The Early Life Of Jongsanan "Woodenman"
Anucha Chaiyasen, who is now known as Jongsanan "The Woodenman", was born July 24, 1974 just outside of Chaiyaphum, Northern Thailand. His childhood was one of poverty where he had to dig holes to use as toilets and brush his teeth with charcoal and salt.
Even though he was raised in a farming community, he hated farming. He also did not do well in school. But one thing he did love was a tradition he and his great grand father had when he was 7 years old where they would find the local television and watch his favorite fighter Salakjit, so he told his parents he wanted to be a fighter.
A Fighter Is Born
His father put him into fights at street fairs, bet on him to make money, and he became a home town hero (by the 7th grade he was 16-1), but because he had no formal training, no big schools would take him in. So, his friend's uncle Paiboon, a famous fighter at that time, used favors and connections to get Jongsanan into a school called Fairtex, where he worked as a janitor, laundryman, and spit boy for over 5 months.
At first, no one at the school would train him. They looked at him as a ghetto country boy with no skills. Then there was an event a the Fairtex school where a fighter came in sick and couldn't fight. Jongsanan was the same weight as the fighter, so he was given some shorts to put on and told that he would lose.
Jongsanan destroyed the guy.
Because of this fight, a muay thai coach named Monlit Sitphodaeng took notice, and this is when Jongsanan began formal training.
A Fighter On The Rise... And Fall
Once Jongsanan started training with Monlit he skyrocketed in popularity. He won a lot of fights, and his fight earnings were uncommonly high. He went from a life of poverty to a life of celebrity, women, entourages, and wealth almost overnight, distracting him from his training. He started sneaking out of training to drink at night, and aside from the money he sent to his family, he spent his money as quickly as he earned it. Then, when he got knocked out in a huge upset fight, people and publications accused him of throwing the fight. He hadn't thrown the fight. He was devastated.
This marked the beginning of the end for Jongsanan's career in Thailand.
Time For A Change... And New Success
After some lukewarm fights he moved home for a bit to take a breather. At this time, Jongsanan decided he needed a change of scenery, and so he shipped off to the Fairtex school in San Francisco to train under another coach, Ganyao Fairtex.
The combination of the two coaching styles lead to more success for Jongsanan.
"Monlit made me tough. Ganyao made me smart!"
Under Ganyao, Jongsanan had a perfect record from 1998 to 2005. No American has ever beaten him.
While he helped coaching students, at this time his focus was on representing Fairtex as a fighter. His last official fight was in 2005 when he hung up the gloves and focused on being a teacher.
"Muay thai is my life."
San Francisco Chronicle article about Jongsanan "Woodenman" and the muay thai documentary Win. Lose. Forgive. that featured him.
Here are some popular videos featuring Jongsanan "Woodenman."
A Jongsanan "Woodenman" highlight reel:
Here is the famous "Jongsanan Elbow Fight" 2nd round:
"Jongsanan Elbow Fight" Entire Fight: