Thai boxing champion fights blindness for glory

Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:33am EST
 
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By Sinthana Kosolpradit and Prapan Chankaew

SURIN, Thailand (Reuters Life!) - Sujet Salee is a Thai boxing champion with an impressive fight record, but the 29-year-old also stands out among his peers for another reason: he's blind.

Sujet, who was born blind, has won five consecutive matches and drew once since he has started his boxing career in October 2008 against opponents who are blindfolded during fights. Prize money for each match he won has been 1,500 baht ($46).

Sujet, who is Thailand's most famous blind boxer, trains six days a week for several hours, the same routine as other boxers in Por Cherdchai boxing camp in Surin province, 457 kms (284 miles) northeast of Bangkok. But he is the only one that can't see his opponents.

He said he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, a boxer who died five years ago.

"When I was young my father was a boxer, but none of my brothers took boxing as a career. I wanted to be a boxer like my father, but I'm blind, I didn't think I can do it. But I made up my mind," said Sujet.

Sujet's career choice is unusual compared to most other blind people in Thailand who work as masseurs, make handicrafts or sell lottery tickets.

Sujet said he had also enrolled for a massage course but turned it down because it did not inspire him. He said his body is more into boxing.

"I will do my best as my body allows me to do, to find out where is the top of this career for me," he added.   Continued...

 
<p>Blind boxer Sujet Salee, 29, poses at his boxing camp in Surin province, 457 km (283 miles) northeast of Bangkok, February 12, 2010. Sujet, who was blind at birth, earns about 1,500 baht ($45) per match. The boxer does not think that blindness is a handicap and he has proved just that by winning several matches against blindfolded opponents. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang</p>