When the news of the tragic death of Sangtiennoi (Thiraphan Chinanad) hit me on Sunday morning as soon as I woke up, I must admit that I felt in disbelief for a fair few minutes.
Just the day before his father-in-law, another notable name in Muay Thai community, passed away and Sangtiennoi posted this photo with him.
A giant of muay Thai has then gone, one of the very few people I did not hesitate to address as Kru and whom I respected both from a professional and a human point of view. Especially today, in a muay Thai environment increasingly poisoned by braggart, mythomaniacs, and online dream sellers, Sangtiennoi was a real person with an impressive career on both sides of the ropes.
During his Nak Muay career spanning for over 2 decades in the so-called “Golden Era”, and ended due to a shoulder injury, he was one of the highest-paid Nak Muay in big stadiums fighting often also abroad.
Sangtiennoi Sor. Rungroj was nicknamed “The Deadly Kisser”, because he used to kiss his opponents before facing them, as can be seen in this photo with Tertgiat Sittepitak, at Lumpinee in 1992.
We remember his challenges with Chamuakpetch, Cherry, Nokweed, and against many farang legends. He most notably challenged Ramon Dekker, beaten twice in 1991 in Tokyo and Bangkok before losing in Holland, and faced Dany Bill twice at King’s Birthday event scoring a win(1995) and a loss(1997).
As Kru Muay, he was one of the few (they can actually be counted on the fingertips of one hand) to leave indelible imprints both in the formation of Nak Muay (Thanonchai, Chorfah, Kongchai and his son Moses) and Nak Muay farang (John ‘Wayne’ Parr , Sammon ‘Dekker’, Chad Collins and most recently Tyson). The Italian public would likely remember his son, Moses Tor. Sangtiennoi, fighting at Oktagon in 2013, beating by TKO round 2 Mustapha Haida.
For anyone who would like, I added the link to join a subscription to support the expenses for his funeral, being his family already burdened by the loss of his wife’s father, to whom Sangtiennoi was very attached.