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Ruenroeng: "I want to beat Ioka and look for the fight with Zou"

Photo © Johnny Komsan
Photo © Johnny Komsan

By Anson Wainwright

In 2006 Amnat Ruenroeng went to jail for the third time, sentenced to fifteen years for committing Robbery. Boxing proved an unlikely salvation for the Thai boxer. He took part in the prison boxing programme which saw him win the national title the following year.

After the victory Ruenroeng was released from prison for good behaviour. He would go on to represent his country at the 2008 Olympics.

The second-grade dropout and former drug addict freely admits "I should still be in jail."

Earlier this year he completed his Cinderella story outpointing reigning OPBF champion Rocky Fuentes by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice, to win the vacant IBF flyweight title, improving to 12-0 with 5 knock outs in the process.

A week before his bout with Fuentes Ruenroeng was scheduled to meet then holder Moruti Mthalane. However the chronically inactive South African champion elected at the last minute to vacate the crown clearing the way for promoter Jimmy Chaichotchuang to hastily arrange for Fuentes to meet his charge.

“I do not know why Mthalane vacated (the) title a week before a fight. Mthalane had signed the contract to defend his title in Thailand.” Chaichotchuang told RINGTV “I found Fuentes who was ready to fight in Thailand and save the fight. I would like to thank the IBF for their good support and my boxing friends around the world. I am a very lucky person in that regard.”
Tomorrow Amnat will be looking to make the first defense of his title when he meets Japanese superstar Kazuto Ioka who will be looking to become a three-weight world champion.

The unlikely roll model turned 34 in December became the first IBF champion Thailand had produced in 16 years.

Anson Wainwright - Firstly can I congratulate you on your terrific world title win. Can you tell us about the fight?
Amnat Ruenroeng‏ - Fuentes has a strong punch. I knew I couldn’t win by knock out. I used my boxing skills to outbox Fuentes in every round. Fuentes is the hardest opponent I have met.
AW - You’re fighting Kazuto Ioka in Osaka, Japan in your first defense, what are your thoughts on Ioka?

AR - Ioka has an unbeaten record and two-weight division champion. He want’s to fight me because he think’s he will be a three-weight champion. I think it will not happen because I do not come to lose in Japan. I want to beat Ioka and look for the fight with Zou Shiming in late 2014.

AW - What does winning the IBF title mean to you?

AR - It will change my life because I brought the IBF title back to Thailand. Thai people will support me to defend my title.

AW - A week before ago you were due to challenge Moruti Mthalane for his IBF 112-pound title, he vacated and you met Rocky Fuentes instead for the vacant title. Did this affect you at all?

AR - Yes, I prepared for many months to fight Mthalane. However, I am ready to face Fuentes.

AW - Fighting Fuenteswas a very big step up from the fighters you’ve fought previously, can you tell us how you’ve prepared for the fight?

AR - I trained hard for more than 2 months to fulfil my dream to become the world champion. I train with my team Mike Tawatchai IBF#12 (super bantamweight 32-7-1(21)), Patomsuk Pathompothong IBF#14 (jnr. welterweight 26-2-1(17)), Rusalee Samor IBF#15 (super flyweight 21-5-2(10)) and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. IBF#7 (jnr. Flyweight 23-2(15)).

I trained hard with Francisco Warren, my coach, who comes from Philippines. I’ve learned a lot of technique and developed my boxing skills. We do about 1 hour for running every morning. In the afternoon, we do a sparring with my good friends including mitt work, heavy bag and exercise.

AW - Many Thai boxers have previous Muay Thai backgrounds, did you?
AR - I was the Muay Thai boxer since I was 12 years old. I was Muay Thai champion. After that I was amateur national (boxing) team. I got the silver medal for Thailand in amateur championship, Bronze in Asian Games and Gold medal in South East Asian Games. I was an Olympian in 2008.

AW - Your life before boxing was very eventful, could you tell us about what happened altogether?

AR - I was the kid in the street. I never knew who my father is. My mother never told me. I live by fighting.

My life is boxing and boxing. I was a street fighter. I grew up on the streets and fighting for living. I could not go to school because our family are very poor. Muay Thai changed my life. I can help my family to fight in Muay Thai and I become the Muaythai champion.

I lost to the champion later and had no money to save my family. I did the robbery and went to the jail. I do not know the lawyer. I think my life is finished in jail. (But I was) very lucky, the jail has in first year of a boxing project for prisoners to participate in national amateur tournament. I learned amateur boxing in jail. I won all (my) fights and become national amateur champion.
After I got out on jail. I represented (the) Thailand team and fight in my first international tournament "King’s Cup". I beat Zou
Shiming who is high profile boxer. Before the fight, my team do not expect me to beat Zou Shiming because I am a replacement boxer but I did it.
AW - Could you tell us about when you beat Zou Shiming?
AR - I beat Zou Shiming in (the) 2007 King’s Cup international amateur boxing tournament in Thailand.

China, who arrived in Bangkok, are led by light-flyweight Zou Shiming, the reigning World and Asian Games champion who won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. (Shiming would go on to win gold the 2008 & 2012 Olympics).

Zou outclassed Thailand’s Suban Pannon in the 48kg final at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar in December. The Chinese aims to become his country’s first-ever Olympic boxing champion at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Suban wanted to avenge his defeat against Zou but got injured in training. He was ruled out of the King’s Cup and replaced by me from the B squad.

I lost to Zou Shiming in 2010 in Asian Games in China in final. I believe I should won that fight and beat him very clearly. Zou Shiming get the gold medal, I got silver medal.

AW - So boxing really did save your life?

AR - I was proud to be the Thailand national team and fight for Thailand Team…I make wrong life and go to Jail. My life should be end in the jail. But, I am very lucky that boxing give another chance. I beat other amateur boxer in Thailand and beat Zou Shiming in my first international amateur fight. They known I was good in Amateur boxing.

AW - Going from jail to representing your country at the 2008 Olympics is a huge step, it must have felt like a dream?

AR - I work hard to get Medallist in 2008. The judge is not fair. I am sure to beat Zou Shiming in Olympic 2008.

AW - After the Olympics you decided to turn pro at the rather advanced age of 32? Why did you decide to turn pro and not stay an amateur?

AR - I want to fight at the 2012 Olympics. They choose another boxer. I miss my dream and go to boxing. I fight for Thailand again in professional boxing. I want Thai people happy to see Thai Flag in the ring again.

AW - What is your life like now?

AR - I am married and have one son as 5 years old. I love my boy. I want him to be getting highest education.

AW - In closing do you have a message for the boxing world?

AR - I am willing to defend my IBF belt in Thailand and outside (Thailand). I want to do my best for my family and make a good foundation for my son.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at

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