Buakaw Banchamek: The Muay Thai Legend

Buakaw Banchamek

When you think about the greatest Thai boxers of all, one name is always on the list. Buakaw Banchamek

Buakaw Banchamek was born Sombat Banchamek. He grew up in the province of Surin, located in northeastern Thailand.

Name:Buakaw Banchamek
Date of Birth:May 8, 1982
Place of Birth:Ban Song Nong County, Samrong Thap, Surin, Thailand
Nicknames:The White Lotus, Black Gold
Gym:Por. Pramuk Gym(1997-2012), Banchamek Gym(2012 to Present)
Years Active:1997 to Present Day
Height:1.74 m (5 ft 8+12 in)
Weight:71.5 kg (158 lb; 11.26 st)
Weight Classes:Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight
Championships:20+ World Championships 

This is the story of one of the biggest legends in the history of Muay Thai in Buakaw Banchamek. Detailing Buakaw’s legendary 35-year fighting career and how he stays among the sport’s best fighters.

Buakaw’s Entry Into Muay Thai

At the age of eight, Sombat was exposed to Muay Thai and began his training. His fighting career would begin soon after Banchamek had started his training.

Throughout the next 7 years, he would fight throughout northeastern Thailand and the province of Surin. Gaining experience in numerous undocumented fights and making money for his family.


Early Muay Thai Career

At the age of 15, Sombat moved to the city of Chachoengsao in central Thailand. Joining the legendary Por. Pramuk Gym.

As a part of a big gym with connections, Damtamin Kiat-anan, as he was initially called, would get big opportunities. 

Beginning the start of his pro career fighting in Bangkok in Omnoi and Lumpinee Stadium. Collecting numerous belts and fighting in the nation’s biggest tournaments.

This included winning the Toyota Marathon 140 lbs tournament in 2002. Buakaw’s impressive performances began to earn him international recognition.

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K-1 Career 

After seven years of winning numerous belts in Bangkok, Buakaw would get his first big international opportunity. He would earn a spot in the 2004 K-1 World Max Tournament.

His debut would be successful as he beat three opponents in one night to win the title. This included beating John Wayne Parr and Takayuki Kohiruimaki in the finals.

In the 2005 tournament, Banchameet would earn runner-up before winning again in 2006. Establishing himself as one of the most decorated champions in the sport.

He would have numerous big fights on the promotion for the next eight years. Including participating in every L-1 Max Tournament during that time.

Thai Fight 

In 2011, Buakaw signed a big contract to fight for the fight promotion Thai fight. He would fight 11 times for the promotion over the next two years.

Buakaw’s first year with Thai was successful as he won the promotion’s 70 kg tournament. This title win would follow, with Banchamek defending his title in 2012. Going a perfect 11-0 in Thai Fight.

Leaving Por. Pramut Gym

In 2012, news broke of friction between Buakaw and his longtime gym in Por. Pramut Gym. It was first apparent when Banchamek was absent from training for two months.

He apologized to the public on a Thai talk show and cited problems with Por Pramut Gym’s management. Claiming that problems with management had been ongoing since 2009, including abuse and unprofessional behavior.

This would lead the Thai boxing champion to open his own gym in 2012 called Banchamek Gym. A world-class facility where Buakaw has made his home base for the last eleven years.

Buakaw’s Career During The 2010s & Retirement 

After setting up in his home gym, Buakaw would venture out on his own. Fighting in various promotions around the world from 2012 to 2019.

Everywhere from returning for his last run in K-1, fighting in Thailand again, and also bouts in China. At his last K-1 appearance, Banchameet would earn his second runner-up award in the Max tournament.

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Then from 2017 to 2019, Buakaw would fight in Kunlan and various supershows around Thailand. After this run, he would go on a three-year hiatus from competing, where many thought the legend was retired.

Buakaw’s Comeback 

Buakaw would end his three-year hiatus in 2022 by making his return at World Fight Tournament in Cambodia. Defeating Dmitry Varats by unanimous decision.

He would also participate in various exhibition matches that were held at Rajadamnern Stadium. His real match would be against Japanese kickboxing veteran Yoshiro Sato.

A match that was scheduled to happen in 2008 in the K-1 tournament but never happened. When they finally met, Buakaw would win with a first-round KO.

His last kickboxing match took place on May 6, 2023 on the Rizin 42 card in Tokyo, Japan. Fighting to a draw against Japanese fighter Rukiya Anpo.

Putting his current record at 240 wins/24 losses/14 draws.


Buakaw Enters Bare Knuckle Boxing 

If making a comeback into Muay Thai and kickboxing wasn’t enough, he would also transition to another sport. Signing a contract to fight with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

At 40 years old, Banchamek would make his BKFC debut on the BKFC: Thailand 3 event as the headliner. Defeating Erkan Varol by first-round knockout.

In 2023, it was announced that Buakaw would face Muay Thai legend Saenchai in a bare-knuckle Muay Thai match. But it was postponed due to legal issues over the use of the word Muay Thai in the event name.

Buakaw’s Titles Won

In a career that spans over 30 years, Buakaw has won numerous titles in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Here’s a current count of the world titles that Banchameet has won.

K-1 Kickboxing

  • 2004 K-1 Max World Champion
  • 2006 K-1 Max World Champion

Omnoi Stadium

  • 2001 Omnoi Stadium Featherweight Champion
  • 2002 Omnoi Stadium Lightweight Champion

Professional Boxing Association of Thailand

  • 2001 Thailand (PAT) Featherweight Champion
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Toyota Cup

  • 2002 Toyota Cup Marathon 140 lb Champion

World Muay Thai Council

  • 2006-2007 WMC Muay Thai Super Welterweight World Champion
  • 2009 WMC/MAD Muay Thai Super Welterweight World Champion
  • 2011 WMC Muaythai Junior Middleweight World Champion
  • 2014-2015 WMC Muay Thai Junior Middleweight World Champion

WBC Muay Thai

  • 2014 WBC Muay Thai Diamond World Champion

Thai Fight

  • 2011 70 kg Tournament Champion
  • 2012 70 kg Tournament Champion

S-1 Muay Thai

  • 2005 S-1 Super Welterweight World Champion

Muay Thai Association

  • 2005 MTA Champion

Kunlun Fight

  • 2016 Kunlun Fight Muay Thai Middleweight World Champion

Phoenix Fighting  Championship

  • 2016 PFC  Junior Middleweight Champion

King of Martial Arts

  • 2003 KOMA GP Lightweight Champion

Shoot Boxing

  • 2010 Shoot Boxing S-Cup World Champion

Buakaw’s Style of Muay Thai 

If you were to assemble the proto-typical Muay Thai fighter, that would be Buakaw. Banchamet is the living embodiment of Muay Thai.

He’s a well-rounded fighter that’s an expert in every facet of the sport—possessing KO power in both his hands and feet and sharp defense.

Being sharp in every aspect of the sport made Buakaw one of the toughest in the sport to face. In nearly 280 fights, Banchameet has only been defeated 24 times.

Buakaw’s Legendary Training Routines 

Buakaw is one of the most prolific fighters in the history of Muay Thai. After 30+ years in the sport, he continues to stay one of the best Thai boxers in the world.

The secret to Buakaw’s longevity is his legendary training routines. Banchameet’s discipline in his training is the secret to his ability to continue fighting into his 40s.

He is one of the most conditioned fighters on the planet. Putting himself through grueling workouts literally every day. Spending hours doing bag work, pad work, and especially strength and conditioning.

Buakaw’s discipline to keep training and learning is the key to his success and longevity. This dedication is why many review him as a legend in the sport.

The Legacy of Buakaw

Buakaw Banchameet is one of the greatest fighters in Muay Thai history and a legend of the sport. For over thirty years and into his forties, Banchameet continues to beat the world’s best and shows no sign of stopping.

He is already a legend and is remarkably still adding to his impeccable fighting career.