The Emperor Namsaknoi
Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn reigned supreme as “The Emperor” at the tail end of the Golden Era and beyond. The master technician made very little money with his career fighting for Por Pramuk, as he was exploited by the money-hungry.He never had the international recognition that his stablemate Buakaw had, but things could have turned out very differently, as he was the original pick for the K-1 World MAX tournament. Injury on that occasion led to Buakaw going in his place.
Born in 1979 in Chaiya, Surat Thani in Southern Thailand, Muhammud Chaiyamart, later to be called Namsaknoi, started training aged 8, fighting for the first time after only a few months. He had 50 fights in his home province for both Pon Pichit and Sit Kru Pan gyms before moving to Kiatsingnoi Gym in Bangkok aged 13, where he trained alongside future legend Trainer Gae. He stayed there of five years, before moving on to Por Pramuk.
Fighting mostly at Lumpinee, Namsaknoi won his Stadium Champion title at 112lbs by beating Neungpichit Sityodtong in 1995 aged just 16. The following year, the young prodigy was Fighter of the Year and WMC World Champion. In 1999 he beat Lamnamoon Sor Sumalee to take the 130lb Lumpinee title, before beating Kaolan Kaovichit in 2000 for the 135lb title which he held until 2006. He defended his title against all comers, such as Noppadet Songsimaigym, Nontachai Sit O and Samranchai 96 Peenang. In 2010, he took on Diego Calzolari at 154lbs for his final fight. He beat the Italian, taking the WAKO World Muay Thai title.
His tricky Muay Femur (technical fighter) style was the secret to his success, as was his ability to switch to a Muay Khao (knee fighter) style when facing a fellow Femur. From 300 fights, Namsaknoi won 280, last 15 and drew 5, one of the highest winning percentages in history. He is one of the few fighters to beat Saenchai, and fought the best of his era, including Attachai Fairtex, Thongchai Tor Silachai, Naruepol Fairtex, Kotchasarn Singklongsi and Pajonsuk SuperPro Samui. He famously fought Samkor Kiatmontep five times, winning twice and drawing once, to tie the series.
Retiring from the ring with little in savings due to mismanagement of his winnings by Por Pramuk, Namsaknoi started coaching at Evolve in Singapore. He saved enough to start his own gym in Samui in 2016. The gym ultimately didn’t make enough money, so it closed down and Namsaknoi returned to Evolve.