The Remarkable Mastery of Apidej Sit-Hirun
Apidej Sit-Hirun helped pave the way for the boom in Muay Thai and the Golden Era that followed his time as the undisputed king of the ring.
Before Muay Thai gained recognition abroad, before the Golden Era, one man made his indelible mark on the sport. Apidej Sit-Hirun is a legendary name, in the sport. Loved by everyone from commoner to royalty, Apidej was named Fighter of the Century by His Royal Highness King Rama IX.
Born in Samut Songkhram, near Bangkok in 1941, Apidej Sit-Hirun’s real name was Narong Yaenprateep. His family was poor, so, unbeknownst to them, he began to train to be a boxer to help them financially. Apidej liked to fight with other children, so when his friends began competing in the ring, he wanted to as well.He took his first fight under the name Narong-Dej.His step-father found out and went to pull him out of the fight. The crowd begged him to let the boy continue.After knocking out his opponent in the second round, Apidej’s step-father realised the boy’s potential.
After gaining a serious reputation on the provincial circuit, Apidej moved to Bangkok and joined the Sit-Hirun camp under the tutelage of Kru Suporn Wongsaroj. Fighting as Apidej Sit-Hirun, his career in the capital started with an incredible display against Danchai Yontrakit at Lumpinee Stadium in June 1961. Known as a devastating kicker, Apidej’s kicks on Danchai’s body were heard around the stadium. The fight made the young fighter an overnight sensation and earned him the nickname “Golden Leg”.
The welterweight fought the best of his era like Adul Sri-Sorthorn, Dejrit Ittianuchit and Kongdej Lookbangplasoi. Apidej reigned supreme in the 1960s. Renowned for his unbeatable 3-step-quick kick (high, middle and low), his reputation as the “hardest kicker in history” came after he fought Sompong Charoenmuang in February 1963. Apidej ended Sompong’s career after breaking both of his arms with his powerful round kicks.
Aside from his Muay Thai career, much like Samart, he was an accomplished pro boxer, becoming the Southeast Asia Welterweight aged 22. Holding the Thailand 145lb welterweight Muay Thai title for 10 years, and both the Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium titles, Apidej Sit -Hirun held seven titles concurrently. From 1961 to 1972 he built a record of 350 wins, 10 losses and 1 draw.
In the 1980s Apidej became senior trainer at Fairtex Gym, where he trained a new generation of fighters. Known for his friendly nature and focus on mastering footwork, he was a favourite of Thais and foreigners alike. As well as being awarded the “Fighter of the Century” award for the 20th century, Apidej was given his own display at the Thai National Museum, the only fighter to have received such an honour. After battling lung cancer, Apidej passed away aged 72 in 2013.
“The man of seven titles”, “Fighter of the Century”, “Golden Leg”, Apidej Sit-Hirun will always be remembered as the hardest kicker and greatest fighter in the history of Muay Thai.