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WBC Muay Thai , Lamsongkram Chuwattana : On September 12th , 2007
Lamsongkram Chuwattana added a new legion of fans in the United States to his huge international following at the weekend yet he still craves respect for his skills in Thailand. Lamsongkram, real name Supachai Chansot, defended his WBC Muay Thai middleweight title at the Normandie Casino in Los Angeles on Saturday night and was a big hit with the sell-out American crowd on the 10-fight show.
Victorious trips to England, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan and Japan have made the 23-year-old road warrior a big star in martial arts yet he wishes he could get the same recognition in his own homeland.
''I am more popular outside Thailand than inside it and I hope that will change,'' said the Udon Thani-born boxer.
''My style of Muay Thai is appreciated abroad but sometimes Thai fans aren't very happy when they see me fight and I don't know why that is.
''In Thailand Muay Thai is heavily linked to gambling but abroad the foreigners just love and respect the sport for what it is.
''They love the history, the culture and the action and this is a big positive for our country.
''Even though my fight was at a casino on Saturday they didn't allow betting.
''Foreigners just want to see good fights between skilled opponents.''
Lamsongkram outlined differing reactions of his weekend points win over French number one Yohan Lidon as evidence of the dilemma he faces.
''The crowd really liked the fight and I heard later that the US television commentators were very impressed,'' he said.
''But my manager told me after the second round that if I had been boxing like that in Thailand they would have been booing me.
''Somebody had phoned him from Thailand and said the media were saying I wasn't fighting well because I was missing with some of my kicks.
''He was very angry and told me to be more focused and also to keep my hands up instead of being so relaxed.''
While the former Ratchadamnoen Stadium champion never lost control of the action, Lidon's aggressive tactics in the early sessions meant the fans in attendance had plenty to cheer about.
It was only when the taller Lamsongkram made full use of his knees and elbows that the challenger wilted to the delight of the crowd.
The married father-of-two inflicted a deep cut on Lidon's forehead in the final session and the brave Frenchman, from Lyon, was forced to soak up serious punishment before the bell.
Before the formality of a unanimous points victory was announced, Lamsongkram jumped onto the ropes on each side of the ring and pointed to the elbow that had done the damage.
The fans loved it but Lamsongkram, who is nicknamed 'Yow' because of his 183cm height, said he doubted he would have got the same reaction in the kingdom.
''When I go abroad I like to put on a show with my ring entrance and during the fight but I have to be more restrained in Thailand,'' he said.
''Foreign crowds like to be entertained in that manner and you have to do it to become an attraction but it doesn't go down well at home.''
He also paid tribute to Kaew Fairtex, who also travelled from Thailand to defend his WBC super-featherweight title on the same bill.
''Kaew boxed very well throughout and gave a complete performance,'' he said.
''He is very talented and hopefully he will get more opportunities like this one.''
Lamsongkram started boxing at the age of eight and was inspired by his grandfather, who had been a fighter in his younger years.
He estimates he has had more than 200 fights but is now finally hitting the big time after years of learning his trade.
''Muay Thai has exploded in popularity around the world in the last few years and that is good for me,'' said Lamsongkram.
''It means I have many opportunities to travel, fight and represent Thailand.
''Some boxers don't like to go abroad but it doesn't bother me at all.
''It is a challenge because foreigners box in different styles and so every fight is a test.
''Many throw more punches than Thais but they aren't as good at grappling so there are many things to consider.''
Lamsongkram said his favourite fighter was gym mate Kaiyasit Chuwattana because of his personality as well as his skills.
''Kaiyasit has good technique but he is also a strong and good character and that is why I like him,'' said Lamsongkram, who trains twice a day, seven days a week with a solitary short break on Sunday morning.
''Some boxers are good inside the ring but bad outside it and that is not the right way to be.
''To be a fighter you must be respectful at all times and be aware of what you stand for, especially if you go to another country.
''I am proud to have done well for Thailand and I am prepared to go anywhere to fight.
''All my team have to do is tell me when and where and I will be ready.''
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