One of the most requested fighters for this series has been Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. The Thai great is a legitimate modern day legend and his control of the WBC Flyweight title at the turn of the 21st century is something we doubt we'll see again any time soon.
Sadly away from boxing it's hard to find much about many Thai's, like Wonjongkam, though given the requests we have tried to come up with some interesting details about the Thai great as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
1-Wonjongkam's parents owned a garage, and he actually worked there occasionally as a child.
2-Prior to turning his hand to boxing Wonjongkam had fought in Muay Thai. From his Muay Thai career he reportedly ran up a 28-13-1 record, though proved to be a better puncher and promoters noted his punching power, and recommended that he should try boxing.
3-Between December 1994 and July 2007 Wonjongkam lost only 2 of his first 67 fights, as he compiled an excellent 65-2 (33) record. Both of those losses came to Filipino Jerry Pahayahay, who became the first man to beat Wonjongkam, in 1995, and the first to stop him, in 1996. Interestingly a third meeting, in 1998, saw Wonjongkam finally notch a win over Pahayahay.
4-Wonjongkam was the 30th Thai to win a world a world title, doing so when he beat Malcolm Tunacao in 2001.
5- Wonjongkam still holds the record for the shortest world title bout in the division's history, a 34 second win over Daisuke Naito. Interestingly that was the first time the title had been defended inside a round, with the 3 previous opening round victories all seeing the title change hands....including Wonjongkam's own title win over Malcolm Tunacao.
As an aside Interestingly Wonjongkam's technical draw with Hirofumi Mukai, at 47 seconds, was the second time the WBC Flyweight title had been defended in the opening round and is, at the time of writing, the only time a Japanese fighter has avoided a defeat in a world title bout in Thailand.
6--Wonjongkam's lengthy reign as the WBC Flyweight champion wasn't just notable for the length of reign, which was 17 defenses a divisional record, but also the men he beat. In his first reign defended the title against Luis Alberto Lazarte, Daisuke Naito, Gilberto Keb Baas and Tomobu Shimizu before reclaiming the title and beating Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, giving him wins over 5 men who would later win world titles! When we then then add in former or the reigning world champions, Malcolm Tunacao, Julio Cesar Miranda, Koki Kameda and Edgar Sosa we do spot just how impressive Wonjongkam's career was, going 10-2-1 (4) against men who held world titles.
7-Through his entire 98 pro fight career there was only 2 men Wonjongkam didn't manage to beat, and strangely he faced them in back to back fights. The first of those was Hirofumi Mukai, who he had a technical draw with in December 2011, and the second was Sonny Boy Jaro, who he lost to in March 2012. That means Jaro is the only man to hold a win over Wonjongkam and never suffer a loss to the Thai.
8-Wonjongkam's biggest purse came in 2010, when he faced Koki Kameda in Japan, The bout saw Wonjongkam, at the age of 32, roll back the clock and outpoint the 23 year old Kameda, who was 22-0 (14) at the time. He was paid around $300,000 for the fight.
9-Following his retirement Wonjongkam has worked as a trainer at Evolve MMA in Singapore, but is now back in Thailand and has helped train Knockout CP Freshmart, alongside Chatchai Sasakul.
10-In 2018 Wonjongkam returned for an exhibition-style bout with Koki Kameda at the Korakuen Hall. The bout was regarded as an unofficial 6 round Bantamweight clash by the JBC, and saw Kameda stopping Wonjongkam in the second round.
Extra Fact 1 - As of 2015 Wonjongkam was living with his wife, and had no children
Extra Fact 2 - Wonjongkam was regarded as the WBC Boxer of the Deace for the 00's
Extra fact 3 - It was reported that Wonjongkam was paid almost ฿1000000 for his rematch bout with Koki Kameda
The second in our "Top 5 Wins" features looks at another modern icon, as we look at Thai great Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (9-15-2, 47). The Thai is a criminally over-looked fighter who is often remembered unfairly as a fighter who only fought in Asia against weak opposition, but the reality is that he fought a lot of fighters who were a lot better than fans realise. In fact of the men he beat numerous ones went on to win world titles in the years that followed, and the way he essentially monopolised the WBC Flyweight world title in the 00's and early 10's is incredible.
So lets have a look at the 5 top wins of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
5-Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (October 28th 2010)
In Pongsaklek's first defense of his second reign he took on the then 14-3-1 (4) Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. At the age of 33 Pongsaklek was seen as being on the way out, and although Suriyan hadn't made his mark on the sport by this point, something he would do impressively in the coming years, though the then 21 year old left a great impression here. Pongsaklek was pushed all the way by a talented, tough, determined foe who came of age. Suriyan would put up an amazing effort, using his youth, energy and toughness. The challenger even threw up at one point yet still continued to press and push Wonjongkam in a bit of a forgotten classic. This was a great fight, a hotly contested battle and in many ways the start of the end for Wonjongkam, who would only defend the WBC title 3 more times. It was also a bout that put Suriyan on the map, before he won the WBC Super Flyweight title
4-Edgar Sosa (October 21st 2011)
A year after beating Suriyan we saw Pongsaklek take on excellent Mexican fighter Edgar Sosa. Sosa was 43-6, 2 years younger than Wonjongkam, a former long reigning Light Flyweight champion and a very, very good fighter. He had lost just once in his previous 32 bouts, and that was a very controversial loss to Rodel Mayol, on paper this looked a huge ask for the the ageing Pongsaklek, and Sosa was in great form. What we ended up seeing here was Pongsaklek out boxing, out thinking, out moving and out fighting the Mexican in what turned out to be one final great performance by Pongsaklek. Amazingly this would be his last win at world level. Sosa on the other hand remained a contender until quite recently, losing to Roman Gonzalez in 2015 and Donnie Nietes in 2016.
3-Malcolm Tunacao (March 2nd 2001)
Of course the win that puts a fighter on the map always belongs on any top 5 list, and that's exactly what we got when Pongsaklek took on WBC Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao in 2001. The unbeaten Tunacao was 11-0-1, 7, and had taken the title the previous year with a TKO win over Medgoen Singsurat and had made a defense in Japan against Celes Kobayashi. For Pongsaklek this was supposed to be the first real test, the first time he was facing someone of known quality and the first time the then 23 year old Thai was supposed to be in there with a top quality opponent. Pongsaklek made this look incredibly easy, surprisingly so in fact, as he dropped the Filipino champion just over a minute into the fight and set an incredible all out tempo. Tunacao got to his feet but was dropped a second time not afterwards and then dropped again. He was done within a round. This win kicked off a great reign for Pongasaklek and was one of only 2 career stoppages for Tunacao, the other coming more than 12 years later, in 12 rounds to Shinsuke Yamanaka. This was a huge win, and an incredibly impressive one when we look back over out.
2-Koki Kameda (March 27th 2010)
After losing the WBC Flyweight title to Daisuke Naito in 2007, in their third bout, it seemed like Pongsaklek was on his way out. He was "only" 29 at the time but had had 65 bouts and seemed to be on the slide. Over 2 years later however Pongsaklek would become a 2-time world champion, upsetting the then 22-0 Koki Kameda in a notable upset win. Kameda had been one of the stars of Japan, he was a controversial figure, but a huge star and at only 23 years old he was seen as one of the top rising stars, and was already a 2-weight world champion. Kameda had taken the title from Naito, and yet was unable to over-come the then 32 year old Pongaklek. The Thai legend pressed, pushed, forced the tempo and our worked Kameda, who had the edge in speed, but didn't do enough. This was a great win for Pongsaklek and was a huge win at the time, against one of the biggest names in Asian boxing.
1-Daisuke Naito (Apri 19th 2002) I
When a fighter sets a record that stands more than 17 years later, and does so against a future world champion it's worth making a note of. Especially when the fighters go on to have a very storied rivalry. That is part of what elevates Pongsaklek's first win against Daisuke Naito to the #1 place here. Entertaing the bout Naito was 19-0-2 (14), aged 27 he was seen as being in his physical prime and was a a legitimate title challenger. Despite Naito being a really good challenger, Wonjongkam managed to take him out with 1 powerful straight left hand after just 34 seconds. This blow out win is still the quickest win in a world title bout, one of the all time quickest in world title bouts, and was the only stoppage loss for Naito, who would later go 1-1-1 in a trio of rematches with Wonjongkam. For the historical context of this win, it takes the #1 place in our list of Wonjongkam's top 5 wins.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).