Boxer from Buriram becomes first Thai woman K-1 champion

Striking a blow for Thai women, Phayahong Ayothayafightgym, a Thai boxer from the northeastern province of Buriram and a cousin of the global pop star Blackpink Lisa, fought her way to a K-1 championship in Tokyo last week, becoming the first globally recognized Thai woman world champion kickboxer.

Thailand is the origin country of Muay Thai, the world-renowned style of kickboxing fought across Southeast Asia. The Kingdom has been home to many Muay Thai and international-style boxing champions, but this is the first time a Thai woman has won a world kickboxing championship organized by a global organization. K-1 was founded in 1993 and stages kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts contests around the world.

Phayahong, whose real name is Chanthakan Manobal, defeated Japanese fighter Sukawara Miyu on the final round at the Yoyoki National Gymnasium in Tokyo. The fight was a close one, with the boxers tied on the judges scorecards after three rounds. In K-1, that necessitated fighting an extra round. Phayahong prevailed over her rival, showing endurance and determination while Miyu was clearly tiring. Two of the tree judges gave the Thai the round and a split decision victory.

In doing so, she snatched the championship from her Japanese opponent in the 45-kilogram (99-pound) division. The divison is roughly the equivalent of a flyweight in international boxing, but is called the Krush Atomweight division in K-1.

Phayahong is a cousin of Lalisa Manobal, a member of the internationally successful Korean pop (K-Pop) group Blackpink and a superstar in Thailand. Phayahong is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.

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