Karuhat Sor. Supawan – “Top Master” of Golden Age Muay Thai
GIF from his fight vs Samorankot Sor. Ploenjit see the whole fight here
Above is a GIF from Karuhat’s fight against Kaensak’s gymmate, Samorankot. Kevin and I both shouted, “did you see that?” as it happened, then right after the Lumpinee announcer says in Thai, “I’ve never seen that before!”
We spent most of the day watching all the fights of Karuhat on Youtube that we could find, and in nearly all of them we had similar exclamations. While he doesn’t whip out never-before-seen tricks like this elbow GIF in every fight, his overall style is full of this kind of explosiveness and “holy shit, did you see that?!” combinations. Watching his movements recalls to me a very different “era” of Muay Thai, one that at once looks older than his actual time but also like a super-advanced style as well. His fight name (คฤหาสน์) means a mansion or castle, but his nickname (fighters get monikers from the public in addition to their more prestigious fight names) is Yod Sihan. He was given the name Sihan (Master, Best) as a baby. Fans raised it to Yod Sihan (ยอดเซียน), “Top” or “Ultimate” Master, with connotations towards gambling/card playing, like an unbeatable card-shark. Maybe Master Gambler, the one that beats the odds through mastery and skill. But could be translated to mean, simply “The Best”or “The Very Best”.
Last night I had the amazing privilege of having the legend Kaensak Sor. Ploenjit corner for me at my fight in Hua Hin. I have this fortune because I trained with Kaensak back in the US before moving to Thailand and we’ve remained friends. At the venue, Pi Kaen showed me a seat at a table behind the ring and told me this other gentleman, around Kaensak’s age, would be helping to corner as well. He told me his name and I had never heard of it. Pi Kaensak was amazed, “he’s the best,” he said, “good same as me. We fight four times, I win only one time.” Pi Kaensak clearly held him in high esteem and I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t know him, but I had Pi Kaensak write his name in Thai on my phone so I could search him and sure enough when his old photo came up I did recognize his face but had never seen his fights. Now I’ve spent the day watching so many of them! It was amazing to see him sitting there at the table, looking quite small and smiling so nicely between glances through his spectacles at whatever he was doing on his phone. He poured Kaensak a drink and the two were clearly long-time friends. There was a charisma, confidence and calmness about Karuhat that is familiar to me as these retired fighters – legends – go. It’s a wonderful “type.”
And today it was amazing to watch two of the four fights between Kaensak and Karuhat from 20+ years ago, the two of them giving the best of themselves to stop the other in the ring, and knowing full well that this story ends with the two of them sitting at a table together as good friends. Cornering for me and then running out the door to make the most of the night like they’re 20 years old.
คฤหาสน์ ส.สุภาวรรณ vs วีระพล สหพรหม (Karuhat Sor. Suppawan vs. Weerapon Sahaprom)
[Update: Unfortunately this video was taken down]
This was the first fight we watched of Karuhat and we flipped out. His speed in exploding to attack and then immediately blocking and then countering again is just madness. Or sorcery. He honestly seems like you can’t even tag him and he’s almost always smaller than his opponents, who have reach and weight on him (one or two pounds, generally, at same-day weigh in) but he’s just this impenetrable fortress with that front knee up. And he does this bizarre switch of stance as he’s coming in to land a left hand that’s certainly way more confusing for his opponent than it is just watching it, but it’s brilliant and works every damn time! We were yelling at the screen all throughout this match. Great introduction, as you instantly become an uber-fan.
Karuhat Sor. Supawan vs Lamnamoon Sor. Sumalee (rematch)
We watched this one after a string of others, so we already knew to watch out for Karuhat’s elbows, which he is masterful with in the clinch. But this rematch must have had him thinking about doing them unto death because Karuhat opens the fight with an all-you-can-eat elbow buffet. Amazing tactic against a much-taller opponent. One of my favorite moments is when Karuhat cuts Lamnamoon with an elbow around the first minute of the clip and steps back, points at it and smiles like, “look what I did there!”
If you want to read up on Karuhat there is his interview from last year in Siam Fight Mag which always does the best covering great fighters of the past. He was three times Lumpinee champ, once at 112 and twice at 122. As said was very well known for fighting bigger fighters, and for deploying the elbow. His record was 190 fights – 165 wins, 23 losses, 2 draws. And did not start fighting until the age of 13 (photo at the top) which is very late by Thai standards.
Playlist of Karuhat Sor. Supawan’s Fights