Sunday, May 3, 2020: Lumpinee champion. Rajadamnern champion. Omnoi champion. An incredible feat to capture three of the most elite championship titles in the sport of MuayThai, an accomplishment that has been achieved by one man, only. That man is Youssef Boughanem. This week, SiamFightNews celebrates the career - thus far - of the fighter nicknamed 'The Terminator' a moniker well earned if you have witnessed any of the over two hundred professional MuayThai contests he has partook in.
Let's take a look at the road to glory which has made Youssef one of the most celebrated and recognizable MuayThai fighters on the planet. That road was not always paved with gold but due to a stubbornness of grit, hard work and unwavering perseverance he has scored that ilustrious pot of gold at the end of the MuayThai rainbow.
The first of Youssef's elite stadium championship victory's was the Omnoi stadium middleweight title where he became the first westerner to capture an Omnoi title. Youssef first caught the eye of the Omnoi stadium ranking committee when he made his debut at the stadium, back in 2012.
He clashed with Dernchonlek Sor-Sor Niyom in what turned out to be: 'fight of the day.' It was this particular performance and of course the performances to follow that would help pave the way for Youssef to face off against a heavily favored Rungrawee PK Saenchai for the Omnoi 160 pound title, on Saturday the 15th of August, 2015.
The Terminator came, saw and conquered Rungrawee, winning the fight via a devastating 3rd round elbow knockout. Job done. The first of his elite stadium championship belts was wrapped around his waist. Now on to continue building the Boughanem legacy.
No rest for the wicked, as just a month later Youssef accepted an unusual request to defend his title within such a short period of time. This time it was another PK Saenchai gym based fighter, Chanajon PK Saenchai, who would look to dethrone the newly crowned champion. That did not happen as Youssef mastered the former Isuzu tournament winner and former Rajadamnern champion over five rounds, winning the contest via a unanimous points decision, with all three judges scoring the bout 49-48 to the reigning champion.
Youssef's journey with ThaiFight began back in 2009 when he took part in the organizations welterweight tournament, where he finished as runner up in the 8-man tournament. He again was involved in the 2013 Thai Fight 16-man tournament where he would fall short at the semifinal stage to Thailand's Saiyok Pumpanmuang.
The year 2015 was to be his year of crowning glory on the ThaiFight platform as he beat Russia's Yuir Davtyan, his old for Rungrawee PK Saenchai and scored a sensational victory in the final of the ThaiFight tournament over Sudsakorn For Klinmee to become the new ThaiFight middleweight champion.
Youssef went to on to have eight more fights under the ThaiFight banner, winning all eight, beating elite fighters from around Thailand and the world, ending his ThaiFight career on an absolute high.
The year 2009 was when Youssef made his debut at the most famed and storied stadium (still in existence) in the sport of MuayThai. He scored a points victory over Chokchai Sor Kingstar on a Wednesday night show at the stadium.
Thailand's Kompetchlek Lukprabat, the then reigning middleweight champion of the stadium defended his coveted title against Youssef in August, 2016, in a contest where the Belgian/Morrocoan ended Kompetchlek's reign with a ferocious barrage of all eight weapons in the midst of the 4th round, in doing so, he became the new middleweight champion of Rajadamnern Stadium.
One of the most exciting fights that Youssef has starred in throughout his storied career was the 'battle of Rajadamnern,' in 2017, when he clashed with Yodpayak Sitsongpeenong. Youssef somehow survived a wild onslaught from the Sitsongpeenong fighter, and the eight count which was resultant from a perfectly-timed head kick. Youssef went on to give Yodpayak a lesson in how to properly finish a fighter.....that climax came in the midst of a heated fifth and final round when the referee stepped in save Yodpayak from any further punishment.
The Boughanem success train was again in action at Rajadamnern Stadium on February 26th, 2018, in front of a packed house where he made his first and only defense of his Rajadamnern title against Noppakao SirilukMuayThai. He put in an unstoppable performance giving Noppakao little or time to plot a path to victory in the contest, eventually making his submit in the midst of the 3rd round.
The ranking committee at Bangkok's Lumpinee stadium take into account the results of fighters fighting on the overall Thai elite fight circuit when amusing the rankings at the stadium, not only taking into account fights at Lumpinee. This is actually the case with all the major stadiums in Thailand. The contest for this paragraph is to explain why Youssef got his shot at Lumpinee glory having never previously fought at the stadium.
Youssef got a call in the early part of 2018 to inform him that the stadium had mandated that he should face off against Talaytong Sor Thanapetch for the stadiums vacant middleweight title. Challenge accepted. Youssef and his team teamed up, once again, with Phoenix Fighting Championship and Lumpinee stadium promoter, Numnoi, to put on the championship title as the headliner for a joint promotion at the stadium, on Tuesday the 22nd of May.
The fight itself witnessed a gallant Talaytong look to keep the title in Thai hands. Youssef had other plans and executed them to near perfection as he systematically broke Talaytong down over three and half rounds. The referee called a halt to the contest in the 4th round after Youssef landed a host of thunderous knees and elbows to force the him to intervene on Talaytong's behalf.
The dream to capture all three available middleweight elite Thai stadium titles was complete. The only missing piece of the jigsaw, Lumpinee, was now safe and secure around Youssef's waist.
Youssef began his on-going love affair with the allure of green and gold in that aforementioned contest with Noppakao, when he captured the WBC MuayThai middleweight world title against the, at the time #4 ranked middleweight.
Later that year Youssef made the first defense of his WBC world title against another son of the Kingdom of Thailand, this time it was Kongjak Por-Pao-in who would face off against the indomitable champion. The contest took place in the European city of Brussels, in front of sell-out crowd. Youssef put on a gritty display to outgun and outwit his Thai foe, to successfully defend his championship title.
On to April 2019, again in Brussels, it was England's Joe Craven who would stare down the barrel of Youssef's gun, in his quest to force the champion to shoot blanks. However, it was not to be as the champion unloaded his elite arsenal on the fearless Craven, forcing him to surrender in the 4th round.
Sweden's Tobias Alexandersson was next in line to challenge the champion for his highly-coveted WBC MuayThai world title when they collided in November of 2019. Brussels was again the location for their championship encounter. Tobias went into the contest as multi-time former super-middleweight world champion, posing a serious threat to the reign of the WBC champion. They fought tooth and nail over five rounds with the champion prevailing to once again retain his WBC MuayThai world title.
THE THOUGHTS OF SFN
I first met Youssef around 11-years ago at Bangkok's Kiatpetch gym. He was a shy, reserved character. One of the things that most stood out about him was his concentrated drive and doggedness to train hard. My first time seeing him fight in the flesh (I had seen him on the Toyota marathon on TV) was in 2010, at Bangkok's iconic Channel7 stadium, on a bright and hot Sunday afternoon where he faced off against Thailand's Thepsutin Pumpanmuang. It was evident, from early on in his career, he would go on to great things in the sport, but no one could have foresaw how accomplished he would become.
The facts about Youssef are simple. He will go down as one of the greatest and most decorated elite MuayThai middleweights the sport of MuayThai has and will ever see. His achievements in the sport have been stunning. A guy who arrived here in the Kingdom of Thailand with not much to his name has gone on to build a successful life, both inside and outside the ring, owning a gym, owning a MuayThai equipment brand and of course owning a host of elite championship titles which ultimately cemented his legacy as one of the cream of the crop in the sport.