Muay Thai History: Behind the Real Life Street Fighter Sagat
Street Fighter Sagat’s Real Life Muay Thai History
Muay Thai history might be ancient but it came to the masses through video games. Even for those who weren’t alive to witness the 1987 release of Street Fighter, Sagat has become a name to be feared. Maybe you’ve flinched at the sight of a man wearing Thai shorts, no shirt and an eyepatch over his right eye, or pronounced your friend KO’d after an (according to you) unbeatable triple kick?
You may not have been aware of the connection but on all of these occasions, you were plagiarizing the fearful Sagat.
Who was the Street Fighter, Sagat?
Sagat was a villainous character of the game, Street Fighter, who became notoriously difficult to defeat. However, what most people don’t realise is that Sagat Petchyindee is also a real person, in fact he is, or at least was, a professional Muay Thai boxer.
In 1958, the small town of Phimai, Nakhon Ratchasima welcomed a baby boy would become one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time. With a celebrated family history of kickboxing, Sagat was quickly introduced to the sport by one of his ten siblings.
By the age of 16, Sagat had already gained a reputation as unbeatable, fighting 20 times without a loss. After being scouted by Boonyeam Sophon, the owner of Porntawee boxing camp (Nonthaburi), his success continued and he became both admired and feared for his deadly triple kick – the move which was later made famous again by Street Fighter.Chumporn Sangvilert
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No fighter is unbeatable.
Despite these outstanding stats and Street Fighter’s depiction, nobody can keep winning forever. This is true for even the fictional Sagat from the Street Fighter series, who boasts a massive scar across his chest from fighting against Akuma in a martial arts tournament.
In our real life counterpart, Sagat was still a young man, at age 25 and lost nine fights in a row. For the once unbeaten fighter, this was beyond belief and he was convinced that he was cursed by black magic.
After consoling with many monks, however, he felt refueled by their wisdom and discovered his new weapon – the uppercut (another feature of Street Fighter). The uppercut consolidated his reputation as the knockout king, and he retired at the age of 28 after winning 266 of 317 fights, 151 of which were victories by KO.
The monks may have been able to resurge Sagat from a loss of confidence but the draw of a growing drug addiction were beyond their powers. Between the years of 2002 and 2009 he was arrested three times for consumption and then later distribution, leaving him with a five year prison sentence.
Where is Sagat Petchyindee today?
Sagat did manage to eventually kick his drug habit (couldn’t resist that one) and get his life back on track by training other people. If you want to meet your computer game hero or maybe your a genuine fan of real Muay Thai (although the difference between digital and real is becoming more blurry by the day), why not check out Sek Loso boxing camp and who knows, maybe then your ‘unbeatable’ triple kick will actually hit your friend. If you’re watching Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, it’s likely you’re witnessing Sagat’s students.