Rungkit Morbestkamala is another young Thai fighter getting his chance to shine on the Rise World Series show on Sunday at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo.

Rungkit got his opportunity after Rodtang Jitmuangnon was forced to pull out of the 58kgs tournament due to commitments with ONE Championship and he jumped at the chance,

“This is my first ever fight outside Thailand and I am grateful to get the opportunity, I would love to fight more abroad, anywhere I can. I know I have to put on a very strong showing in this tournament and hopefully it will bring me more opportunities to fight overseas in the future,” he said.

Rungkit started out in the sport like most top Thai fighters at a very young age, having his first fight at the age of 7. He saw some of his friends fight in his home province of Ranong and wanted to try for himself.

Rungkit vs Suakim 3

Rob Cox

Extensive experience

He got a matched on a local show  in Southern Thailand and enjoyed the experience, earning 500 baht for his first fight. At the age of 10 Rungkit started to take the sport more seriously and was introduced to the Yotharak Muay Thai gym in Phuket where he has been based ever since.

With around 200 fights already in his career, Rungkit has won the Thailand 118lbs belt, and won the True 4 U and CP Freshmart 120 lbs tournaments. He is the current Rajadamnern 130lbs champion and, having amassed so many titles already, it is hard to believe he is still only 17 years of age.

“I want to win as many titles as possible in Thailand from every stadium, I still haven’t won a Lumpinee title yet. I am in the running for this years Siam Sport boxer of the year award and the Sports Writers of Thailand boxer of the year award and would love to win both of those awards,” he said.

Rungkit vs Suakim 2

International opportunity

To be in contention for these awards in Thailand fighters need to be at the absolute peak of their powers, beating elite opponents at least six or seven times a year. Rungkit is clearly one of the best in the business and should be too good for Fred Cordeiro, whom he faces on Sunday.

The draw has been kind for Rungkit who cannot face Suakim Sitsortortaew or Tenshin Nasukawa until the final. He feels he will be too experienced for the Brazilian,

“I don’t really know anything about my opponent in the first fight, but I am not too worried. I don’t think he will be as strong as anyone I have faced in the stadiums. I know Tenshin will be the favourite as he is the number one at this weight in Japan. I have already fought Suakim twice before with one win each. I think it will be easier to fight him in this tournament as it is only three rounds and he won’t be able to clinch as much.”

Rungkit has already adapted his training regime to prepare for the different ruleset in Rise World Series.

“We are not allowed to elbow so I haven’t been using them in training, with my workouts I have been focusing a lot more on boxing and kicks and I have not clinched as much as I would for a fight in Thailand, but have been working more strength and conditioning and also running a lot.”

Rungkit vs Suakim

New generation

Buakaw Por Pramuk and Yodsaenklai Fairtex blazed a trail for Thai fighters finding fame and fortune overseas. There is a new generation making a name for themselves with Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and Nong-O Gaiyanghadao both winning ONE Super Series titles recently.

It is the latter whose achievements Rungkit wants to emulate as he has been following Nong-O’s career for years,

“My favourite fighter and idol when I was coming up in the sport is Nong-O Gaiyanghaadao. I love his technical style and he is now also a very big name fighting overseas.”

Rungkit is arguably the best pound for pound fighter currently competing at the Bangkok stadiums and could be on course to face the most famous kickboxer in the world right now in the Rise World Series tournament final. He has the world at his feet and the teenager says he is only just getting started,

“I am still only 17 and feel I can go on for a long time. I have a lot of years ahead of me in the sport.”