch camp, the camp of the famous promoter Chun Kietpetch, a camp which is located in the district of Huaykwang in Bangkok.
In 1985, Somrak beat good fighters like Soraphong Por Pongsawang in Khon Kaen, Pichit Charoenphak in Chonburi, Singnoi Luksamroong, Saylamlek Muangrainou, Chalong Silpakorn, Lukrokthong Petchriracha, Rungroj Sor Ploenchit, Dejrit Sor Ploenchit, Majurat Sitkrupop (KO) in Samrong stadium, Prasathong Singkhumpha (KO), Suthipong Sitsaenma in Rangsit stadium, the future star of the rings Sakmongkol Sitchuchoke in Bo Raï, Kheowannoi Sor Kanokrat (KO), Ruangruang Kiatanan in Omnoi stadium.
The same year, he made his first fight in the big stadium of Bangkok, the Rajadamnern Stadium where he beat Superneng Luksamrong. In the stadium of Radja, he defeated Lukdjit Sitlongyou and Boby Chor Wigo.
Somrak began to fight also in the rules of amateur Boxing for his school in the weight category of – 52 Kg. When Somrak graduated from high school, he was recruited by the Royal Navy Gym, a boxing club run by the National Military Navy. Somrak won the Thai amateur championships and the National Games gold medal in Boxing.
In 1986, he mainly fought in amateur Boxing and did some fights in Muay Thai in the northeast region. In 1987, he made his first fight in the prestigious stadium of Lumpinee where he beat Rungroj Sor Sakpai.
In the stadium of Lumpinee, he defeated Phanomrung Sit Sor Wor Por, Samart Witthayakonsong and twice Sananchai Lukmongchol, he lost in points against Noppadet Narumon and Phanomrung Sit Sor Wor Por. In the stadium of Radja, he beat Pankao Sor Thanikul.
On March 22, 1988, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Somrak made the rematch against Phanomrung Sit Sor Wor Por whom he beat on points. The two fighters faced each other five times, Somrak won three matches and he lost two matches on points.
The following months, in the stadium of Lumpinee, he faced and beat by points three of the best fighters of the famous Sor Ploenchit Gym camp in Bangkok. On May 10, he beat Wuttichai Sor Ploenchit, on September 20, Warunee Sor Ploenchit and on December 30, King Sor Ploenchit.
In 1989, at the Lumpinee stadium, Somrak met ring terrors such as Samernoi Tor Boonlert (Radja Champion in 112 lbs in 1987, Radja Champion in 115 lbs in 1990 against Thanongdet Kiatphayathai) and Denneua Denmolee (Lumpinee champion in 105 lbs in 1984 at 18 years, Radja champion in 112 lbs in 1989, Radja champion in 115 lbs in 1990). He defeated Samernoi on 15 September and Denneua on 29 December.
Somrak also won big matches against Thanongdet Kiatpayathai, Chatchainoi Chawraiaoy, Sakchai Wongwianyai and Sukkasem Detchaowit.
During 1989, he lost only two points matches against Rungroj Singhlanthong, in February, and on June 23 against puncher Chainoi Muengsurin (Lumpinee champion in 115 lbs against star Karuhat, victory by KO).
On March 20, 1990, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Somrak met the rough Pimai Or Yuttanakon and won his match on points.
On 15 June 1990, the clash between the two rising stars of the country conquered the public of the Lumpinee stadium. Somrak (17 years) challenged Namkabuan Nongkee Phahuyuth (17 years). Namkabuan was a superb ring technician who won the Lumpinee belt in 130 lbs a year later. He beat star Cherry Sor Wanich and then kept his Lumpinee belt for six years. Somrak and Namkabuan had a great fight that ended with Phim Aranlek’s points victory!
Two months later, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Somrak met the other star of the rings of the moment, the fantastic Boonlay Sor Thanikul. Boonlay was nicknamed “Fedlek” (The Steel Twin) by Muay Thai fans. Author of many anthology matches, during his long professional career he made 400 fights for 300 victories. He won the Lumpinee belt in 115 lbs against Langsuan Phanyuthapum in 1990 and the Lumpinee belt in 122 lbs against Wangchannoi Sor Palangchai in 1992.
Boonlay was 19 years when he first faced Somrak. He won the Lumpinee stadium belt in 115 lbs, beating the legendary Langsuan Phanyuthapum in January 1990. Somrak and Boonlay had a magnificent fight, these two technicians controlled each other in turn during the five times of a very technical and tactical match. The decision for the judges was difficult and Boonlay was declared the winner of this superb fight!
Somrak and Boonlay have faced each other four times, always in technical and exciting matches, Boonlay beat Somrak once, Somrak won twice and they drew.
The following month, Somrak found Phanomrung Sit Sor Wor Por who defeated him on points.
On October 26, at the Lumpinee stadium, Somrak took a dazzling revenge on Boonlay Sor Thanikul!
At the beginning of the year 1991, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Somrak beat the solid Kukrit Sor Nayayam who was one of the strongest Muay Khao (Strong fighter in knees) of the circuit.
On March 26, in the stadium of Lumpinee, Somrak beat Kukrit Sor Nayayam again.
On May 17, at the Lumpinee stadium, Somrak and Boonlay Sor Thanikul drew. The two eternal rivals found themselves a month later, on June 11, at the Lumpinee stadium, for a fourth confrontation. Somrak won the last match between these two ring lords!
On August 27, at the Lumpinee Stadium, Somrak again challenged Panomrung Sit Sor Wor Por for a fourth match. Panomrung beat Phim Aran, Somrak’s big brother. Phim Aranlek was more than motivated to win this match. He beat Phanomrung to the points and avenged his older brother.
In 1992, Somrak fought only two major fights in Muay Thai because he fought mostly in amateur Boxing. He took part in the Barcelona Olympic Games in Spain with a victory and a defeat in points.
On Monday, January 27, 1992, at the Ratchadamnoen stadium, a titan fight took place. Ring genius Phim Aranlek (19 years) challenged legendary Chamophet Ha Phalang (29 years).
Chamophet has long held the record of the most crowned champion with nine belts won (5 belts of the Radja, 4 belts of the Lumpinee). He was nicknamed “The Computer Knee” and was voted “Best Boxer of the Year” in 1985.
That day, Somrak made a huge performance. Because in the morning, he fought in amateur Boxing for the title of champion of Thailand. He fought twice and won the national title. That evening, Somrak returned to the ring of the Ratchadamnoen stadium to fight in Muay Thai against the mighty Chamophet. Phim Aranlek finished the battle exhausted, on the verge of fainting. But he defeated his eldest in the rings!
On October 27, at the Lumpinee stadium, he faced the formidable Buakaw Por Pisichet. Buakaw was Phanomrung’s younger brother. Somrak had defeated Phanomrung a year earlier. Buakaw was determined to avenge his older brother, so determined that he inflicted a severe defeat on the ring prodigy. In the fourth round, Somrak collapsed KO after receiving several knee-to-body blows. It was his first defeat by KO…
In 1993 and 1994, Somrak only fought in amateur Boxing.
On March 31, 1995, Somrak returned to the Lumpinee stadium ring to face the solid Changnoi Srimongkol whom he beat on points.
On May 2, at the Lumpinee Stadium, Somrak (22 years) beat the young rider, Suwittlek Sor Sakowarat (23 years). Suwittlek then became WMC World Champion and winner of the famous Isuzu tournament in 1996. Somrak hit Suwittlek hard in the fourth round with a superb High Kick from the back leg.
Somrak has never conquered a belt of the great stadiums of Bangkok. But he was long ranked N°1 in the Lumpinee Stadium, beating all the best in his category. His largest purse in Muay Thai was 180,000 baht. He fought nearly 300 fights in Muay Thai for only a dozen defeats, a record!
In Boxing, he made 200 amateur fights for 150 victories.
For five years, Somrak only fought in Boxing.
Somrak became famous in Boxing for the first time in 1994. He was the only Thai athlete to win gold at the 12th Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan.
In 1995, Somrak won the SEA Games gold medal in Chiang Mai. He qualified for the final of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.
In this Olympic competition, Somrak changed his Thai name to a more English-speaking name. His name was “Somluck” so that the name would bring him good luck in his fights. He was lucky because he won all his matches. At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Somrak won the Olympic Gold Medal in – 54 kg by beating Bulgarian Seraphim Todorov in the final with a score of 8-5.
Somrak was the first Thai in history to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Boxing!
After receiving his gold medal Somrak became a superstar. On his return from Atlanta, the people of Thailand welcomed him triumphantly. He was the pride of his country. The first golden hero of a whole people. King Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej honored him by receiving him in his palace to congratulate him on his historic victory!
Somrak Khamsing was awarded the 1996 Boxing Award for Best Male Amateur Athlete by the Thai Sports Authorities!
The favorite athlete of the Thai started working in the entertainment industry, he played in a dozen movies and television series, also in several foreign films. He became a sports commentator on various TV channels.
Somrak made a lot of money. He opened a restaurant in the Kaset Nawamin area, a restaurant called “Somrak Korean BBQ” whose specialty is grilled pork. And he created his own boxing camp in Bangkok which he named the “Sor Khamsing Gym” (Today called the Thor Thepsuthin Gym).
Somrak had great fighters who represented his camp. The most famous was undoubtedly, the alien of the rings, Saenchai Sor Kingstar. Saenchai fought for several years under the fighter name of Saenchai Sor Khamsing.
His older brother Somrot Khamsing also had a great career in Boxing. In – 51 kg, he was among the best in the world in his category. Somrot was an Asian champion and a quarter-finalist at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
In Muay Thai, Somrot alias Phim Aran, has often fought in the main event in the stadium of Lumpinee, he has long been classified in the top 5 of the ranking of Lumpinee. Phim Aran has also faced champions that his little brother had fought like Darathong Kiatmuangtran, Chatchainoi Chawraiaoy, Phanomrung Sit Sor Wor Por, Thanongdet Kiatphayathai, Sukkasem Detchaowit!
The two Khamsing brothers had the same military rank, Lieutenant Colonel Somrot Khamsing and Lieutenant Colonel Somrak Khamsing.
Somrak Khamsing has participated four times at the Olympic Games in Boxing. A victory and a defeat in 1992 in Barcelona, five victories and a gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta, two victories and a defeat in 2000 in Sydney and a defeat in 2004 in Athens.
At the age of 27 years, in 2000, Somrak returned to fight under the rules of Muay Thai. On December 5, at the King’s Birthday show, he met the French champion Kamel Jemel whom he beat in points (Note that Somrak was 5 kg more than Kamel Jemel).
Somrak then made several fights against foreigners, he beat the Canadian Jowan Stringer (KO), the Dutch Ajay Balgobind, the Georgian Davit Kiria and drew against the Japanese Hiroki Ishii.
On October 4, 2012, in the stadium of Radja, Somrak Khamsing (40 years old) met the former champion of Radja and Lumpinee, Wanpadet Sakhroumay (51 years old). For this match, a Dumpan bet of two million eight hundred thousand baht was at stake. Somrak beat Wanpadet by TKO in the third round.
On 7 December 2012, at the Lumpinee Stadium, Somrak (40 years) challenged multiple champions Jomhod Kiatadisak (40 years) to a three million baht Dumpan, Somrak was coached by movie star Jean-Claude Vandamme. Jomhod won by points the match. The rematch took place on February 7, 2013, at the Radja Stadium, with a Dumpan of 6 million baht and Somrak beat Jomhod to the points!
Somrak had three more fights in 2013. In March, in the United States, he lost in points to Chike Lindsay.
On August 30, 2013, in Chonburi province, he participated in the famous Toyota Marathon tournament. Somrak beat the American Warren Stawon and in the final, the formidable Australian Victor Nagbe. At 41 year, Somrak became the big winner of the 2013 Toyota Marathon tournament in – 67 kg!
Somrak Khamsing is a true ring legend who marked his time. This unpredictable technician is the most famous boxing champion in Thailand with the legendary Khaosai Galaxy, Samart Payakaroon and Buakaw Por Pramuk!
BY SERGE TRÉFEU