Phon Kingphet

March Focus: Thailand’s First Boxing World Champion
Phon Kingphet (โผน กิ่งเพชร), a.k.a. Mana Seedokbuab was the first Thai boxer to ever win a world title.

Born in Hua Hin on February 12, 1935, Phon was a professional boxer who became world flyweight champion 3 times.

On the 16th April 1960 at Lumphini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Phon Kingphet became Thailand’s first ever world boxing champion, defeating the legendary Pascual Pérez of Argentina in a split decision over 15 rounds. At the time, Pérez had been world champion for 5 years. In the rematch held on September 22, 1960, Kingphet knocked Pérez out in the 8th round, cementing his status as a world class fighter.

He was to have 4 more successful defences of his title stretching from March 2, 1961 to May 30, 1962.

In October of 1962, Phon travelled to the Kokugikan Stadium Tokyo, where he met the Japanese boxer Fighting Harada on October 10. Phon lost his world crown by a knockout in the 11th round.

Phon got his rematch only 3 months later when Fighting Harada came to the National Stadium Gymnasium in Bangkok on January 12, 1963. Phon Kingphaet regained the world title after defeating Harada in a Majority Decision.

Later that same year, Phon was to again lose his crown when he defended his title against Hiroyuki Ebihara on the 18th September, 1963 at the Metropolitan Gym in Tokyo. Disappointingly, Phon lost by a knockout after only 2 minutes and 7 seconds of the opening round. This bout unified the WBC and WBA World Flyweight titles under Ebihara.

Seeking a rematch actually saw Ebihara obligingly travel to Bangkok for the defence of his crowns. This bout was held on January 23rd, 1964 at Rajadamnern Stadium. The decision did not work out well for Ebihara as Phon was to win in a Split Decision, giving him both the WBA and WBC Flyweight titles. This was the first time any boxer had held the Flyweight title on 3 separate occasions.

After a long delay of some 13 months, Phon’s defence of the crowns came on April 23, 1965 when he travelled to Italy to take on Italian powerhouse Salvatore Burruni at the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome. Phon lost the fight in a Unanimous Decision.

There is no indication why a rematch was not sought; perhaps it was and refused, but his next fight was not for a further 10 months, giving him only 3 fights in a period of just over 2 years from January 1964 to February 1966. He took on rising star Baby Lorona in Bangkok on February 17,1966. At the age of 31, this was to be Phon’s penultimate fight. He lost in a Split Decision.

His final fight came only 2 months later when he took on the newcomer Kumanthong Yontarakit in Phuket, Thailand. Phon won his final bout by a knockout in the 4th round and announced his retirement not long afterwards.

On March 31, 1982, Phon Kingphaet died of pneumonia in Bangkok. He was aged just 47.

He was regarded as a ‘smart’ boxer, using his long reach and exceptional jab to get opponents off balance. He was also regarded as having excellent footwork; many were the times that his footwork got him out of a tight situation in the ring.

Phon Kingphaet was inducted into the World Boxing Council Hall of Fame in 2004.

Boxing Record
Total Fights 35
Wins 28
By KO 9
Losses 7
By KO 3
Draws 0

The years he held the world title were 1960 – 1962, 1963 and 1964 – 1965.

A statue was erected to commemorate Phon. The statue was moved from Hua Hin Beach to its current location. It now graces the park in Hua Hin that shares his name.

At Feast Thailand Food Tours, we would like to offer this small tribute to a great man and a Thai legend.

To Phon Kingphet, you were grace and courage personified.

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