Nak Muay Prodigy
If you have been following the Muay Thai scene in Bangkok for the past few years, there is one Thai fighter that has rapidly risen to Muay Thai stardom: Sangmanee Sor Tienpo. Given the nickname “Tharok Nung Laann” (Million Dollar Baby), Sangmanee was born to fight. Since 2012, Sangmanee has been carving a name for himself in the sport of Muay Thai by beating some of the best fighters in the country.
Sangmanee has won a number of Lumpinee and Ratchadamnern titles at different weight divisions in both stadiums. At 15 years of age Sangmanee won Thailand’s “Best Fighter of the Year,” an award that is considered the highest honor in the sport of Muay Thai. He has fought and beat almost all of the top fighters in his weight classes including Superbank, Prajanchai and Superlek, just to name of a few.
His manager has aspirations for Sangmanee to become a gold medalist in amateur boxing at the next Olympics – a feat that has only been done once by the legendary Somrack Khamsing.
Thailand’s last boxing hopeful Kaew Pongprayoon, was offered a staggering 100 million baht (3 million dollar) prize if he took home a gold medal in the Olympics (he would win a silver). That amount is substantially more than any Champion Muay Thai fighter would make over the course of a Muay Thai career – which is the main reason why his manager wants him to pursue boxing.
Even though Sangmanee was supposed to retire from Muay Thai and focus solely on boxing training, he has continued to have Muay Thai fights.
Sangmanee is known as a technical boxer and likes to use his head to outsmart his opponents. He is able to adapt his fighting style to match any type of opponent he faces in the rings. He excels in all areas of Muay Thai, which is one of the reasons why he is a difficult matchup for most of his opponents. Sangmanee prefers to fight technical fighters rather than heavy hitters. He stated that his hardest fight was against Dedkad Por Pongsawan – a fighter who is very dangerous with his fists.
From Humble Beginnings To a Rising Star
Growing up as a young boy Sangmanee came from a family who had nothing. His father was a field worker that fought in Muay Thai fights to earn some extra cash for the family. Although Sangmanee’s father never made it big in the sport of Muay Thai, Sangmanee would grow up as a boy admiring his father and wanting to follow in his footsteps.
At the age of 6, Sangmanee’s father would start training him to become a Muay Thai Champion – something his father was unable to achieve in the sport himself. Sangmanee’s absolute admiration for his father can be seen in an interview where he stated, “I used to tell my father, if you want anything, I will give it to you.”
With little money to their name, Sangmanee’s father trained him from a small gym they made at their home. After only a few months of training, Sangmanee’s father would start to look for fights for his son to help earn money for the family.
His father would later purchase a second hand bike in order to drive his son to the different stadiums to fight – often driving hours to and from the different events to ensure his son would get a fight.
After cleaning up all of his competition since he began fighting at the age of 6, he would start to gain recognition nationally in his early teens. Shortly after, Bangkok would soon start calling for the rising star.
Relocating to Bangkok and Rise to Stardom
At the age of 15, Sangmanee would pack up his belongings with his family and move to 13 coins gym in Bangkok, where they wouldn’t have to work the farm and drive hours on the motorbike to go to his fights. The move to Bangkok was seen as an obvious next step in his career, as Bangkok is the Mecca of Muay Thai.
In Bangkok, Sangmanee would train with his Muay Thai idol Saenchai and develop into the superstar he is today. During his first year of training and fighting in bangkok Sangmanee would fight in the top stadiums including Lumpinee and Ratchadamnern. He would go on to win the 2012 Fighter of the Year award, making him a household name to anyone who closely follows the sport.
2013 would also see Sangmanee dominate the Muay Thai circuit in Bangkok beating top level guys like Wanchana Or Boonchuay, Mongkonchai Kwaitonggym, Prajanchai Por Petnamtong just to name a few. Sangmanee shows no signs of slowing down as he would win 16 fights and lose just 1 in a single year of fighting.
In February 2014 Sangmanee won the new King Fighter tournament that took place at the New Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok.
Even though he was the youngest fighter in the tournament at 16 years, he showed why he is highly touted as the best in Thailand. In the first round of action he would outpoint Superlek in a very technical fight and would later go on to beat superstar Suberbank in the tournament finals to take home a prize of 300,000 baht ($10,000) for the tournament win.
Balancing Fighting and Education
Just because Sangmanee is the top level Nak Muay doesn’t mean he neglects his schooling. Although Sangmanee trains and fights like all the other top level guys in the sport, he is still a full time student. Regarding his school he once stated, “I go to school every day. In the morning I go running for one hour at 5 o’clock then I go to school at 7 o’clock, school finishes at 4 o’clock and after that I go to training. Sometimes I do feel tired but I don’t want to stop going to school until I have finished in three years time,” he said.
Although most teenage kid’s would be intimidated by this type of schedule, Sangmanee has showed no signs of slowing down. His school has been very accommodating of his Muay Thai career, allowing him to take a week off before an upcoming fight. Everyday after school he has a teacher drive him directly to 13 coins gym so he can train.
Fulfilling a Childhood Promise
Even though Sangmanee is only 16 years old (he turned 18 years old in 2015), he has achieved more than most fighters will achieve in a lifetime. At this stage in his career, its safe to say that Sangmanee is a role model for other young fighters who are hoping to use Muay Thai as a means to better their lives.
He is a shining example that with enough hard work and perseverance you can achieve anything you set your mind to, no matter how old you are. Sangmanee as worked tireless his whole life to fulfill that one promise he made to his father as a young boy growing up in rural Thailand.
“I used to tell my father, if you want anything, I will give it to you” – Sangmanee Sor Tienpo
Name: Sangmanee Sor Tienpo (Birth name: Pongsakorn Sittideth)
Record: Unknown (300+ fights)
Born: Mancha Khiri (Khon Kaen), Thailand
Weight: 52 – 56 kg (114-124lb)
Gym: 13 Coins Gym
Age: March 20, 1997 (16 years old)
King Fighter Tournament Semi-Finals vs Superlek:
King Fighter Tournament Finals vs Superbank:
Here is an amateur boxing Match Sangmanee had this year at the Asian Youth Boxing Championships: