Written by: Matt Lucas
Photos by: Rob Cox
The squared circle of the Muay Thai boxing ring is a battlefield. Hopes and dreams are born and die as the seconds pass, as the blows are given and received, as the referee counts and as hands are raised. Some warriors are able to persevere and sustain themselves. Through skill and dedication, they pass through the moments of death to live lives of glory.
Superbank T-Ded 99, is one of these soliders. Destined for war in the ring Superbank was born on a military base in Rangsit to a father who was in the Royal Thai Army. “My father loved boxing and would bring me to the gym on the base to work out.” Superbank said. “I had my first fight when I was 9 years old. I made 300 baht.”Superbank, also known as Superbank Mor Rattanabundit, eventually moved to his current gym of T Ded 99 although he still retained ties with the army base. The boxers would shift back and forth between the gyms according to their fight programs. All the boxers at the army base are soldiers whereas the boxers out of T Ded 99 are full time Muay Thai fighters. Army service in Thailand is compulsorary with a yearly draft and lottery recruiting young men into the service.
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Located in the Saphan Kwai district of Bangkok, T Ded 99 Muay Thai gym is owned and operated by the same owner of T Ded 99, a popular Thai go go bar. The dance club sits on a corner opposite of the gym on Sutthisan road. The Muay Thai gym however hovers above the go go bar and is on the top story of apartment complex. Lush astro turf covers the floor along with a boxing ring that offers a scenic view of the city. The rows of heavy bag are constantly smashed by the large stable of fighters at the gym. The gym has produced a wealth of talent including Petchmorakat T Ded 99 who holds multiple Rajadamnern and Lumpinee belts.
T-Ded 99 has been a base of operations for Superbank but he can also be found at other gyms to sharpen his tools. “I will go to other camps to sharpen my technique. Sometimes I go to FA Group behind Channel 7 by Chauchak park as well,” he said.
Putting together different styles and techniques has made Superbank who he is today. He has picked up different weapons from a variety of fighters to develop his arsenal. “I grew up watching technical fighters like Saenchai. It’s part of how I developed my style. It’s the same with my wai khru. I mashed up the different styles and it brought me where I am today,” he said.
It is his style is that sets Superbank apart. He is a slick technical boxer with beautiful sweeps. His ability to unhinge his opponents is unparalleled and he recently went toe to toe with Seksan Or Kwanmuang, The Man Who Yields for No One, in their third bout. Previously the two had gone the distance and the judges had declared it a draw, twice. Seksan is known for his relentless aggression and unbeatable spirit. Superbank was able to use his technical abilities to gain two draws and only one loss against his formidable opponent.
His bouts with Seksan werent his proudest acheivements though that goes to an earlier fight in his career. “It was a great moment for me when I won my first Rajadamenern belt at 105lbs,” Superbank said. Rajadmanern is the oldest Muay Thai stadium in Thailand and is now the center for the biggest fights in Bangkok. Having a belt at the legendary stadium proves that you are the best of the best in Muay Thai.
Superbank has collected several belts during his career. Along with the 105lb belt he took the 115lb Rajadamnern belt and the 126lb Lumpinee belt. “I defended my belts 6 times and never lose the title from a bout,” he said. When boxers repeatedly battle each other and the decisions in a fight razor thin this is a great accomplishment.
Superbank always dreamed of making it big from the start. “When I first started out my dream was to make 100,000 baht per fight,” he said. “I’ve accomplished that. I want to keep going as long as I can. Saenchai, Singdam, they are in their 30’s and still fighting at a high level. If I can still compete at that level I will keep fighting.”
The opportunity for top level fighters in Thailand to continue fighting is growing as the sport develops overseas. While the normal cut off for Thai fighters at the major stadiums is in their early 20’s, fighting abroad can extend their career. Not only will Thai fighters get paid better but they also receive more international recognition.
“I want to fight internationally. I haven’t yet. A few people have been talking but nothing has happened yet,” Superbank said.
The war for Superbank isn’t over yet. There are more fights to have, more stadiums to conquer, more opponents to vanquish. He has yet to fight overseas. His victories on the battlefield are just temporary. The long march presses on and Superbank is, and always will be, a soldier.
Photo: Team InFightStyle