Name: Sombat Banchamek
AKA: Buakaw Banchamek
Camp: Banchamek Gym
Date of Birth: 8 May 1982
Height: 174 cms
Weight: 69,5 Kg
Management: Banchamek Gym
Born in the rural northeast of Thailand, Sombat Banchamek is more commonly known as Buakaw Banchamek, the White Lotus. Thailand’s most famous muay thai boxer began, like many of his peers, at the age of 8 fighting in his home province of Surin. The small fights would lead to a long career at Por. Pramuk gym in Chachoengsao gym 50 km east of Bangkok in central Thailand.
His stint at Por Pramuk gym, which started in 1997, saw him collect several belts and championships. His first was the featherweight title at Omnoi Stadium, a well regarded stadium west of Bangkok. Buakaw would later take the lightweight belt at Omnoi as well and then in late 2002 he won the highly-regarded Toyota Marathon at 140lbs which was held at Lumpini Stadium. He currently holds a record of 229 wins, 23 losses and 12 draws and stands at 174cm. As of this writing he is 34 years old having been born May 8, 1982.
Buakaw made a transformative decision when he entered the Japanese fighting promotion K-1 Max in 2004. The yearly show was composed of 8 man tournaments under kickboxing rules. Upon entry fighters like Buakaw could clinch with their opponents and knee but that rule was done away with, arguably after Buakaw’s success in the first year. Each bout under K1 rules was composed of three three minute rounds with an additional fourth round held if the fight was declared a draw. Buakaw was able to seize the victory of the tournament in 2004 beating out Australian veteran John Wayne Parr and the Japanese favorite Masato Kobayashi. The following tournament, held the same year, saw Buakaw lose a close decision to the tough Andy Souwer out of the Netherlands. The Thai fighter was able to get his redemption in 2006 when he TKO’d Souwer with a flurry of punches and gained the K-1 Max belt for a second time. The subsequent year Buakaw would lose to Masato in a controversial decision that saw the referee deduct a point from him for allegedly slipping. After what he considered an inappropriate call Buakaw no longer participated in the tournament.
The marketing of K-1 and its promotion on the international stage saw Buakaw become a household name in his home country and abroad. He was catapulted into stardom and soon starred in regular TV adverts and was a leading man in Yamada: The Samurai of Ayothaya. He was filmed along with several other internationally recognized muay thai fighters such as Yodsanklai Fairtex, Anuwat Kaewsamrit, and Saenchai PK Saenchaigym. Several years later he would appear in Thongdee Fun Khao, a film about a warrior in the King Taksin era of Thailand.
After his days with K-1 Buakaw continued fighting and in 2010 became the Shoot Boxing S-Cup Champion. He also participated in Max Muay Thai fights and in 2012 and 2011 was the Thai Fight Tournament Champion.
As a fighter Buakaw is well known for his crisp boxing and lightning quick left kick. Able to fire out the lead leg with both precision and speed Buakaw was able to dominate against slower opponents. His time in K-1 also saw him hone his boxing skills as boxers were unable to clinch for extended periods of time under the ruleset. The ruleset forced him to focus on hand competitions and speed.
In March of 2012 Buakaw publically appeared on a Thai TV talk show to explain his unhappiness with his current management at Por. Pramuk gym. He felt he’d been underpaid by the gym and announced that he was leaving the gym. The Por. Pramuk gym still had him under contract and prevented him from fighting at Thai Fight in April of 2012. Buakaw was forced to lodge an official complaint against the gym and was eventually able to free himself from the contract.
Since his departure from Por. Pramuk, Buakaw, in conjunction with Yokkao Boxing, created a gym of his own, Banchamek. The gym currently has two locations, one in Bangkok and a second in Buakaw’s hometown of Surin.
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