Muay Thai boxer (and Thai herself) Nong Rose Baan Charoensuk was originally born as a boy and named Somros Polchareon, but now identifies as a woman, having changed gender as a teenager.
She has now become the first transgender boxer to compete on French soil after a contest with French national Muay Thai champion Akram Hamidi yesterday night (Saturday January 6) at the Pierre-de-Coubertin hall, ahead of the Courbertin gala in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, reports French news source 20Minutes.
Breaking down barriers: Transgender boxer Nong Rose makes Paris debut against French champion Akram Hamidi pic.twitter.com/unkCNYywJA— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) January 6, 2018
Despite eventually losing her match last night, she is known to be a fierce opponent, having competed in over 300 fights - against men - and having turned professional two years ago, becoming celebrated as much for her devastating high-kicks and knee jabs, as for her long black hair, bright pink sports bra and lipstick, which she wears in training and during her contests.
She fights on average once a month, in contests that offer prizes of around €2,500 (฿100,000 Thai baht), and she has won over 150 of her 300 fights, including 30 total knockouts.
Charoensuk said she was “very happy to be the first trans woman to compete in France”, having been afraid, when she was younger, of “people not accepting me as a woman”.
In red lipstick and a pink sports bra, Nong Rose trains at a Thai boxing gym, preparing for a foreign debut that will make her the first transgender fighter to enter the ring in France https://t.co/klptVbjqtK pic.twitter.com/ozLW4bYr5J— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 1, 2018
Although Thailand is known in some quarters as being friendly to transgender people, transexuality was still seen officially as a “mental illness” by the ruling army until 2012.
Now, Charoensuk says this fight has allowed her to “promote trans people, and show we are worth as much as everyone else,” she said to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “We are not weak.”
Muay Thai boxing runs in Charoensuk’s family, as her uncle was a professional competitor, and her twin brother Samrak now competes in the under-52kg category.
The twins’ uncle began training them in their small Thai village when they were just eight years old, and the twins were used to testing each other in fights as children.
“She was always stronger than me,” Charoensuk’s twin brother told AFP.
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