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The 10 Best Muay Thai Fighters Every Fan Should Know

muay thai legends
best muay thai fighters

Many amazing Muay Thai warriors took part in 200+ matches and left their hearts inside the ring. Some of them are legends, others are remembered as “average joes”, but all of them deserve a huge level of respect for their achievements.

It’s hard to become a champ, but the difference between the belt owner and a legend is gigantic, it’s even harder to reach legendary status. When you hear the word Thai boxing, these names will probably come to your mind first. I hope you’ll see your best Muay Thai fighter on this list, too.

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Best Muay Thai Fighter

These outstanding warriors will always be remembered in the history of ancient Siamese martial art.

Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn

dieselnoi chor thanasukarn

For me, Dieselnoi is the best Muay Thai fighter when it comes to height/power ratio. Let me explain. This fighter was extremely tall for Thai boxing, which led to an outstanding reach advantage and a higher center of gravity.

Every single fighter who ended up in the clinch with Thanasukarn was having a hard time. Legendary knees to the head or body were super-dangerous, especially from pummel or single-collar clinch. He was also very dangerous from over-under due to very tricky sweeps and trips.

Dieselnoi dominated in the 1980s, destroying foe by foe at Lumpinee Stadium. Even some of the greatest names of the sport were unable to defeat him. I like to call him “Jon Jones of Muay Thai”.

All right, the competition was different back then and the fights were not broadcasted on every single platform. So it’s hard to compare Dieselnoi with the best Muay Thai fighter nowadays. But I don’t know a better khao (knee) fighter in the history of this sport. Can you give me a hand, please? Maybe you know a better one?


Chamuakpetch Harpalang

chamuakpetch harpalang

Here is another older name, another arguably best Muay Thai fighter who deserved the spot on our list – Chamuakpetch Harpalang. He’s a real legend because of four Lumpinee title victories and impressive Rajadamnern title wins. This is a great success, but wins are even greater because this legend fought across 7 different weight divisions!

A master of clinch and knees, Harpalang was nicknamed “Computer Knee Striker”. If you played the Tekken series, you can compare Chamuakpetch’s knees with Bruce Irvin and Fahrkumram (all right, Harpalang is not a giant, but there are similarities in technique). His extremely precise mid and long-range knees were an enigma, even for the greatest competitors of his era.

Many see Chamuakpetch as one of the all-time greatest all-rounders of this sport. In the year 1985, he received the Fighter of the Year award for his results and achievements. I am sorry because he didn’t fight in the 2000s. After all, I bet he’d be the most entertaining Muay Thai warrior to watch.


Saenchai

saenchai

I have to share a secret with you. For me, Saenchai is absolutely the best Muay Thai fighter and the greatest all-time legend.

Technically, Saenchai is an outstanding fighter with wonderful combos and great kicks, but I’d favor his outstanding scissor kick that turned the lights out on many opponents.

Very tricky fighting style. Saenchai confuses every single opponent with his unorthodox movement. Oh, don’t forget his leg sweeps and weird counters, he’s always ready to surprise you with a new movement of the clinch. If you want to defeat him, just stay away from close combat.

Fighting out of Yokkao Gym in Bangkok, Saenchai trains and improves his skills every day. Despite he is 40+ years old, giving up is not an option. Dojo, training sessions, marching forward – there’s no surrender, there’s no retreat for Saenchai!

I’m a huge fan of this fighter due to his mental toughness and ability to overcome the greatest crisis in life.


Sagat Petchyindee

sagat petchyindee

Sagat was worldwide known for his outstanding fighting intelligence and ability to adjust in the split of a second. He’s also remembered as a powerful one-punch and one-kick knockout artist. It was very hard to defend his violent blows.

Yet, Sagat is famous for his role in one of the greatest fighting video games in history – the Street Fighter series. A decorated Thai boxer, known for an outstanding level of toughness and hard-to-defend level change combinations, defends the honor of his state with pride.

Petchyindee received many awards. He’s a former Lumpinee and world champ. Sagat is a coach nowadays but you can say that Muay Thai has always been his life. Even when his life ends, his popularity never will, because diehard Street Fighter fans will never forget the name of the violent technical Thai warrior.


Samart Payakaroon

samart payakaroon

One could say that Samart fought excellently on two fronts. He won 4 Lumpinee Stadium tournaments, but his other achievement was even greater – WBC world boxing champion.

A Muay Thai legend and fist-striking specialist, Samart was amazingly well-rounded in violent punch exchanges and dirty boxing. In Thai combats, he based a lot of his strategy on counters. This tricky fighter was intercepting foes with his quick teep kick and moving like a cat. You had to be Tom Cruise from “Mission Impossible” to harm Samart’s head.

Opponents were having a hard time getting too close, but even if they somehow trick him into a close-range brawl, super-fast fist combinations were forcing them to retreat and fight long-range.

Payakaroon was having fun in the ring too, so he got a nickname “The Muhammad Ali of Muay Thai”. I think it’s not particularly hard to guess why. For me, this is the best Muay Thai fighter when it comes to the boxing aspect of the game.


Thongchai Tor Silachai

thongchai tor silachai

As a diehard fan of Saenchai, I was thinking that he’ll never go down. Yet, Thongchai was a talented kid back then, with excellent tricky shots. And it happened – Silachai turned the lights out on Saenchai and became a legend!

The former five-time Lumpinee Stadium champion and three-time Thai boxer of the year was one of the toughest and best Muay Thai names the world has ever seen.

This guy can take a violent beating, continue to march forward, and destroy the opponent even after being knocked down two or three times. Too bad he hasn’t taken part in the Lethwei tournament.

Muay Thai is known for fun-to-watch competitions and very tough competitors, but this guy put everything on a whole new level with his “iron body”. In one of the matches, his opponent checked more than 20 kicks, but Thongchai was laughing at his face. No limping, no pain. What was this guy made of? I’d like to know the recipe… Maybe he was born as a part of an extraterrestrial experiment?

I also remember this guy for top-notch clinching, punches, and kicks. Please look at this lovely highlight reel.

Unfortunately, Tongchai’s law issues threw a shade at his reputation and achievements, but he has changed his life. Nowadays, this amazing Thai warrior works as a coach for many gyms, transferring his outstanding level of knowledge to the upcoming generations.


Apidej Sit-Hirun

apidej sit hirun

Here’s another classic name on my list, Apidej fought in the 1960s. But it is believed that he took part in inspiring the golden Muay Thai era in the 1980s thanks to his lovely performances.

I like to call this guy “Justin Gaethje of Muay Thai”, as he’s one of the most violent leg and body kickers in the history of this sport. His other strikes were very hard too, so a lot of his opponents left the ring with broken arms or hands. Some of them even retired.

But there is another lovely achievement in his records. Apidej Sit-Herun was heralded as the fighter of the century by the late Rama IX. Yeah, guys, this is not a joke! He’ll be remembered forever in Thai boxing annals. For me, he is one of the greatest powerhouses and most violent kickers ever.


Nai Khanom Tom

nai khanom tom

Now it’s time to discuss the legends poll again. In the early stages of Muay Thai, it was a very violent sport with fewer limits and rules. There were no gloves, and the loops of hemp on the fists were way more deadly.

Nai would’ve been way more famous if he participated in the sport nowadays. Khanom Tom became one of the most glorious Muay Thai fighters around 250 years ago.

Nai was a prisoner of war in Burma. “Luckily” for him, the Burmese king wanted to make a comparison between a Burmese and Thai martial art, to check which one is better. Thai prisoners picked Nai Khanom Tom to defend the honor of Thailand (ancient Siam back then). This was a wonderful decision.

The legendary Thai warrior was superior. He was destroying fighters from Burma, one by one. He dispatched 10 fighters in a row, which was a massive success back then. It impressed the Burmese king too.

Nowadays, Nai Khanom Tom is a national hero of Thailand. But I feel sorry because he lived 250 years ago. After all, I’d pay a lot of money to watch him versus Sagat, Buakaw, or Saenchai. I think this legendary warrior fully deserves his spot among the greatest names in the history of this sport.


Buakaw Banchamek

buakaw banchamek

For me, Buakaw Banchamek has always been “Mr. Influence”, and the guy who did the most for the development of Muay Thai outside of Thailand. He took part in so many international competitions and fought masters of different martial arts under modified rules.

Honestly, I’ve seen Buakaw in the international scene in the bout against Masato in 2004. And the Japanese kickboxer was a legend back then at K-1, but Buakaw gave him a hard time.

K-1 rules and Muay Thai rules are way different, but for me, Buakaw is the best Muay Thai fighter in the international scene ever for a good reason – his amazing ability to adjust to the new, modified set of rules.

Banchamek (also known under the moniker “White Lotus”) is a master of body kicks and knockout punch combos ( I‘m talking about kickboxing competitions). He fought many times toe-to-toe with some of the greatest names in the world and didn’t break the rules. And a great athlete, too! Hats off to the most influential Muay Thai warrior from Thailand.

Technically, Banchamek is a 7/10 fighter, but his heart and cardio are out of this world. It is super-hard to knock him out. Buakaw is known for constant pressure and aggression.


Yodsanklai Fairtex

yodsanklai fairtex

Yodsanklai Fairtex is the winner of Contender Asia, a tournament that gathered 16 amazing names and masters of Thai boxing. This fighter draws attention because of his odd moniker “The Boxing Computer”.

But he didn’t get his nickname accidentally. Fairtex is a super-skillful fighter who constantly looks for the smallest crack in the opponent’s guard, scoring point and after a point. His level of precision is amazing. It is almost impossible to block his strikes, as Yodsanklai feints a lot. You’ll need another super-computer to parry him.

Fairtex’s favorite strike is left roundhouse kick, but he can land it everywhere, from legs to stomach and head. This master of level change officially retired in 2017, but he is probably the best Muay Thai fighter when it comes to the tactical aspect of the game.


Conclusion

There were many legendary Thai boxing names throughout generations. Some are national heroes, while others are remembered by an amazing number of titles and promoting Muay Thai in the western world.

It is very hard to determine the most successful names here because these are mostly legends from different eras of Thai boxing. Let me ask you a question. Who’s your best Muay Thai fighter on this list?

Deni

Deni

Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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