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Imagine you’re a combat sports athlete. You train day in and day out to become the best, the sharpest, and the most accurate version of yourself you can be. Now imagine you’ve fought professionally over 200 times spanning 34 years. That’s over five fights a year if you weren’t keeping score. What I’ve just described is the career of a Thai boxer. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to one, the legendary Lerdsila. He is a three time Rajadamnern stadium champion as well as a multiple time World Champion. His career has been storied in depth. Today, I hope to shine even more light on a legendary career that isn’t complete yet.
Lerdsila and Muay Thai
Stadium champions are the end all, be all in Muay Thai and specifically Lumpinee and Rajadamnern. Lerdsila has won the stadium title three times in three weight classes: 52, 55, and 56 kilograms. Thai boxers, Lerdsila included, put themselves through punishment time and time again for the entertainment of fans, glory, and prize money.
“I fight Muay Thai because I love Muay Thai. I like to fight and I want make money from the fight for support my family and support myself.”
It’s not uncommon for a Thai boxer to begin to fighting at an incredibly young age. Lerdsila is no different. Now 41, he’s fought for over 30 years and has more to go.
“I started fighting at 7 years old until now. I’m 41 years old so I’ve fought a total of 34 years in my life and I think I can fight two or three more years.”
One thing I like to stress about these athletes is how they are still normal people. Despite the warrior mentality, the popularity, and all that, Lerdsila is still a person who has fun times outside the ring.
“I like to play soccer and I like listen to music. I like singing karaoke.”
A Storied Career
Throughout 200 fights, Lerdsila has done a lot. The Thai champion has learned to live in the moment when he fights and enjoy every fight for what it is.
“Every fight and every promotion is my favorite fight. Win or lose, I’m not too serious about it but I’m just happy when I fight and am done. I respect all of my opponents for every fight.”
Through all the fights, from Anuwat to the most recent win in ONE Championship against Savvas Michael, Lerdsila says that above all, it’s about the respect to his opponents. He reiterates, “Every fight I really respect all of the opponents.”
Circling back, Lerdsila has a few years left of fighting. But, that doesn’t mean he is exiting the sport of Muay Thai. “I’m planning to open the gym myself and fight until I can’t fight.”
With Muay Thai being a progressively more international, Lerdsila welcomes everyone to the sport he loves. He reminds any newcomers to remember what Muay Thai is about.
“Anyone is welcome to learn and train Muay Thai. The first and most important things: you must love Muay Thai and respect each other.”
That is the respect that is instilled not only in Muay Thai, but is the essence of all forms of martial arts around the world.