Galaxy: Closing Matters the Thai Way

By Ted Sares on October 16, 2012
Galaxy: Closing Matters the Thai Way
Galaxy won the vacant WBA super bantamweight title by knocking out Eusebio Espinal.

Thailand features some great traditional boxing as well as Muay Thai fights where respect and discipline are always expected…

When Sugar Ray Leonard detected that his opponent was hurt, he was on the case faster than you can say “It’s over.” His starchings of Donny Lalonde, Andy “The Hawk” Price (who a few years earlier had beaten Pipino Cuevas), Dave “Boy” Green, and Bruce Finch were a testament to ring brutality. Some thought he had actually killed Green in the ring in 1980. Leonard belied his baby face as he was one of the most ruthless closers in boxing history. Yes, he was a great ring technician with super hand speed, but when he wanted to, he could crunch. Once he had his man hurt, he gave unique meaning to the word “closure.”

Three others who had a knack for ending matters decisively were Carlos Zarate, Wilfredo Gomez, and Pipino Cuevas. Their victims often paid dearly from the ferocity of their power. Broken noses, broken eye sockets, and broken jaws were not uncommon when these three finished their savage business.

These days Brandon Rios closes like a hungry zombie going after a weary victim. Wlad Klitschko is another who does it cleanly and neatly, while his brother does it the Marciano-way with less finesse but with equal menace. For sheer finality and drama, however, few could match the great Thai champion, Sura Saenkham who, following a Thai custom of adopting an attention-getting pseudonym became known as Khaosai Galaxy.

Thailand

I dearly loved Thailand, especially while I was on Rest and Recreation back in the day. It’s relaxed, safe, enjoyable and great fun and I loved everything about it (except the incredible traffic jams); I loved the food, the beach, the back country, the culture, the wonderful and friendly people, everything. And I loved the entire experience of watching boxing in Thailand.

First, and after checking into a hotel, I got a relaxing steam bath and rubdown to relieve the stress of the prior business day and, more often than not, a long flight. Then it was time for dinner, perhaps at the Savoy, in the somewhat notorious, albeit safe Patpong district with all of its vibrancy. Dinner frequently consisted of assorted and steamed Thai dumplings with a variety of heavenly sauces, spicy Vietnam noodle soup with pork and bean curd (known as Phro Noodles), large shrimp almost as big as a lobster, ice cold Thai beer and then some warm green bean rice pudding for dessert with creamy Thai iced tea.

After dinner, my friends and I would take a taxi to the Thai Boxing fights at Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. The nights were hot and steamy. Drums and a haunting reed instrument played in the background, as staccato cheers sounded every time a heavy punch landed. The experience was unique and surreal and can be seen as legendary crossover fighter Samart Payakaroon battles Boonlai.

Back to Galaxy

When Khaosai Galaxy hurt his foe, he moved in quickly for the kill and the crowd would go absolutely wild. In one fight I witnessed n 1990, I saw him ice Cobra Ari Blanca in the fifth round. I also saw him starch a Panamanian named Ernesto Ford in Petchaboon later that same year. After the fights, we would journey back to Khao San Road for more R and R and maybe catch a kick boxing match or two. In Bangkok (as in many other locales), boxing can be the linchpin that connects camaraderie and many other pleasant activities.

Aside from his loss to Sakda Sak Galaxy Saksuree (9-9) for the Thai bantamweight title in 1981, Galaxy never took part in what could be called a close fight. There is some controversy as to whether Galaxy avenged his one loss and it has not been clarified to either my knowledge or satisfaction.

When reigning WBA junior bantam king Jiro Watanabe failed to defend the title against Galaxy, the belt was declared vacant. On Nov. 21, 1984, Galaxy won the vacant WBA super bantamweight title by knocking out Eusebio Espinal in Bangkok. He would defend it successfully 18 times, the longest title reign in his division’s history, though it transpired mostly under the radar in the West. No other Asian boxer has defended a world title for so long.

Sometimes called “The Thai Tyson,” Galaxy possessed embalming fluid in his fists. With a staggering KO percentage of 86%, he had one-punch knockout power. In fact, he is listed Number 19 on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Like a spider paralyzing its prey with a sting, he could stun an opponent with a single punch, setting him up for the end. When this happened, his fists and arms would be held high ready to cut loose. As he got close, he would impose his tremendous physique and the frenzied crowd would be up and roaring. Galaxy became the very essence of a stalking predator, as he closed off the ring. Once he made contact, he quickly accomplished the kill with a variety of savage power shots thrown with uncanny accuracy and evil intent.

Khaosai was an equal opportunity bomber. He did his thing against Mexicans, Venezuelans, South Koreans, Colombians, Indonesians, Panamanians, Dominicans, Americans, fighters from the Philippines, warriors from Japan, and even Thais.

He won the WBA Boxer of the Year award both in 1989 and 1990. In 1999, he was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame where I had an opportunity to talk with him. When I mentioned I had seen him fight in Bangkok, his eyes lighted up and he was visibly moved. Like so many other great warriors, he was a delight to converse with and left me with warm memories.

Thailand’s greatest boxer retired with a record of 49-1 with 43 KOs and was acknowledged by many as the best 115-pounder in history as well as one of the greatest fighters from Asia. He remains an immensely popular figure in his native Thailand.

Khaokor

His twin brother, fighting under the name Khaokor Galaxy (24–2 with 18 KOs), won the WBA bantamweight title in 1998, making the two the only twins ever to be world boxing champions (at least to that point in time). He won the WBA bantamweight title from Wilfredo Vazquez in 1988, but lost it to rugged and imposing South Korean Sung-Kil Moon by technical decision when Moon was unable to continue after being cut by an accidental head butt. Moon was only 6-0 at the time. Galaxy won it back from the heavy-handed Moon two years later in Rajadamnern Stadium by a convincing decision as he decked Moon twice in the 11th stanza to seal the deal.

Khaokor lost his title by suffering a shocking and bizarre upset KO loss to Luisito Espinosa. Khaokor was caught with a left hook, and collapsed about 20 seconds later. Watching the tape indicates he may have been concussed thus causing him to collapse in a delayed and shocking manner. He never fought again.

In the end, Thailand was more than just a wonderful place that had a laid-back and convivial feel to it. Thailand also featured some great traditional boxing as well as Muay Thai fights where respect and discipline are always expected—two qualities that permeate throughout the country.

There were and are many other great Thai fighters who warrant attention and they will get it in future articles.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Khaosai Galaxy | Cobra Ari Blanca 1/2



Khaosai Galaxy | Cobra Ari Blanca 2/2



Khaosai Galaxy



Khaosai Hightlight



Khaosai Galaxy | Kenji Matsumuru II 1/5



Khaosai Galaxy | Kenji Matsumuru II 2/5



Khaosai Galaxy | Kenji Matsumuru II 3/5



Khaosai Galaxy | Kenji Matsumuru II 4/5



Khaosai Galaxy | Kenji Matsumuru II 5/5



Khaokor Galaxy | Wilfredo Vasquez 1/4



Khaokor Galaxy | Wilfredo Vasquez 2/4



Khaokor Galaxy | Wilfredo Vasquez 3/4



Khaokor Galaxy | Wilfredo Vasquez 4/4



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  1. the thresher 03:22pm, 10/18/2012

    Irish has the beat

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 09:28am, 10/18/2012

    Ted Sares-Dang! “shrimp almost as big as a lobster”....washed down with “ice cold Thai beer”, I bet it was Singha… “rub down” but no mention of that hot, tight Thai….oops! Anyhooo….from the photo above Galaxy has got to be the most powerfully built banty ever!

  3. pete 04:06pm, 10/17/2012

    Great photo of Galaxy and Espinal at the top of the article. Good article, too!

  4. mike schmidt 07:42am, 10/17/2012

    PS Pug- an exceptionally thick boned dude with hands the size of a Heavyweight. Adios for now.

  5. the thresher 06:15am, 10/17/2012

    He gained a lot of weight like most boxers and other pro athelets do when they retire but then he got himself back in good shape.

  6. mike schmidt 01:52am, 10/17/2012

    Pug, I met him in Panama last year—got some pictures together—he looks terrific—very friendly and gracious guy

  7. pugknows 08:10pm, 10/16/2012

    Another gem, Ted. Did Galaxy gain a lot of weight after he retired?

  8. the thresher 06:34pm, 10/16/2012

    It was 4.6

  9. the thresher 03:55pm, 10/16/2012

    Just felt a slight earthquake. WTF—In New Hampshire!?

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