In recent years Boxrec.com, a totally brilliant website and key resource for all fight fans, took the bizarre decision to list Thai fighters by their birth names, and not the name they use to fight under. Whilst it may “make sense” it was actually a move that was highly disrespectful to the fighters and their culture, as well as massively confusing to fight fans who follow the Thai scene. Whilst for many Thai fighters it won't be a major issue that ever causes any confusion in the West, with many Thai's plying their trade solely in Asia, it has reared it's head this past weekend.
If you were looking at Boxrec.com to see who was fighting on the Gennady Golovkin Vs Daniels Jacobs under-card you'd have seen Roman Gonzalez Vs Wisaksil Wangek whilst if you looked at the official banners for the fight, or the posters you would have seen Roman Gonzalez Vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
If you follow the lower weights you will recognise the name “Srisaket Sor Rungvisai”. He's the former WBC Super Flyweight champion, who destroyed Yota Sato to win the title. He's the man who lost the belt in Mexico to Carlos Cuadras via a technical decision, and the man who dismantled Jose Salgado. If you type the name into youtube you will find a host of his professional contests dating back years, and you will see Thai channels listing him in English as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Those same fans are less likely to recognise the name “Wisaksil Wangek” which he simply doesn't use as a boxer. Boxrec.com use it and betting websites use it, but no where else used it, even Boxnation referred to him as “Sor Rungvisai”.
Since the fight at the weekend I've been asked by a name of people why the man in question changed his name. Originally he changed it to a fighting name, as Thai boxers and Muay Thai fighters typically do. It's a cultural thing where they often take a fighting name, and that of a sponsor or gym. That's the reason why we see so many Thai's with names like “Kokietgym”, “Kratingdaenggym” or “CP Freshmart”. Like wise in Muay Thai a fighter takes their gym name as a tribute to the gym that they belong.
Although a fighter isn't tied to a gym or a sponsor for their whole life, and can change it numerous times during their career, they don't tend to change the first part of their fighting name. Srisaket for example has fought pretty much all of his career as Srisaket. For a fighter with a very long career they may fighter under a list of “second names”. For example Sirimongkol, who actually uses his birth first name, has used “Singwancha”, "Singmanussak" and "Nakornthong Parkview" as sponsor names, whilst being born as Sirimongkol Iamthuam.
Whilst the changing of “second names” can make things confusing the general rule is to use a Thai's “first” name for identification purposes. There are very few cases where a professional fighter will have the same “first” name as another successful Thai.
As a result of the Thai's being “robbed” of their names we've not only seen the confusion over Srisaket but also things like Knockout CP Freshmart.
Knockout, the WBA Minimumweight champion, had gotten more attention than most Minimumweights in the West based just on his name. It was recognisable, slightly funny, and memorable. He's now lost some of that attention by being listed as Thammanoon Niyomtrong. Just as easy to remember, google, and research huh?
Whilst the arguments behind it from boxrec editors have ranged from “not wanting to give free advertising” to an issue with “ringers” and answers in regards to the frequency of Thai's changing their names and accuracy.
As we can see though the change by boxrec has lead to clear confusion, difficulty with research, inconsistencies, hasn't solved the issue of ringers (who have been known to use falsified passports anyway) and the reason behind the frequency of the name changes just isn't true.
If, the frequency issue was the main on the easy solution would be to put the most notable name as the fighters name, and then list the others as their aliases. Instead they have decided to list fighters by their first names, and only have their fighting names shown on their profile and in bouts notes, a strange move that causes more long term work for the editors anyway.
Whilst boxrec do list the fighters “fighting name” as their alias the same hasn't been done retroactively to either other retired Thai's or famous non-Thais. For example Khaosai Galaxy is still listed by his fighting name, whilst his birth name is included on his profile and Pone Kingpetch hasn't had his listed name reverted to Mana Seedokbuab. Likewise other fighters like Tommy Burns haven't been listed as Noah Brusso or Sugar Ray Robinson hasn't been listed as Walker Smith Jr.
It may seem like a minor gripe but the issue is that the change to using birth names, and not the recognised fighting names, of various Thai's is confusing, it doesn't lead to accuracy, it doesn't make sense and it doesn't recognise the culture of the fighters, where their names are a sign of respect. It was a strange move from boxrec and one that I really disagree with. It is their website, and it is a great tool for all fight fans, but this move was a very peculiar one, and one that seems very ill thought out.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces