If you grew up in the 90’s you probably played the arcade hit Street Fighter II. This was probably your first encounter with Muay Thai.
Sagat, one of the final four bosses in Street Fighter II was a Muay Thai champion in the video game. He wore an eyepatch over his right eye, had his hands and ankles wrapped and sported some Muay Thai trunks as well as a huge scar on his chest. He was a hulk of a man standing 7’4″ and weighing in at over 280 pounds. Something that is pretty funny considering that most Muay Thai fighters tend to fight in the lighter weight classes. It is difficult to find many Thai fighters above 168 pounds.
Although Sagat is probably remembered by most from his appearance in Street Fighter II and several other games in the franchise afterward, he made his first appearance in the original Street Fighter. The game was released in 1987 but was nowhere near the hit that Street Fighter II was. Sagat is actually the main boss in the game.
So where did the idea for Sagat come from? It has never been confirmed by Capcom, the creators of the Street Fighter franchise, but it is widely accepted that he is based on Sagat Petchyindee.
Video game Sagat and real-life Sagat.
Unlike the Sagat in the video game, the real-life Sagat was only 5’8″ and weighed 140 pounds. Despite his much smaller size than his video game counterpart, he was one dangerous man. In Thailand most Boxer use fight names, Sagat’s birth name was Wirun Phonphimai. His professional record stands at 266-40-11. More than half of his wins came by way of knockout. The real Sagat also dabbled in Boxing going 12-2 as a professional. He was from the Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand. It is west of the Surin province which most fans will probably recognize because it is where Muay Thai superstar Buakaw is from.
Sagat was a three times Lumpinee Stadium champion and a three-time Radjadamnern Stadium champion. For anyone who doesn’t know the significance of those two stadiums, there are no belts in Muay Thai that are more prestigious than Lumpinee and Radjadamnern.
Sagat’s first fight was at the age of 11 and he eventually found his way to Bangkok where he fought for the famed Petchyindee gym, still one of the most prestigious gyms in Thailand to this date. The most notable wins of Sagat’s career came against Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn. He trilogy he had with Dieselnoi was won by Sagat as he bested the other Thai legend twice.
The real Sagat was an absolute beast.
The real-life Sagat was known for his Boxing ability, something that other greats like Samart are known for but overall Thai fighters are not. There is no confirmation, but it is thought that he was the basis for video game Sagat’s move the Tiger Uppercut.
Sagat teaches in Bangkok now, but since retiring from the sport he has worked on as a stuntman and an actor in movies. A lot of people might not realize that the Street Fighter character was based on a real person, and although they took some liberties with his size in the video game. The real-life Sagat is just as badass if not more than the one in the video game.
If you look at the real-life Sagat and the video game Sagat aside from their size they look alike. Sagat stated to the Bangkok Post that he thought about suing Capcom for using his likeness without his consent, but eventually decided against it. The time and money would not have been worth it. Sagat instead decided to use the video game Sagat as a way of self-promotion.