Atkin­son re­mem­bers good times

Coach looks back at past glo­ries

Bangkok Post - - Sports - Story by ED­WARD THANGARAJAH

When­the late Sa­ha­somb­hop Sri­somvongse de­cided to en­gage Eng­land’s Charles Atkin­son as a box­ing ex­pert and coach for his fight­ers at the Chi­ta­l­ada Gym­na­sium many box­ing ex­perts in the coun­try — ob­vi­ously jeal­ous that a for­eigner was be­ing em­ployed — spread all sorts of ca­nards.

They in­duced fight­ers to rebel against the Bri­tish coach and tried their best to op­pose the move. This scribe was present when a se­nior pro­moter, who is no more with us, ridiculed the late Sa­ha­somb­hop claim­ing that he was build­ing cas­tles in the air.

But Sa­ha­somb­hop had im­plicit faith in Atkin­son and en­trusted him with the task of trans­form­ing his box­ers into cham­pi­ons.

Thai­land had no world cham­pi­ons then. The last two ti­tle-hold­ers, Saen­sak Muang­surin and the late Netrnoi Sor Vo­ras­ing were beaten and there were none on the hori­zon who were ca­pa­ble of win­ning ti­tles. Atkin­son be­gan scout­ing for tal­ent. Mean­while Sa­ha­somb­hop, along with this scribe, in­vited WBC pres­i­dent Dr. Jose Su­laiman to to Thai­land to open the doors for Thai box­ers to earn world rank­ings and to bid for ti­tles.

That’s how the King­dom was able to cre­ate 10 world cham­pi­ons and 10 hold­ers of the in­ter­na­tional bauble.

Atkin­son sac­ri­ficed a lot. He re­ceived lit­tle for his ser­vices to box­ing and the coun­try but did his best for the King­dom.

He loved his work and was happy with his charges de­spite the fact that he was be­ing pin-pricked at ev­ery turn by jeal­ous lo­cal coaches.

Like Amer­i­can coach Joe Clough, who trans­formed slug­gers into box­ers and box­er­punch­ers, he taught that box­ing was a noble art of self-defence. That is how the King­dom was able to pro­duce some out­stand­ing box­ers, no­table among them was Sot Chi­ta­l­ada, who was known as the Muham­mad Ali of the East, Sa­mart Payakarun who Charles still claimed could have beaten Hec­tor Ca­ma­cho at his best. He knocked out Lupe Pin­tor to win the su­per-ban­tamweight ti­tle.

The Ja­panese laughed at Napa Ki­at­wan­chai when he went to the Land of the Ris­ing Sun to chal­lenge a well-trained Hiroki Ioka for the world strawweight ti­tle. The ti­tle­fight was held three times to en­sure that the Thai was in­deed the win­ner.

Charles be­lieves Si­r­i­mongkol Sing­manas­suk is eas­ily one of the best fight­ers the coun­try has pro­duced, but has not been man­aged prop­erly.

He was sad to hear that Si­r­i­mongkol had to re­duce many pounds in or­der to fight an op­po­nent at su­per-feath­er­weight for a few thou­sand baht and then go into K1-fight­ing in or­der to earn money.

Th­ese are un­happy is­sues which could have been eas­ily avoided if the late Sa­ha­somb­hop was alive. Atkin­son said he would have never al­lowed such abuses to take place.

Charles is to­day a box­ing con­sul­tant and is train­ing young coaches in Eng­land. The World Box­ing Coun­cil is plan­ning to start an of­fice in Eng­land and he plans, along with man­ager-pro­moter Gus Robin­son, to help build the sport in Bri­tain.

His ad­vice to Thai­land, a coun­try which he loves, is to stop box­ers from can­ning their weights and re­duc­ing ex­tra pounds and ounces dras­ti­cally.

There are many abuses they go through in or­der to make weight as a re­sult they cause tremen­dous dam­age to their bod­ies. Many of them will look old long be­fore their age and don’t en­ter the ring for fights with their full strength. This is the big­gest prob­lem fac­ing Thai­land.

Pro­mot­ers should al­low their fight­ers to go up in weight, in­stead of can­ning their fight­ers and mak­ing them de­fend ti­tles in the same weight. This is the big­gest prob­lem which hurts box­ing in the King­dom, he added.

Sa­ha­somb­hop Sri­somvongse

Saen­sak Muang­surin

Eng­land's Charles Atkin­son and Sot Chi­ta­l­ada.

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