Guest post by Evolve MMA, Asia’s premier championship brand for martial arts. It has the most number of World Champions on the planet. Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia by CNN, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, Evolve MMA is the top rated Muay Thai gym in Singapore.
Outside Thailand, there may not be a country that’s more obsessed with Muay Thai than Australia.
There’s a long list of fan-favorites who come from the land Down Under, as well as a host of athletes that have become World Champions.
A rundown of the best Aussie Muay Thai fighters could go on for several pages, so we selected just five of the elite who are considered all-time greats.
John Wayne Parr
No one else but John Wayne Parr could be first on this list.
“The Gunslinger” is Muay Thai – not just in Australia, but in pretty much every country outside the sport’s homeland. He’s seen and done it all in a 25-year career, and he is still going strong to this day.
Wayne Parr had his first pro bout when he was 16 in his motherland, but the legend of “John Wayne” took off when he went to live and train among Thai athletes.
He became a fan-favorite in The Land Of Smiles for his all-action style on the biggest stages – from Lumpinee Stadium to the iconic King’s Birthday events in front of huge crowds of up to one hundred thousand.
It was at one of these events that Parr had his finest hour, a war with Orono Por Muang Ubon, which earned him just one of the many belts he collected in his career, the IMF Middleweight World Title.
Parr is also known to casual fans thanks to his appearances on The Contender Asia, which was a breakthrough moment for Muay Thai.
Although he went on to lose the competition’s final against Yodsanklai Fairtex, he finally got a win over the Thai legend a few years later.
Combined with his legendary rivalries with the likes of Cosmo Alexandre, Daniel Dawson, and Mike Zambidis, few athletes can boast a record so full of must-see fights.
One look at Nathan Corbett’s résumé tells you why he’s one of Muay Thai’s greats.
With a record of 59-5 (1NC), 11 World Titles to his name, and status as one of the founding members of the WBC Muay Thai Hall Of Fame, his legacy is secure.
Once you take a look at his fights, it’s easy to see how he hit these heights.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to step into the ring with “Carnage” after one look at his highlight reel.
Corbett was more than 200lb of pure power who earned his “Golden Elbows” moniker due to his habit of scoring some of those finishes with some stunning strikes.
They were far from his only weapons, however. He was almost as likely to put his opponents on the floor with his hands, legs, and knees, too.
Overall, he claimed 44 wins by knockout for a staggering 75% KO rate that is almost unheard of in the art of eight limbs.
With an alias like “The Smashing Machine”, you might assume Steve McKinnon would have a record filled with knockout wins.
You wouldn’t be wrong.
Most of his fights ended with him winning by stoppage, and his greatest hits include a selection of spectacular head kicks.
That’s not all. McKinnon had a full complement of skills for the art of eight limbs, and his aggression made him one of the most entertaining draws anywhere in the world.
Plus, McKinnon has the hardware to validate everything he did under the lights. He was the first WBC Muaythai World Super Cruiserweight Champion and held the belt for 3,151 days.
That helped make him one of three Aussies to be part of the organization’s founding Hall Of Fame class.
Despite not competing in Muay Thai until she was 25, Caley Reece has achieved more than most.
After a distinguished amateur career, she put together a near-flawless pro run that saw her beat some of the best competitors of her era and claim some of her sport’s biggest prizes.
Reece ran out of body parts to wrap her belts around following her capture of the WPMF World Title and WMC World Championships in two divisions – along with a collection of other domestic and continental prizes.
She also beat fellow Aussie and WBC Muay Thai Hall of Famer Tiana Caverley along the way, and retired on top after defending her belt against multiple-time Muay Thai and kickboxing World Champion, Meryem Uslu.
However, that was not the end for Reece. She was tempted back into the ring within a year and authored some of her greatest achievements before hanging her gloves up for gloves.
Following a win against Tiffany van Soest to steal the Lion Fight strap, she defended her WMC featherweight crown against Chommanee Sor Taehiran to end her career on top.
Combat sports purists will tell you that you can measure a fighter’s greatness by looking at who they fought and who they beat.
Take one look at Toby “The Weapon” Smith’s record, and it’s a wonder he’s not a household name.
The young Aussie’s list of victims is incredible who’s who of elite champions and pound-for-pound greats from Thailand.
They include Thongchai Sitsongpeenong, Diesellek TopkingBoxing, Superbon Banchamek, and Petchtanong Banchamek.
He’s also beaten some of the best from his homeland, including Charlie Bubb, Elliot Compton, and John Wayne Parr.
The latter victory was particularly impressive, as he employed some phenomenal clinch skills to overpower “The Gunslinger” and win the WKN World Title.
Interestingly, he also contributed to Muay Thai in Singapore by training with their national team in 2018.
Smith is still only 27, so there could still be a lot more to come from him, definitely one to watch.