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PANOMRUNGLEK: THE NEW RISING STAR : On October 8, 2006
Once at a WBC Convention held in New York, I was presented with a beautiful book on Papa Jack, written by Randy Roberts. It was perhaps the best sports biography of the colourful fighter. Before reading the book I had heard many stories about the legend. Some were fictitious and some true. This book was outstanding. It was a well-researched biography. As was rightly pointed out by two-time world heavyweight champion, the late Floyd Patterson, the writer's portrait of Papa Jack chipped away the myth and breathed life into the great fighter.
It was also an absorbing history of the ring in the early 1900s. A fine study that reflected many disturbing realities of America at the time.
Similarly, the lives of Thai boxers have been very challenging and tough. They have faced hard and difficult times. Their battle to climb up the ladder of prominence and fame have not been easy.
However, they have been fortunate. Unlike most fighters elsewhere in the world, Muay Thai has provided them with a fine springboard from which they have been able to gain prominence. It has provided them in particular, with the basic and fundamental lesson which fighters need most, namely a brave heart, with which they have been able to overcome fear and fright.
Like the life of Jack Johnson, some of their background stories are indeed fascinating.
No one knew about Panomrunglek Kratingdaeng's background and how he got into Muay Thai, before entering the Queensbury rules of boxing.
He hails from Buri Ram. His father Sruang Iemsiri and mother Priew are farmers from the northeast of Thailand.
On Thursday, after he won the WBC Youth Flyweight championship from Lito Sisnorio of the Philippines, with an intelligent display of attacking boxing, I asked him what made him take to this tough sport and he said this was the best opening young men like him could have. given his tough family background.
Yes, Muay Thai and boxing have provided excellent openings for young Thais, especially for those living in the provinces.
Panomrunglek, whose real name is Boonsom Iamsiri, left his home at the age of 15, in the hope of doing well in life.
He came to Bangkok where he joined the Muay Thai camp belonging to Sudjai Pumpraphon and before long he blossomed into an excellent exponent of the tough martial art.
He mastered the subtle nuances of fighting and rose up the ranks to be ranked as one of the best flyweights in the Lumpini Stadium. He was crowned flyweight champion last year and was soon garnering big purses.
His outstanding style and excellent movement in the ring won the admiration of many fans who flocked to watch him in action.
It's true he is young, but Panomrunglek made good, displaying excellent speed and punching power.
He had only one fight in the Queensbury rules, a six-rounder, against a tough Filipino, Rocky Fuentes before his manager Piyarat pitted him against Denbura Ekarin on October 8, 2004 to bid for the Asian title. Panomrunglek passed the test with flying colours. He won the title via an eighth round technical knockout win.
A southpaw with an attacking style, it didn't take Panomrunglerk long to exhibit his outstanding talent and ability.
''I loved to box and to learn about other opponents, especially their style and art of fighting,'' he said.
He defended his Asian title nine times, registered five knockout victories.
When his manager Piyarat was looking for a challenger to win back the WBC Youth Flyweight Championship title which Fahpetchnoi Sorchitrpatana had lost via a humiliating fifth round knockout defeat three months ago to Sisnorio, the first name that came to mind was Panomrunglek.
He was very confident, the young southpaw, with his elegant style was capable of defending himself against the strong punches which the tough Filipino could throw.
And that's what happened on Thursday at the Bangpli, Samut Prakarn. Panomrunglek completely outclassed Lito and made him look a novice with a beautifully executed exhibition of attacking boxing. His fearless, aggressive style, blunted every effort the Filipino made to retain his title.
The Filipino came into this fight having trained hard. His bulging knuckles showed the amount of work he had put in for this fight. Lito tried to win but he could not upset the Thai.
But the fact remains that Thailand has a promising young fighter in Panomrunglek, of whom a lot will be heard of in the years to come, provided he keeps his head well screwed on.
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