Petpanomrung on the long path to kickboxing glory
Petpanomrung reached the pinnacle of the sport of Muay Thai at a very early age. He was 16 when he won the Thailand 118lbs title and went on to claim the Thailand 130lbs title, win a 140lbs Toyota Marathon tournament and a WMC 135lbs title all before the age of 21.
As a teenager he fought and beat some of the biggest names in the sport like Thongchai Sitsongpeenong, Sam-A Gaiyanghadaogym, Saeksan Or Kwanmuang and Phetmorakot Wor Sangprapai. Petpanomrung was already an established star on the stadium scene at this stage but the young man’s career would take a fascinating twist when he was offered the opportunity to compete internationally in kickboxing.
It represented a step into the unknown for a fighter who had been training and competing in Muay Thai since the age of eight. A contract with Glory would mean fighting in strange countries under unfamiliar rules but Petpanomrung did not require any persuasion,
“Glory were looking for fighters to add to their roster and Timothy the owner of Sitsongpeenong and manager of Sittichai approached me, seeing if I was interested. I really wanted to give it a try,” he said.
In 2016 he made his kickboxing debut and scored a lopsided decision win over Stanislav Renita at Glory 35. Petpanomrung had to make some adjustments for this fight but at least the weather in Nice was to his liking.
“I worked a lot more boxing in my padwork and dropped off the amount of clinch and knee work. I was very nervous beforehand as had never fought outside of Thailand and under these rules, but I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t particularly cold when we went so it wasn’t too difficult to make weight.”
An early start
Petpanomrung comes from a fighting family. He took his first fight at the age of 8 and says becoming a fighter just felt like the natural thing to do.
“My father was a fighter along with three of my older brothers so Muay Thai was in my blood. I was 8 years old when I had my first fight. I was very nervous before, but didn’t really get hurt at all. I lost on points.”
While Petpanomrung has already achieved far more than his father did as a fighter he still has a little way to go if he wants to overtake the most successful of his siblings.
“My father only really fought on local events, not in the Bangkok stadiums, (but) my oldest brother Panomrunglek Kiatmoo9 was very famous, a multiple time Lumpini champion and former Isuzu Cup tournament winner and also had a successful professional boxing career.”
It’s difficult to compare the value of titles from across the stand up fighting spectrum. But the crowning achievement of Petpanomrung’s career probably came in September when he beat Robin Van Roosmalen at Glory 59 in Amsterdam to capture the promotion’s featherweight title.
The first fight had also taken place in Van Roosmalen’s homeland of Holland and ended in a controversial split decision win for the Dutchman. But instead of sulking about the decision, Petpanomrung decided to make the type of improvements that would ensure the judges saw things his way second time around.
“To be honest I thought I did enough to get the win, but I always respect the decisions of the judges and take each loss as a lesson. Afterwards I studied a lot of his fights and worked more in training on boxing combinations and also using the low kick a lot more.”
When Petpanomrung made his Glory debut he attacked almost exclusively with body kicks. It’s the type of strategy that is guaranteed to bring success in the Bangkok stadiums but isn’t so effective when a fight is scored under kickboxing rules.
This has all been part of the learning curve for Petpanomrung who finds it refreshing to know that the judges are much less likely to be influenced by factors like the crowd.
“Glory tend to score more on what technique you use, whereas Muay Thai nowadays has lots of things that influence the scoring such as the gambling odds.”
Having captured the title in his latest bout Petpanomrung has the kickboxing world at his feet. He would still be a big draw on the Muay Thai circuit back home but has no plans to resurrect his career at Lumpinee or Rajadamnern.
“No I don’t think so. I enjoy fighting overseas, there is no pressure from the gamblers like in Thailand and the money is good. I find it hard to understand sometimes in the stadiums now when the results are announced and also at my level it is difficult now for me to find opponents.”
The 23-year-old certainly has youth on his side. Having avenged the only loss of his nascent kickboxing career Petchpanomrung is confident about what the future holds.
“I have had eight fights now and only one loss. I just want to defend my title as many times as I can and see what happens from there.”