Combat sports are an ever-changing landscape of fighters, with new names popping up constantly. All fighters have heart, and all fighters have talent, yet of all the fighters who have stepped up over the years, there are some who stick in our minds, who changed the way we think about the sports we love, and who are truly inspirational to today’s generation of martial artists.
In this new series we wanted to take a moment to appreciate some of the true legends of fighting, looking at some of the most inspirational, most influential, and the most fearsome fighters out there. You can find the whole of the series here. Give us a shout in the comments section at the end of this article to let us know which fighter is an inspiration for you.
In this part, we’re going back to the world of Muay Thai, to look at a fighter whose skill and dominance in the ring is so impressive that one of the hardest bosses in the original Street Fighter game, Sagat, is reportedly based on him – Sagat Petchyindee.
So who is Sagat Petchyindee?
Sagat is considered by many to be amongst the greatest Muay Thai fighters, alongside names such as Samart, Dieselnoi, and even modern fighters such as Saenchai. If you haven’t heard of any of those fighters, make sure you go and check them out, they’re great reference points for anybody interested in the art of Thai boxing.
Sagat (also referred to as Sakad), was a Muay Thai fighter during in what’s considered as the golden age of Muay Thai, which unfortunately means there isn’t a lot of footage of his fights. In total, he stepped into the ring for 317 Fights, winning 266 of those bouts (151 by KO). He ended up being a 3 times Lumpinee Champion, as well as a 3 times Rajadamnern Champion, both of which were by far the biggest stadiums in Thailand at the time.
What helped Sagat’s career was the fact that he also fought as a boxer, becoming the OPBF World Boxing Champion, the WBC Asian Boxing Champion, and holding the Thai lightweight title, giving him an advantage over most Muay Thai fighters with his hands.
Currently Sagat shares his knowledge as a coach, and has previously had Firas Zahabi of Tristar MMA Gym train underneath him. At the time, Firas was one of the first westerners allowed at the Petchyindee camp. I’d strongly suggest you take a look at the training session Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu filmed a session with him recently here, where you can witness some of the key elements of his style. It’s really impressive watching the mechanics of his boxing skills and how they’re optimised for the range and style of Muay Thai, for example his uppercuts which fire forward at a much straighter angle than usual.
Sagat’s style isn’t fancy or “tricky,” so much as just solid. There’s a purity and truth to his movements that is unmistakable when you see him move. He’s carved away all the excess and it’s just this clean line, every time. It’s beautiful.
– Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu (source)
The fights that will never be forgotten
Sagat fought against many opponents, and faced many of Thailand’s best at the time. Notably he faced up with Dieselnoi (mentioned a moment ago), a 140lb figther walking around at 6 feet and 2 inches tall, feared for his knee-heavy style of fighting. Sagat defeated Dieselnoi twice out of the three times they faced up, which is pretty impressive considering that Dieselnoi only ever lost 10 fights in total throughout his career. There’s actually rare footage online showing parts of one of these fights, which is worth a watch. Take a look.
Perhaps the best remembered fight would be his match up against Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham, a 7-time World Champion and Hall of Fame worthy kickboxer. As well as being seen by a passionate western kickboxing audience, the fight is one of the best quality recordings of any of Sagat’s fights, which shows off his ferocity and skill.
Check out the highlight video below by the brilliant Lawrence Kenshin, which shows parts of numerous fights, including the fight with Peter Cunningham.
If you liked this article, let us know. We’d love to hear the things you remember most about him, and which other inspirational fighters you think deserve to be featured in an article like this.