When it comes to legends in Muay Thai, one that often gets overlooked for his greatness is Diesel Noi Chor Thanasukarn. Arguably the most feared Muay Khao style fighter of his generation, his remarkable prowess earned him the moniker of the ‘Sky Piercing Knee’. For a bantamweight fighter, Dieselnoi was remarkably tall standing in at 188 cm!
Through his legendary career, Dieselnoi held a record of 110-4-5, earning him a win rate of 93% and among them were wins over fighters that many consider to be the greatest of all times. Let’s take a detailed look at not only the career of Dieselnoi but his early life as well to get an understanding of how he became on the most feared muay thai fighters of all time!
Charin Sorndee was born on 16 December 1961 in Tambon Huakoon, in the Nakhon Luang region of Ayutthaya province. He was youngest child of the Sorndee family and grew up with a big brother and an older sister.
Many of the greatest muay thai fighters of all time come from very humble beginnings. Dieslnoi is no different. His parents were shopkeers on merchant ships, they’d sell charcoal. One of the most interesting stories about Charin’s early life was that he was practically born on a boat.
His mother went into labor while the family was sailing the Pasak river, she was taken to the hospital on the rowboat. However, as she reached the Hua Ro dock, she gave birth to her child right there.
The Sorndee family didn’t have a lot of money but they weren’t under the poverty line like many families at the time in the central region of Thailand. Dieselnoi started fighting young like most boys in thailand, but fighting wasn’t his only option.
His father and older brother loved Muay Thai, so Charin had two options. Either become a monk or be a muay thai fighter. Charin figured that dealing with ghosts is scarier than dealing with humans, so he decided on becoming a thai boxer!
Charin’s first trainer was his older brother, Sunan Sorndee. From an early age, Sunan set a very high standard for his younger brother. They trained hard and pushed themselves a bit to far. Due to the hard training, Dieselnoi had a tear in his spleen and had to be hospitalized.
He took the next step in his career after his family relocated to the Trat region. There Charin and his brother went to the Sor Banjongsak camp which was ran by Khru Banjong. That’s where Charin first took the name of “Dieselnoi Sor Banjongsak”.
Start of his fighting career
Dieselnoi had his first fight at the age of 13 with this camp. He won his first fight with a KO and made around 50 baht at the time. But the stay wasn’t for long and his older brother was on the move again. This time they made the move to Chonburi, and Dieselnoi joined the Sor Worakulchai camp of Master Boonlert Sriworakul. Thus he changed his name to Dieselnoi Sor Worakulchai.
Through a combination of talent, size, hardwork, and dedication, Dieselnoi went undefeated through regions of Chonburi, Rayong, and Trat. He went through his first 20 fights without any defeat, and people were starting to talk about the tall fighter with devastating knees.
At the young age of 15, Dieselnoi was already starting to generate a bit of a buzz and went to the Sor Sirinan camp in Bangkok. However, he only stayed for a year before moving to the Sor Thanikul Gym run by Kleo Thanikul.
While at this gym, he fought under the alias of “Dieselnoi Sor Thanikul”. The gym was relatively new and opening in 1977 with Dieselnoi being one of the first champions. It was here that you can argue that Dieselnoi developed his skills the most. He fought under the camp banners for five years, and was part of a group that included Sombat, Samingnoi, Banklanoi, Lom Isaan, Youssop, and many other exceptional Muay Thai fighters.
Diselnoi ended up in the Ha Phalan Gym and that’s where he ended his career. He was part of the team along with two stars Chamophet Ha Phalang (5 belts from Radja, 4 from Lumpinee, Best boxer of the year 1985) and Panomtuanglek Ha Phalang (Champion of Radja in 118lbs and in 115lbs, Lumpinee Champion in 122lbs, Best boxer of the year 1986).
His career was among the most successful of all time and along with Samart, Dieselnoi is among the defining fighters of his era. He was a rarity in Thailand due to his height of almost one meter ninety. However, standing around 6’2 and weighing only 60kg, Dieselnoi is a rarity anywhere in the world.
His mastery with the use of knees led to the thai’s giving him the nickname “Khun Khao Talufaa” (The sky piercing knee kicker). Dieslnoi’s proficiency with Muay Khru style of fighting was exceptional. Even though his physical advantages were significant, his technique and willingness to train is what set him apart.
To the outside eye, Dieselnoi’s height and reach may seem like a significant advantage. However, when that becomes bound by a weight class it become more challenging to navigate as well.
Fighting in the 70s
Dieselnoi fought at the Radja stadium for the first time in 1976 when he was 15 years old. He faced and defeated Fanoy Saksaendee. He continued to win all his fights in 1976 and manage to notch over wins over notable names like Pennoi Sakornpitak, Dechai Koyrungruaang, and Supernoi Kiatchainarong.
The year 1977 continued much in the same manner, Dieselnoi remained undefeated winning all eight of his fights. When has 16 year old, Dieselnoi was matched up against the famous champion Daotong Sityodtong, with many thinking that he’d end up losing. However, it was Dieselnoi who came out with his hand raised.
After defeating all that were put in front of him, Dieselnoi put on weight and fought at both 126lbs, and at 130lbs! He fought at the Ratchadamnoen stadium and won six out of his seven bouts. His only loss came against the legend Vicharnoi Porntawee on a points decision.
Vicharnoi is also a legend in his own right with the nickname “The Immortal”, and was champion of Lumpinee 112lbs, and champion of Radja in both 112lbs and 130lbs. The fight itself was spectacular but Vicharnoi managed to neutralize Dieselnoi’s knees and win the bout.
After his loss, Dieselnoi took two months off and beat Narongoi Keatbandit. Narongoi was the Radja 126lb and 130lb champion at the time. Once he became champion, he rematched Vicharnoi at the age of 18, but alas Dieselnoi lost again to Vicharnoi on points.
His next opponent of the year was Padetsuk Pisanurachan. Padetsuk was a big puncher and was the Radja boxing champion. Dieselnoi would end up losing the fight after Padetsuk opened up a cut on his forehead. While the cut wasn’t too massive, it bled a lot which ended up causing referee to call a doctor stoppage, resulting in a loss for Dieselnoi.
While a lesser fighter might let the loss get to his head, Dieselnoi was ready to face his next opponent Kaosad Sitprapom. He won the fight in a beautiful and elegant manner. In his next fight however, Dieselnoi faced one of his worst outcomes.
Prawit Sritham was on a four fight win streak and gave Dieselnoi a really tough fight. At the end of the match his right eye was completely closed shut and he lost the fight on points. In Dieselnoi’s defense though, he couldn’t train properly for this fight due to injuries.
However, life wasn’t about to get any easier for Dieselnoi and a stern test was waiting in the wings. Posai Sitboonlert (23 years) at the time was arguably viewed as the strongest Muay Khao fighter. He even earned the nickname “Electric Pole Knee Striker”.
Like Dieselnoi, Posai was also significantly taller than the average thai fighter and used his knee style to devastate opponents. The fight was exactly what the people wanted and more. Dieselnoi earning the victory on points, even though he was suffering from an infection.
Fighting in the 80s
At the start of 1980, Dieselnoi managed to finally get revenge for the two losses Vicharnoi Porntawee had dealt him. He finally managed to get the win on points and avenge his previous loss against “The Immortal”!
He didn’t stop there, in his quest for dominance Dieselnoi also went up against Pennoi Sakornpitak, who also had the nickname “Thephabut Muslim”. In their four encounters, Dieselnoi ended up coming out on top in all four.
Another iconic Dieselnoi match was his bout against Kaopong Sitichuchai with the name of “The Black Cotton”. Kaopong was a formidable puncher, and even managed to earn a silver medal in boxing during the 1984 olympics
In the first match, Dieselnoi came on top with the use of his devastating knees and knocked out Kaopong in the third! However, in the rematch Kaopong KO’d Dieselnoi in the second round. This being the only time in his career he suffered a KO loss.
Another big year for the muay khao assassin was 1981! He won the Lumpinee belt and in the process beat big fighters like Raktae and Pennoi. Given the nature of his fights with Kaopong, it was inevitable that they would meet in the ring again.
The rematched for the 135lbs championship in the Lumpinee stadium and the encounter didn’t disappoint. Both the warriors left it all in the ring and in the end it was Dieselnoi who won the match on points.
Dieselnoi’s next fight was on the 26th of March in the Radja stadium. He was challenging the defending champion, Raktae Muangsurin. The match was a battle between the champion of Radja stadium and Lumpinee stadium.
Raktae was a ferocious fighter at the time and his punching prowess earning him the nick “Ay Mat Narok Tek” which translates to the punch of the infernal earthquake. In his fight record up till now, Raktae had knocked out several previous champions. This was another Dieselnoi spectacle and he won the fight on point.
After dominating so heavily in Muay Thai, Dieselnoi wanted to switch to Boxing. Unlike the trend in Boxing, Dieselnoi went straight up against the powerful Saengsakda Kitikasem. His first fight didn’t go to plan however, and Dieselnoi ended up losing by knock out in the second round. He won his second fight in Boxing on points though and decided that the sport wasn’t for him.
In his last fight of 1981, he fought against Pennoi Sakornpitak and won again on points.
This led into what many argue is Dieslnoi’s greatest year in his long fight career, 1982. His first glory of the year came on April 28. A grand Muay Thai event was organized on the anniversary of the bicentenary of Rattanakosin.
The event saw a delegation of Japanese Champions invited to fight against the Thai team. There were in total eight WFMA World Champion belts on the line and the event took place in the Ratchadamoen stadium.
Of the eight titles that were on the line, seven went to Thai champions, the lone belt won by a Japanese fighter against a South Korean champion. Dieselnoi fought for the 135 lbs champion belt against Japanese challenger Shinobu Onuki. He knocked out Shinobu in the second round with a knee to the face.
It was round about this time that Dieselnoi started suffering from long periods of inactivity. Not because of any lack of desire to fight on his own behalf, but it was becoming increasingly challenging to find willing competitors.
But finally, he’d take on the man who is considered by many to be the greatest muay thai fighter of all time, Samart Payakroon. You can watch the match on the muay thai library. Current female muay thai fighter Sylvie von douglas has done a brilliant job collecting these lost snippets of muay thai history.
The match was organized by Kleo Thanikul and Songchai Ratanasuban. It was promoted heavily in the city of Bangkok as a fight between the two greatest champions. A week before the fight, two giant giant photos coming at 10 meters high were displayed outside the entrance of the Radja stadium.
At the time of their fight, Samart had won the prestigious boxer of the year in 1981 and was considered by many as the greatest of all time. Samart was the reigning Lumpinee 126 lbs champion and Dieselnoi held the 135 lbs belt. The bout between the two was going to be held at 130 lbs.
Even though Samart was deemed to be the favorite, Dieselnoi himself knew that as long as he made weight he had a good chance against Samart. Many people thought that Dieselnoi would struggle to be between the limit, but he actually weighed in 129.7 lbs. On the other hand, Samart weighed in at 132.
The fight between these two powerhouses completely packed out the Radja stadium and the tension in the air was palpable. It was also the most tense Dieselnoi has been during a fight because Samart was his friend. In his own words, after the first two rounds it became very clear that he was going to win. He could’ve even gone for the KO if Samart wasn’t his friend.
He won the fight on points, while winning the best fight of the year award in 1982. They also got two of the largest purses in muay thai during the 80s, with Dieselnoi earning around 400,000 baht!
After defeating Samart, there wasn’t much left to do for Dieselnoi and nobody wanted to fight him. He went a whole year without finding an opponent. After being inactive for a year, Dieselnoi was presented a fight against Sagat Petchyindee.
Sagat at the time was Radja champion across three divisions and was also a successful boxer. Dieselnoi faced Sagat on the 7th of June and came out victorious on points. He had beaten another contender that many consider to be among the greatest of all time.
Dieselnoi didn’t stop there. On the 14th of july 1984, he went to the United States with a delegation of Thai champions to challenge the American kick boxing champions. Dieselnoi ended up fighting against local champion John Moncayo. Even though the american had a 5 kg weight advantage, Dieselnoi ended the fight in the third round after hitting him with his legendary knees.
After his victory overseas, it was time for a rematch with the legendary Sagat Petchyindee. The fight finished again with Dieselnoi coming on top on points. His victory was followed by another period of inactivity as he couldn’t find an opponent for seven months.
It wasn’t until August 1985 that the technician Krongsak Boranrat agreed to fight Dieselnoi. At that time, Krongsak was ranked as the number one fighter in both the Lumpinee stadium and Radja stadium.
His fight against Krongsak is remembered as one of the most violent fights of all time. It was so fiercely contested that the judges decided to declare it as a draw. Albeit, many of the punters were angry because they believed Krongsak won the fight.
Their rematch was scheduled for the 12th of November. However, the rematch wasn’t close at all and Dieselnoi took the match on points. This would prove the last fight of Dieselnoi’s legendary career. He would retire at the age of 25 due to no one being willing to fight him in the ring.
Throughout his legendar career, Dieselnoi defeated the greatest champions and devastated all with his lethal knee strikes. Some that people considered the greatest of all time, Dieselnoi didn’t beat them just once but did the honor of beating them twice. There’s no denying the fact that when discussing the greatest muay thai fighters of all time, the name Dieselnoi simply can’t be ignored.
Nowadays Dieselnoi lives a relatively more peaceful life. After his immediate retirement, he spent several years as a monk. Then he relocated to Japan along with his friend Chamophet to become a muay thai instructor.
Today, Dieselnoi resides in his home country of Thailand. He’s training the next generation of Muay Thai fighters and helping them become more proficient in the art of Muay khru. While all these years might have passed, Dieselnoi’s enthusiasm and thirst for fighting remains as alive as ever!