From the golden era of Muay Thai, to Kickboxing and modern-day strikers there have been many fighters who specialised in delivering massive headshot knockouts. Crowds have always flocked to the stadiums to watch this special calibre of “Headhunter” compete, anxiously anticipating the sudden act of violence that can end a contest at any moment.
This article looks at five of the most proficient headhunters in recent history, including descriptions of their distinct fighting styles, their sporting accolades and some of their most well-known victims.
1) Anuwat Kewsamrit
There is always one name mentioned when discussing headhunters in Muay Thai history: Anuwat Kaewsamrit. Also known as “The Iron Hands of Siam,” Anuwat earned his moniker by using his aggressive Muay Mat style to rack up an insane number of knockouts with 61 of his 108 wins coming by way of devastating punches.
A prodigy in the stadiums, Anuwat won his first Rajadamnern title by knockout after just 35 fights before going on to win another two more prestigious Rajadamnern belts in the next two years. Anuwat went on to win WBC, WMC and WPMF world titles but the most impressive feat of his outstanding career was in 2005 when he became the first Nak Muay in history to unify the Rajadamnern and Lumpinee titles.
Anuwat’s iron hands have stopped many of Muay Thai’s living legends including Bovy Sor Udomson, Singdam and Lerdsila.
2) Sagat Petchyindee
Golden era legend and the inspiration for the eyepatch toting villain in the Street Fighter video game franchise, Sagat is up there with the best headhunters in striking history. 151 of Sagat’s 266 wins came by way of KO, most of which came from savage head punches.
Despite his formidable presence in the ring, Sagat claims to live a very peaceful life, having spent a lot of his childhood amongst Buddhist monks, even going as far to claim that they helped him develop his infamous “Tiger Uppercut.”
Sagat’s incredible punching power helped him to win numerous Rajadamnern and Lumpinee titles and also gave him a second-round stoppage victory against Muay Thai legend Samart Payakaroon. In fact, Sagat hunted headshot knockouts so voraciously that when he moved to professional boxing at the tail end of his career, he was able to capture the OPBF world title and achieved 8 devastating knockout wins from his 14 professional boxing fights.
3) Nathan Corbett
Heavyweights are notorious for their explosive power and ability to put their opponents to sleep on short notice and Australian Muay Thai and Kickboxing fighter Nathan “Carnage” Corbett is no exception. Corbett amassed 11 world titles and a total of 61 fights in his career with 59 wins and a whopping 44 of those coming by way of knockout. Many of these are attributed to his savage elbow strikes which gained him the title of “The Man with the Golden Elbows” on the Australian fighting circuit.
Carnage was known for his fast paced and aggressive fighting style where he would use a barrage of heavy hands to push his opponents onto the ropes so that they couldn’t escape his savage elbow strikes. He also mastered the art of controlling his opponents’ arms and “stripping” their guards with his hands to set up his knockout shots.
“It’s all about what’s going to do the most damage. If the push-kick wasn’t going to do maximum damage, then I had no use for it”.
As a heavyweight, Corbett did not have the chance to fight many of the elite Thais of his era but did achieve a KO win against multiple Rajadamnern and K-1 World Champion Kaoklai Kaennorsing as well as four-time WBC world champion Steve McKinnon. Corbett’s powerful and relentless fighting style is broken down in great detail in the video above.
4) Gokhan Saki
In the world of Kickboxing, it is hard to overlook Gokhan Saki as one of the best headhunters of his era. Saki is a two-time Glory Kickboxing world champion made famous by his use of the “Saki Bomb,” a tremendously powerful overhand punch that is responsible for many of the 59 Knockout victories he amassed in his 99 fight career.
Saki started his career in Muay Thai, becoming a world champion by the age of twenty before moving into the world of Kickboxing where he fought regularly in the K-1 World Grand Prix and eventually Glory where he claimed the Light Heavyweight world title.
Gokhan’s “Saki Bomb” flattened some of the best Kickboxers of his era, ending fights against Nathan Corbett and seven-time WMC World Champion Paul Slowinski in the very first round. Saki’s explosive head punches are also responsible for knocking out Kickboxing legend Tyrone Spong, a man who has only been stopped four times in his 116 fight kickboxing career.
In the video above you can see how Saki set up his namesake overhand often by slipping off the centreline as his opponents throw their own power punches or by stripping their guard as they cover to defend themselves against a destructive barrage of strikes.
5) Muangthai P.K Saenchaimuaythaigym
In the current era of Muay Thai and Kickboxing, Muangthai P.K Saenchaimuaythaigym stands out as one of the most ferocious headhunters due to his relentless Muay Bouk fighting style. Nicknamed “The Elbow Zombie” due to his aggressive pursuit of elbow strikes, Muangthai’s favoured weapon has gained knockout wins against Thai superstars Kulabdam and Panpayak Jitmuangnon.
Muangthai credits his aggressive, walk-forward style to his father who was his first coach before he relocated to the famous P.K Saenchaimuaythaigym. It’s a style that has been highly successful, granting the superstar 203 wins from his 249 recorded fights wherein he won the famed Channel 7 Stadium and Lumpinee Stadium titles before he signed with ONE Championship, an organization that he continues to compete till today.
The video aboce shows the way that Muangthai uses his walk-forward style, hunting his opponents across the ring to get into a range where he can control their arms to create openings for his savage elbow strikes.
This article covered just five of the many headhunters in the long history of combat sports, an industry that is always changing and evolving to meet the demands of a growing audience. In an era where fast paced three round fights, 4oz gloves and knockout bonuses are becoming the norm, there is no doubt that a new generation of headhunters will soon be climbing to superstardom.
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