Boxing brothers Thanongsak (left) and Sitthisak (center) working the mitts with trainer Poom Kasonset – Photo by Wasim Mather
On a scorching day at Bangkok’s Sasakul Gym, the relentless thudding of boxing bags provided a rhythmic backdrop to the unforgiving heat.
This gym was a sanctuary for many, a place where warriors honed their craft. On this particular day, it was sparring time for two of Thailand’s top lower weight boxers. Panya Pradabsri, the reigning WBC strawweight champion, and Thamanoon Niyomtrong, the current WBA “super” champion in the same division, were training there. Their rigorous preparations were under the watchful eye of none other than Chatchai Sasakul, a former WBC flyweight champion.
Amidst the sweat-soaked intensity, a familiar face entered the gym. Boxing manager and trainer Mr. Poom Kosonset arrived with his two charges: Sitthisak Simsri (17-2, ranked at No. 4 by the WBA in the minimumweight division), and his brother Thanongsak Simsri (30-1, currently at No. 8 in the WBO junior flyweight division). Their mission that day was to spar with Panya Pradabsri, an essential part of Pradabsri’s preparation for his upcoming bout against the slick southpaw Yudai Shigeoka.
As the two Simsri brothers traded blows with Pradabsri round after round, their fearlessness in the face of relentless work became evident. Both brothers showcased a slick boxing style characterized by exceptional footwork and lightning-fast speed.
“My journey with the Simsri brothers began when a friend who owned a Muay Thai gym introduced me to Thanongsak,” Kosonset said. “At the time, he had never boxed before. I trained him for two years, and it wasn’t long before Sitthisak saw his brother’s progress and joined the boxing journey”.
Both Thanongsak and Sitthisak hail from Sisaket province in the heart of Northeastern Thailand, known as Isan. This region has produced countless fighters in both Muay Thai and boxing, driven by the pursuit of a better life in the face of poverty. What sets the Simsri brothers apart is their limited amateur boxing background. Unlike many Thai boxers who transitioned from Muay Thai with hundreds of fights under their belts, these brothers had only a handful of Muay Thai bouts.
Kosonset explained, “Thanongsak had only 40 Muay Thai fights, and Sitthisak had a mere 5. They lacked the extensive experience typically seen in Thai fighters.”
Remarkably, despite their limited experience, the Simsri brothers have achieved world rankings. Kosonset emphasized that they began their professional careers with little experience and learned on the job, steadily building their skills. Both fighters have been consistently active since turning pro.
At 23 years old, the older brother, Thanongsak, has ventured outside his native Thailand to fight five times in Japan, boasting an impressive record of 4 wins and 1 loss. Notably, he handed Christian Bacolod, a previously undefeated prospect from the Philippines, his first defeat. However, his biggest challenge came when he faced former WBC light flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki in a world title prelude in 2022. Despite a valiant effort, Thanongsak was sent to the canvas in the second and sixth rounds, leading to a seventh-round stoppage.
Manager Kosonset shared his thoughts on the Yabuki fight, stating, “Before facing Yabuki, I knew Thanongsak lacked experience. He’s only 24 now. I want to provide him with more opportunities to gain experience over the next two years and make him stronger before attempting another world title shot. I believe he can do it.”
In his most recent bout in August, Thanongsak secured a second-round victory over Japanese journeyman Shota Asami (10-12).
The younger brother, Sitthisak Simsri (17-2), faced a tough setback in his last fight against Japanese southpaw Yuga Ozaki (4-0-1) for the WBC youth light flyweight title. Sitthisak was dropped twice in the first round, prompting the referee to stop the action in the second round. When asked about this step up in competition, Kosonset commented, “I think Ozaki is strong, a former Japanese amateur champion with extensive experience. Sitthisak has limited experience, but he possesses heart and trains diligently.”
Kosonset continued, “While fighting for a world title might be challenging for him due to his lack of experience, I believe he can become an Asian champion. I want him to participate in smaller shows to gain valuable experience and gradually progress. Both brothers are dedicated and disciplined, never giving up.”
Currently, the Simsri brothers have fully embraced the demanding path of professional boxing, learning on the job due to their limited fight experience. They maintain a hectic schedule, actively competing on a monthly basis and sparring with world champions at various gyms to gain valuable experience.
Thanongsak, coming off a recent win, seems poised for a world title shot within the next year or two. Meanwhile, Sitthisak, despite his last challenging bout, remains a young 21-year-old fighter with 19 professional fights under his belt.
In a world where fairy tales sometimes come true, could we witness them following the footsteps of legendary Thai brothers and former champions Khaokor and Khaosai Galaxy? Only time will reveal the answer.
One thing is certain: the Simsri brothers have their eyes on the stars.