Best I Faced: Khaosai Galaxy
Khaosai Galaxy is the gold standard for boxing in Thailand. He is recognized as his country’s greatest boxer as well as the best fighter in the history of the junior bantamweight division’s 37-year history.
Galaxy, was born in Petchaboon, in the north of Thailand on May 15, 1959. His birth name was Sohla Saenghom. His family were farmers and extremely poor. At just five years old, he began Muay Thai and earned 50 Baht ($1 USD) a fight.
He had hoped to go into the military but was told he was too short. So he decided to stay in combat sports, taking part in more than 100 Muay Thai bouts before he was convinced by his handlers to switch to boxing.
He turned pro in 1980 and, like many boxers from Thailand, he changed his name, incorporating his manager’s nightclub’s name as his second name. Galaxy won his first six bouts before losing to Sak Galaxy (no relation) for the Thai national bantamweight title. The fight was significant because he never lost again. Although initially rather crude, his power and relentless style earned him attention.
The heavy-handed southpaw reeled off 18 consecutive wins to become the WBA 115-pound mandatory challenger. However, then champion Jiro Watanabe wasn’t keen to face the marauding Thai and was stripped of his title.
This left the way clear for Galaxy to face Eusebio Espinal of the Dominican Republic for the vacant throne. After Galaxy’s backers brought the bout to Thailand in November of 1984, he won by sixth round knockout and his reign of terror began.
Four months later, Galaxy got his title tenure under way, knocking out Dong-Chun Lee in seven rounds and fought twice more in 1985, once against former two-time WBC titlist Rafael Orono, who he stopped in five rounds.
With no challengers available, Galaxy sat for 11 months, resurfacing in the only fight of his career that took place outside Asia, stopping future WBC and WBO bantamweight titleholder Israel Contreras in five rounds in the exotic Caribbean local of Curaçao.
Galaxy kicked off his 1987 campaign on the road in Indonesia, stopping IBF beltholder Elly Pical in the 14th round. Unfortunately, the IBF didn’t sanction the unification.
In 1988, twin brother Khaokar joined him as world champion when he won the WBA bantamweight title. They became the first set of twins to win world titles and reign concurrently.
He made two defenses at home before the Korean paymasters decided to bankroll a fight between Galaxy and their man, former IBF titlist Chang Ho Choi in Seoul. Galaxy took Choi apart in eight rounds to register his eighth defense.
The mighty Thai was gaining fearsome notoriety for the manner in which he demolished his opponents and earned he nickname “The Thai Tyson.”
In 1989, he continued with four successful defenses of his crown, two at home and two on the road in Japan. In the December of that year, he was involved in a serious car accident with his brother. It didn’t keep him on the sidelines for long.
He made four more defenses in 1990, all in Thailand, all by knockout.
He opened 1991 with two more defenses before bringing the curtain down on his outstanding title reign with a spirited decision over tough Mexican Armando Castro.
Although, Galaxy bested Castro over 12 rounds in December of 1991, he was clearly feeling the strain and that perhaps his best was behind him and elected to step away from the sport at 32 years old.
“I am getting old and it is so hard work for me to lose 10 kilos [22 pounds],” Galaxy told RingTV.com through Dr. Siraphop Ratanasuban. “I finished my hard life and got into acting, movies and singing.”
Galaxy retired with a record of 47-1 (41 knockouts) after making 19 defenses of his WBA strap over a period of seven years and one month, both are division records that still stand today. His devastating power earned him the No. 19 place in THE RING magazine’s “100 Greatest Punchers of All time.”
The Thai national hero is pleased with several of his achievements during his career.
“First defense overseas (stopping Israel Contreras in Curaçao in the Caribbean),” he explained, “last fight (vs. Castro) and beating Orono.”
Since retiring, Galaxy was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.
Galaxy, now 58, married for the third time in 2013, with one child, lives in Bangkok where he also owns a gym. Initially he dabbled in property development and politics. Although financially sound, the still popular ex-fighter regularly appears in films in his homeland.
Galaxy agreed to speak about the best fighters he fought in 10 categories.
Alberto Castro: I remember he is special with always good jab to hit my face.
Eusebio Espinal: I remember he always blocked well. I was good at blocking too.
Armando Castro: I remember he is so strong, when I hit him hard many times, and he still hung on.
Israel Contreras: Fast and just right to the target.
Kongtoranee Payakaroon: He is a good runner.
Payakaroon: He knows if I hit him (I’d hurt him), so he ran.
Armando Castro: He is the strongest I remember.
Armando Castro: Because I almost died from his punches.
Armando Castro: Because I always remember him.
Armando Castro: Because after this fight, I quit. It is so difficult to fight him.
Dr. Siraphop Ratanasuban helped coordinate and translate this feature. RingTV.com appreciates his assistance.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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