Somrak Khamsing

Somrak Khamsing: Olympic Gold Medalist & Muay Thai Legend

Somrak Khamsing is one of the most impressive athletes in Muay Thai history, but his legacy has little to do with Muay Thai. The Thai-born athlete earned acclaim as he competed in boxing and was able to incredibly earn a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games. Somrak Khamsing is one of the highest celebrated fighters in Thai history.

In the world of boxing, certain names stand out not only for their skills in the ring but also for the inspiration they bring to an entire nation. Somrak Khamsing, a revered figure in the realm of Thai sports, is one such individual. With a remarkable journey that spans from humble beginnings to Olympic triumph, Khamsing’s story is one of determination and an unyielding passion for the sweet science.

Somrak Khamsing Stats

Name:Somluck Khamsing or Somrak Khamsing
Date of Birth:January 16, 1973
Place of Birth:Non Sombun, Ban Phai District, Thailand
Nickname:“Forever Boastful” and “Genius of the Ring”
Gym:Jocky Gym
Height:1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight:57 kg (126 lb)
Weight Classes:Featherweight Lightweight
Record(s):291 – 13 – 1 in Muay Thai and 150 – 50 in Boxing
Years Active:1985 – 2013
World Championships:Olympic Gold Medal in Boxing

Somrak Khamsing Early Life

Born on January 1, 1973, in the province of Buriram, Thailand, Somrak Khamsing’s life was shaped by a background that was far from opulent. Raised in a community where opportunities were limited, Khamsing discovered his love for combat sports at a young age. Drawn to the discipline and artistry, of Muay Thai he embarked on a journey that would take him from local Muay Thai rings to the grandest stage of all.

Somrak Khamsing began training in Muay Thai, The Art of Eight Limbs, at the age of seven with his brother. Not yet training in a gym, he would work on techniques and drills in their house together. The Thai-born striker explains that his older brother, Somrot Khamsing, who was adept in Muay Thai and boxing, was the inspiration for him to enter combat sports. It was a family of fighters as his father, Daeng, was also a fighter.

Even though he was not yet in a gym, the seven-year-old Somrak was taking fights during that time. Much of his Muay Thai career was fought when he was just a child, as is normal practice. According to one record, he earned a whopping 30 baht for his first victory.

The official record of has Somrak Khamsing 291 wins but much of this is disputed, it could be higher or lower because so many of his matches have no tape or official record associated as he was just a child. He claims that he has over 300 career victories.

Eventually, he would train at the Narong Gym alongside his brother. The main coach at the gym was Kru Narong. In addition to Somrak, this gym also boasts Muay Thai legend Saenchai as one of its pupils.

When Somrak turned 12 years old, he started taking his combat sports career much more seriously. Then he moved away from his home of Non Sombun to Thailand’s capital city; Bangkok. Bangkok is not only the capital of Thailand but the capital of Muay Thai worldwide. Whether one is looking to compete or train, Bangkok is where they want to be.

Once in Bangkok, he began training in the Sit Arane training facility and would eventually switch to Jocky Gym, jumping around trying to find the right fit. This gym was taught by Master Somat Hongsakoul. The reason the two boys found it to be such a great home for them was because it taught both Western Boxing and Muay Thai.

Somrak Khamsing Fighter

Somrak Khamsing in Muay Thai

In the 1980s, it was clear that Somrak was an outstanding Muay Thai fighter. The Thai-born athlete was making serious waves in both Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadiums. He had reached such a level that was ranked number one in his weight class but was unable to earn a Stadium Championship because no one wanted to fight him.

Speaking in an interview with Siam Fight Mag, he explained the situation:

“I do not have a belt in Muay Thai. I do a lot of fighting in Thai boxing. At the time I was Number 1 in 126 lbs in all stadiums. I have beaten all the champions of my category. But the promoters did not want to fight organized with me for a title because they knew I was going to win. I was too strong for their fighters. Even in the category over a 130 lbs, they fear me. That is why I am oriented in Boxing, the more it reported me more money”

During this period, Somrak was having major rivalries with Nak Muays such as Boonlay Sor Thanikul, fighting him in five matches, and Panomrung Sit Sor Wor Por who he faced in four bouts. Boonlay would go on to become a multi-time Lumpinee Champion.

In his Muay Thai career, he took the most pride when he was able to defeat Chamuekpet Hapalang. Chamuekpet was famed as he held nine world titles in Muay Thai. This Nak Muay had earned four titles in Lumpinee and five in Rajadamnern Stadium. Upon reflecting on his Muay Thai career, Somrak said his best moment was:

“In Muay Thai, it’s my victory against Chamophet. He was by far the best [fighter] in my time.”

While competing in Muay Thai, he was able to keep his boxing skills sharp by taking Boxing matches whenever he could. Towards the early 90s, the began taking a step back from Muay Thai to focus on his boxing career.

Somrak in Boxing

The year 1994 marked a pivotal turning point for Somrak Khamsing, as he catapulted to fame on the international boxing stage. At the 12th Asian Games held in Hiroshima, Japan, Khamsing clinched a remarkable victory, seizing the gold medal.

The following year, in 1995, Khamsing continued his rise by securing the gold medal at the SEA Games held in Chiang Mai. The following year he would earn his crown glory in the Olympic Games hosted in Atlanta, USA.

In the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA, Khamsing orchestrated a remarkable feat. Overcoming each opponent with unparalleled finesse, he blazed an impressive trail to the finals. The climactic moment arrived, and Khamsing’s skill and determination bore fruit as he bested Bulgaria’s Serafim Todorov, securing the coveted gold medal in the – 54 kg category with a score of 8-5.

The Bulgarian Serafim Todorov earn honours as being one of the few people to ever defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr., the two fought as amateurs in 1996.

Reflecting on his boxing career, Somrak said this was his best moment. He recalled:

“In Boxing of course this is my Gold Medal Games in Atlanta. In my return of Atlanta, all the people of Thailand made me an incredible host. I was the pride of my country. Our King made me honours.”

Somrak Khamsing’s storied Olympic story spans four appearances, each a chapter in his legacy. The stage was set in 1992, at Barcelona, where he experienced both victory and defeat, offering a glimpse of his potential. It was in Atlanta’s 1996 Games that Khamsing shone, securing five victories and a coveted gold medal. In Sydney 2000, saw Somrak bringing both triumph and setbacks, with two victories and a loss. Finally, Athens 2004 marked the closing act, as Khamsing faced a defeat that marked the end of his Olympic journey.

Somrak Khamsing Boxer

National Hero

Somrak Khamsing’s gold medal victory resonated far beyond the boxing ring as he became a national hero in Thailand. Upon his triumphant return from Atlanta, Thailand embraced him as a symbol of nationwide pride. King Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej himself bestowed the honour upon Khamsing, welcoming him to the palace so that he could personally extend his congratulations on Somrak’s achievement.

With his fame, Somrak began a career as an actor and singer in Thailand. He took a starring role in more than a dozen movies one of which was alongside Jet Li. He even starred in the television series Khao Niao Thong Kham. His singing career saw him release an album in 2006.

Both Khamsing brothers, Somrot and Somrak, would be given ranks in the Thai military due to their important contributions between Muay Thai and Boxing.

Somrak Khamsing also took several more fights in Muay Thai as a celebrity. He would face notable fighters such as Jomhod Kiatadisak, Davit Kiria, Yodwanpadet Suwanwichit, and several others in the 2000s.

Somrak Khamsing Gym

Somrak Khamsing was not content with sitting back and enjoying the spoils of fame. He returned to his roots and opened a training facility called the Somrak Khamsing Gym in Bangkok, which is now named the Thor Thepsuthin Gym.

On his gym, the legendary fighter explained:

“I have around thirty fighters. Before Seanchai was with me, Jocky, tiny when he was 12 years I train already. Now he is gone. I have some good fighters as Ningmonkoon, Chairak and Hero. For the moment there are not too many foreigners who coming train with me but I’d like to become like the Fairtex Gym. Just one Dutch and one Spanish champion are trained here.”

Somrak Khamsing’s journey from a small Thai province to the global stage of the Olympics is a narrative that resonates with people from all walks of life. Somrak Khamsing stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through unwavering determination and an unbreakable spirit.

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