SPORT NEWS 33:
BOXING IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
RON SIMPSON, English editor of Billionmore’s stories of sport in Thailand, writes about a story he has half-remembered for over 50 years.
I was a young fan of boxing in the 1950s. I can remember many stories: Randy Turpin defeating the great Sugar Ray Robinson for the World middleweight crown, then losing the return 64 days later; the commentary at about 4 o’clock in the morning when Rocky Marciano crushed Britain’s Don Cockell; the awful news (which left me in floods of tears) that my great hero, the Welsh flyweight Dai Dower, the most brilliant and stylish boxer in the world, I thought, had been humiliated, knocked out by almost the first two punches thrown by the World flyweight Champion, Pascual Perez.
But there is only one newspaper article (and picture-spread) that I can still visualize. I think it was from Ring magazine and it was certainly the first time that I’d heard of Thai boxing – which I think they wrongly called “kick boxing”. Jimmy Carruthers, the Australian who was World bantamweight Champion, had gone to Bangkok to defend his title against a Thai, a former kickboxer. It was an open-air contest and a torrential rainstorm made it impossible for the boxers to stand up, so they took off their boxing boots and fought barefoot – which the challenger was used to in Muay Thai, of course.
I remember seeing photographs of very wet boxers in bare feet sliding around the ring and thinking it looked like fun. I remember the article said that Jimmy Carruthers, who had a number of knockout victories on his record, boxed “cagily” (carefully, taking no chances) and retained his title. Most oddly, I remember liking a phrase in the article, a phrase I’d never seen before: “nip and tuck”, meaning neck and neck, first one boxer just ahead, then the other, no one dominating.
What I don’t remember is anything about the Thai boxer, so I asked Billionmore to find out.
A researcher of Billionmore takes up the story.
Chamroen Songkitrat or police captain Samroeng SrimaDee was born in Nakhon Phanom province. He was the first Thai boxer to be a champion of The Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF).
Chamroen practised Muay Thai with Kru Chamlong RattanaKantong who was a Muay Thai expert. When he was 13 years old, he fought around Nakhon Phanom. Then he went to Bangkok to study and practised boxing at Narue Phai’s camp. After that he relocated to Songkitrat’s camp and took the name “Chamroen Songkitrat”. Chamroen graduated from college in Physical Education and became a Physical Education teacher at the Royal Police Cadet Academy.
Chamroen took up international boxing and competed for the OPBF featherweight championship against Larry Bataan of the Philippines. Chamroen was defeated on points in the Philippines. However, police colonel Phao Sriyanond supported Chamroen who competed for the OPBF title again, this time at lightweight. Chamroen made history as the first Thai OPBF champion. He beat Speedy Cabanella, the Philippine boxer, on points on October 13th, C.E. 1952.
After one defence Chamroen relinquished his title. He changed to fighting at bantamweight and competed for the World Championship with Jimmy Carruthers. Chamroen was defeated on points. However, this fight was very amazing because it was the first time in international boxing that the boxers were barefoot. There had been heavy rain during the day and the fight was terminated in the 12th round because the neon lights on the ring had broken.
Carruthers relinquished his title after defending the championship against Chamroen. So Chamroen challenged for the World title again against Robert Cohen on September 19th, C.E. 1954, in Bangkok. Chamroen was defeated on points by Cohen. However, Cohen refused to defend his title against Raul Macias, so the National Boxing Association staged a World Championship bout between Chamroen and Macias in the United States. Chamroen was knocked out in the 11th round and after this fight he quit boxing.
Chamroen died on August 29th, C.E. 2003; he was 77 years old.