The Rise of the Golden Brothers: Thailand’s Oldest Champions
By: Ronnie Najjar
By: Ronnie Najjar
By: Ronnie Najjar
Ay and Bee as they are known, grew up in the Kanchanaburi province North-East of Bangkok.
In their small town they worked as local Tuk Tuk drivers. Their Uncle Suwit ran a humble Muay Thai gym with a few teenage fighters. The two brothers regularly trained but hadn’t competed since they were kids. Ay had lost interest after losing many times fighting bigger opponents and Bee stopped after his wife got pregnant the first time.
Ay and Bee had dreams of one day fighting in the Bangkok stadiums. But time had passed them by as they were busy fulfilling work and family responsibilities.
One day Uncle Suwit grew tired of his gym and was going to close it down. He owned a tobacco shop and although he didn’t like working there, it was paying the bills. The Muay Thai gym was becoming a liability.
Ay and Bee pleaded with him not to close it, and promised they would help keep it open. They offered to fight again to generate interest and money for the gym.
Uncle Suwit had always dreamed about Ay and Bee one day becoming champions. He thought long and hard about it, and came back with a proposition.
If they’d dedicate themselves to training before and after work, six days a week, and do exactly as he says for the next 12 months, he would close down the tobacco shop and focus on training them full time. Ay and Bee would help cleaning and maintaining uncle Suwits gym and do the house chores.
Ay and Bee agreed.
At age 37 and 31 years old, they began full time training again.
Uncle had a friend from the local newspaper come to the gym and do a story on the “two local brothers” training to fight for the Title in Bangkok. It was far fetched, but made for a good story.
Soon the town became curious, learning the tobacco shop had closed because Uncle and his nephews had dedicated themselves to this crazy mission.
The newspaper reporter continued documenting their training and soon the towns people started flocking to the gym to watch and support the two brothers. There had never been a champion from their tiny village ever!
Ten months later, Uncle Suwit was satisfied with the progress. He announced they were ready. They packed their bags and made their way to Bangkok.
Ay had been matched first at Raja stadium- the second most prestigious stadium in Bangkok. He was to fight Moronol- the fearsome knee fighter.
Ay started slow against Moronol. In the second round he switched gears. Ay knocked out the fearsome knee fighter in less than 3 rounds. The entire stadium was shocked. Many punters had lost money betting against Ay, and were angry. The promoter, desperate to calm the hostile crowd, announced that Ay will fight the champion next- Sakranjom “the deadly kisser” at Lumpini stadium next. The crowd cheered in excitement.
Sakranjom held two of the three Featherweight Titles in Thailand.
As the fight loomed, Ay was nervous. He had not expected to face Sakranjom so soon.
Ay’s showdown with the deadly kisser soon arrived. Everybody was expecting another devastating win for Sakranjom. The stadium was full and excited to see what would happen next.
Sakranjom came out of the dressing room to overwhelming cheers and support from the crowd. Ay was waiting in the ring. Uncle and Bee noticed he was looking nervous. When the fight started, Ay was fighting cautiously, respecting Sakranjom too much. He seemed to be star struck, and couldn’t get his head around the fact that he was in the ring with his childhood hero!
Bee yelled at him in the corner pleading to fight aggressively. Ay saw Uncle’s disappointment in his face and felt guilty. This was not the time to let down Uncle who had sacrificed so much for him.
Ay went back into round two and fought hard. He was beaten but kept fighting as strong as he could. Ay would not let this opportunity pass.
In round four, Ay landed an elbow to Sakranjom’s ear that sent him to the canvas. The deadly kisser tried to continue fighting but the referee called it when he realized Sakranjom wobbling and couldn’t stand straight.
His eardrum was ruptured by the elbow.
Ay was declared the new Featherweight Champion, and oldest champion at 38 to win the title.
The three returned to their town to cheers and adulation. The town mayor put on a festival.
After Ay’s impressive win against Moronol, his brother Bee was offered a chance to fight the contender and accepted. His fight would be at the Kings Birthday. He won, and went on to fight for the final Featherweight title held by another aging champion, and won that also.
Back in Kanchanaburi, Ay and Bee bought Uncle Suwit a brand new gym. They became trainers and inspired a whole new generation of fighters. The gym soon became one of the most famous in Thailand and went on to produce dozens of champions.
We can draw a few good lessons from this old Thai Fable;
Ay and Bee had childhood dreams of becoming Thai boxing champions. They were ageing and had little time left. If they wanted to realize their dream, it had to be now or never.
It’s easy to let time pass while not actively perusing our goals. Uncle Suwit knew Ay and Bee could still become champions, but they had to make a decision and prioritize fighting NOW.
What dreams and goals do you have that you’re not perusing yet, that you’re still holding off? Remind yourself about them- and start today. Starting today can mean planning an hour to think and daydream or write them down. Start the process; revive your dreams and goals if they’ve been dormant and water the seeds. The alternative is Never.
Uncle Suwit started with a humble gym before it became famous.
We also start from humble beginnings; whether learning a new skill, entering a new industry, starting a new business, or climbing up the ranks as a fighter. There will always be a big gap between where we are now, and where we want to go. But that’s the point- the story, the adventure, the fun!
We learn to cultivate belief and faith- and then live the process (and prove it right!)
Ay and bee did it against all odds, and it paid off.
If we feel incompetent, inexperienced, or too far off our goals, we need to remind ourselves that every successful person or fighter was once a beginner also.
Uncle Suwit’s tobacco shop is the stuff many of us don’t want to do but do it to survive- like a 9-5, night-shifts, or tolerating rude customers at work. We do it to pay the bills and survive.
The tobacco shop isn’t bad. We’re grateful it pays, and besides, life could be a lot worse.
But, it doesn’t inspire or excite us. If anything it compromises our dignity, slowly eroding our soul and creativity. Doing it because “we have to”. Of course it will take its toll! Yes, life can be tough and “you-gotta-do-what-you-gotta-do” but how much are we really compromising of ourselves by doing these jobs?
Are you doing a job you hate, saying YES to obligations you’d rather not honor, or in circumstances you’d rather not be?
Ay and Bee were working as Tuk Tuk drivers and Uncle Suwit was doing fine at the Tobacco shop. But once they got inspired with bigger goals, then they had direction and channeled their energy into what they really were meant to do- and their lives became more fulfilled because of it.
What it is we really want to be doing day-to-day with our lives? What excites us? What do we catch ourselves fantasizing about? That’s a clue into what we should be doing, and putting more energy into. Do we need to make a big decision? Take risks? Change our whole life structure? We may have our own tobacco shop we need to close down.
Uncle made a proposition to collaborate with Ay and Bee and risk selling his tobacco shop (insert your 9-5) and go for his- and his nephew’s dreams.
This is what we secretly want to do if we didn’t have the fear of consequences. How many times do we fantasize about risking all? Telling the boss where to go and walking out, quitting our jobs to travel the world, or leaving our partner and moving to the countryside.
Uncle Suwit was the catalyst for Ay and Bee to inspire and reorient their lives and make a decision. He believed in them and made the first bold move to decide he would risk all and go for the dream if Ay and Bee were in. Uncle was older and wiser and knew that time will pass by and was willing to go for it NOW. The alternative is Never.
We need to Decide what we want in life and be All In.
Ay was the heavy underdog against the deadly kisser.
Many of us are underdogs to our own giant opponents. It could be our bad habits, financial challenges, life circumstances, business competition or any challenge that looks daunting standing in between where we are now and where we want to go. We can either choose to feel disempowered or face our own Deadly Kisser.
If we chose to focus on where we are- the underdog and where we want to go- the championship, the gap seems overwhelming to jump. But if we focus on breaking it down, what we need to do on a daily basis to “move in that direction”, then we can rely and trust on the compounding effect making big things happen. We often underestimate the power of habit and consistency and how much results can compound over time.
Also, Life can surprise us. When we are courageous and do something “crazy” like fight Sakranjom, sometimes (not always), reality can bend in our favor and deliver us a nice win! We could land an elbow and rupture Sakranjoms eardrum and become the oldest Thai champion in history!
Ay got that one shot of inspiration he needed between rounds where he ramped up his aggression and landed that one elbow to rupture Sakranjols ear. That moment changed the course of thousands of lives.
Had he not done that and not won the Lumpini title would his brother fight for the other title? Would they have put their town of Kanchanaburi on the map? Would they have bought that new gym for Suwit? Would they have become trainers and produce dozens of champions transforming many lives of the fighters and their families? Probably not.
Those 2 minutes of that round made history. Ay knew what mattered and why. He wasn’t just doing it for himself.
To know what matters we have to search, dig deep, think, reflect, contemplate and write them down. We can’t do it in a day; it has to be a regular practice- for life! We are always changing and what matters to us changes also.
Three Levels of Benefit
Buying Uncle Suwit the new gym, turning into trainers and producing champions- this is about giving back. To have big goals and dreams not only benefits us, but it benefits the people around us, and society as a whole.
Having goals to better ourselves is motivating right? But imagine having goals that not only benefit us, but our family benefits too- and our friends, and our community. How much juice would we have then to keep going!
Uncle Suwit had risked all selling his tobacco shop, and Ay was not going to let him down. He was going back out into the next round and fighting his heart out. If it was just about him- he could have given up. He had more motivation because his goal of becoming Champion was not just about him, but his trainer, brother and his community.
I first got this idea about writing and clarifying how your goals benefit everyone around you from Jordan Peterson’s Self Authoring program.
We have to make our own goals about our friends, families and community. This will inspire us more and when the inevitable obstacles come, we will have enough reason and fortitude to soldier on- instead of give up. Our goals and dreams have to be worth the work and we have to CONVINCE ourselves it’s worth it. Adding three levels of benefits will arm us with more inspiration and grit to follow through, and actualize our potential more and more.
I’ll take it.