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Historic victory for Samson : On April 4, 2007
Thailand's Samson Sor Siriporn became the first prisoner to win a world boxing title yesterday. She captured the vacant WBC women's light-flyweight crown with a unanimous points victory over Ayako Miyano of Japan at Klong Prem prison.
''I'm really glad,'' Samson said after her victory in front of a large crowd which included fellow prisoners.
''The Corrections Department has given me support. If I was not here in the prison, I might be a drug addict.''
Samson, who hails from Lop Buri, is an orphan and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for being involved in drugs. She has two years left on her sentence.
Natheee Chitsawang, director-general of the Corrections Department, said the new WBC champion could be granted early parole so that she could defend the title in overseas fights.
After her convincing win, Nathee said officials would start considering her parole, a process which takes two months.
''We gave her the opportunity to develop her boxing skills,'' said Nathee. ''From now, her life will change.''
He said that this victory would also inspire the other inmates, also serving sentences for dealing with drugs, to change their lives.
''They will be inspired to make good through boxing instead of going back to crime,'' he said.
Asked what she would do if she was released, the 27-year-old boxer said she would like to open a grocery store.
Samson, or Siriporn Taweesuk, started boxing in 2005 and bid for the WBC strawweight title against Japan's Nanako Kikuchi in 2006 and lost.
But yesterday, having gone up in weight from the 105-pound strawweight division, she fought in the 108-pound light-flyweight class and displayed tremendous composure and confidence as she went into action against Miyano.
Samson scored with well timed straight lefts and right hooks as her Japanese opponent ran round the ring in the first two rounds, hoping to tire out the Thai. But in the end it was Miyano who ran out of steam, and became an easy target for Samson.
''It was very hot and I made the mistake of trying to run her out of stamina. I got tired fast. I had no option but to run into her punches later in the fight,'' said Miyano after the fight.
Nevertheless, Miyano was happy that Samson's victory has given her new life ''I am happy for her,'' she said.
The Thai won the first three rounds 10-9 on the score cards of all three judges _ Jae Bong Kim (Korea), Franz Marti (Switzerland) and Noppharat Sricharoen (Thailand) _ and suffered her first setback in the fourth.
Kim and Noppharat picked Miyano the winner in that session while Marti scored all 10 rounds in favour of the Thai gave it to Samson.
''It was her boxing style and ability to counter-punch which won for Samson the title. There was no way I could have scored any round in favour of the Japanese boxer,'' said Marti while summing up the contest.
Kim said that he saw Miyano win only two rounds, the fourth and the seventh, while Noppharat said that in his opinion, the Japanese took the fourth and ninth rounds,
But on the whole Samson dominated the action and was a deserved winner. Kim scored it 97-93, Noppharat 98-92 and Marti 100-91 after the 10 rounds of action.
Inspite of the sweltering heat, a large number of boxing fans turned up to witness the contest. Special arrangements were made for them to get into the open-air arena which was constructed outside the prison premises.
They gave Samson a rousing cheer when Natee and WBC vice-president Pol Gen Kovid Bhakdibhumi put the belt round her.
Referee Bruce McTavish of New Zealand said he would remember this world title fight for the rest of his life.
''Given the wonderful circumstances in which it was held, it gives me a unique feeling. It is as good as having refereed half a dozen WBC title fights. I will never forget this contest,'' he said.
All inmates from Klong Prem prison witnessed the action on television and special arrangements were made for some to come out and cheer Samson and the full card of 10 bouts.
There was also a men's fight featuring Veerawat Chuvatana, a former Rajdamnern Stadium's strawweight champion who is serving a prison sentence for assault. He stopped his opponent in four rounds.
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