Muay Thai fighter Nong Rose Bancharoensuk has always felt like a woman and it shows both in and out of the ring.
With over 150 wins the 21-year-old trans woman was finally allowed to fight a major bout after a prohibition was dropped banning sports bras and long hair in the ring. Nong Rose had already made a name for herself in rural bouts but until this summer her gender expression kept her from a championship match.
Currently, women aren’t allowed to even touch the ring and Thai trans people aren’t allowed to correct their documents but with a proposal allowing gender marker corrections, that may change too.
Muay Thai Citizen reports June this year, Muay Thai’s most influential promoter, Songchai Ratanasuban overturned decades of strict dress code rules enforced at Rajadamnern Stadium that forbid wearing sports bra or sporting long hair. The move paved the way for Nong Rose Bancharoensuk to make her debut at the historic stadium on 7th June. The first-ever transgender fighter to ever step into ring of the revered arena and as a headlining bout, no less. Next thing you know, Nong Rose won the fight and her name became plastered all over the media.
In her first fight at Rajadamnern Stadium, the crowd cheered every strike Nong Rose made.
After two more wins at Rajadamnern Stadium Nong Rose is set to become the first ever trans Muay Thai to fight in France.
“Being a transgender doesn’t mean that we’re weak,” Rose said after the fight. “We can achieve anything as well.”
“Beautiful Boxer” is in her corner.
Nong Rose is not the first transgender boxer in Thailand.
Nong Toom, whose story is captured in the 2004 film “Beautiful Boxer”, led the way, famously using her championship winnings to pay for a sex change.
“She was my role model,” said Nong Rose, adding that the fighter comes to support her at most matches.
For the up-and-coming boxer, the Paris competition on January 6, against formidable French Muay Thai champion Akram Hamidi, is a chance to advance her career — and bring more attention to trans fighters.
“It helps to promote the trans, to show that we are worth as much as the others. We are not weak,” she said.
Nong Rose says she plans to take her transition to the next step after her boxing days are over.
“Today, I do not take hormones because it affects my condition and my boxing. When you are on hormones, you have much less energy.”
“But as soon as I stop boxing, I do all the operations to finish my transformation.”