Thai legend Saensak dies at 58
Ex-champion suffered intestinal problems
- By: EDWARD THANGARAJAH
- Published: 17/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: Sports
Boxing legend Saensak Muangsurin, who won a world title in just his third professional fight in 1975, passed away yesterday.
The 58-year-old from Phetchabun died of intestinal complications at Rajvithi Hospital with his wife Sasawan and his adopted daughter Panwat at his bedside.
Dr Theerachai Ukritmanorot said Saensak’s condition had deteriorated since he underwent surgery on his intestines after being rushed to the hospital on Sunday.
“After the operation, he had a breathing problem and was put in an ICU. He was taken care of by several specialists but we could not save him,” Dr Theerachai said.
Bathing rites will be held today at Sala 3 of Wat Tri Thotsathep at 5pm. The function will be presided over by Pol Gen Kovid Bhakdibhumi, vice president of the World Boxing Council and president of the Asian Boxing Council.
Saensak, whose real name was Boonsong Mansri, was a Muay Thai champion before switching to the Queensbury rules.
With his lethal left hand, Saensak took the boxing world by storm when he won the WBC light-welterweight title in 1975. He scored an eighth-round technical knockout win over champion Perico Fernandez of Spain at the Indoor Stadium in Hua Mark.
It was only his third fight in the professional Queensbury rules. He still held the record of taking the shortest time to win a world title.
The following year, he lost his crown in his second title defence against Miguel Velasquez of Spain in Madrid after being disqualified.
He was adjudged to have punched and floored his opponent at the bell at the end of the fourth round. But his handlers felt he was robbed.
WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who was at the ringside, ordered an immediate rematch and Saensak won the title back via a second round technical knockout.
Saensak successfully defended his title seven times before being knocked out by South Korea’s Kim Sang Hyun in Seoul in 1978.
He then fell into relative obscurity losing both of his fights in 1979, one of which was a third-round knockout by Thomas Hearns who later became a boxing superstar.
Saensak last fought in 1981 before retiring with a record of 14-6-0 (11KOs).
Blind in one eye, Saensak had money problems later in his life. He claimed he was cheated by people surrounding him.He survived through monthly salaries from the Sports Authority of Thailand (7,000 baht a month) and the WBC (US$200 a month).