While he may not sport an eye-patch in real life, ex-Muay Thai champion Sagat Petchyindee is as cool as his in-game Street Fighter counterpart.
Born Wiroon Polpimai, Petchyindee came to be known by his current moniker in 1973 — his nickname of “Sagat” (“to intercept” in Thai) was actually given to him by his father, while his surname comes from the gym wherehe trained in his youth.
Coming from a family of champions, Petchyindee started training in Muay Thai at 11, and sports an impressive record of over 317 bouts, with 266 wins, 11 draws and 11 titles. He’s also won 151 of his bouts by knock out. Fun fact: He’s also tried his hand at boxing, winning 12 of his 14 matches.
While Capcom has not officially acknowledged that Sagat’s based on Petchyindee, the character’s first appearance was in 1987 Street Fighter as a non-playable boss, before becoming usable in 1992’s Street Fighter II: Champion Edition.
Given that Petchyindee has competed in Japan before, and that there weren’t any other athletes called Sagat as well during that period, it’s likely the game developers may have derived inspiration from Petchyindee.
While Sagat doesn’t look anything like Petchyindee in his youth — he had a full head of hair — the 61-year old athlete now sports a similar shaven look like the character.
He currently trains other Muay Thai athletes, though his journey to a trainer has had plenty of downs — he was arrested for various drug offenses, before finally putting his life on track and credits training others for helping to turn his life around.
While he did consider suing Capcom for using his likeness and royalties, he decided against it due to the time and money he would spend. Instead, these days, Petchyindee has embraced Sagat, and even has a business card with the Street Fighter character’s picture on it.