Streetfighter Was One of The Biggest Fighting Games of All Time… It’s Still a Beloved Classic and if You Know it, You’ll Also Know Sagat…
Streetfighter is video game royalty. The Capcom creation has sold over 40 million units since its initial release in its original form back in 1987. Players would have to choose between being Ryu or his American rival Ken.
In the game, you have to defeat your eight initial opponents before going to Thailand and eventually facing Adon, and then finally ‘The Emperor of Muay Thai’ Sagat. Sagat is one of the greatest bosses in the series, and eventually becomes a playable character in Streetfighter II: Champion Edition.
The man who inspired the character is just as interesting as the game. It’s widely believed that Sagat is based on real-life Muay Thai fighter Sagat Petchyindee – widely regarded as one of the greatest practitioners of the martial art ever.
There are few fighters in the world that the word legendary should directly apply to, however, Sagat Petchyindee is definitely one of them. He is a 3-time Lumpinee champion, a 3-time Rajadammern champion (the two most prestigious titles in Thailand) and a Muay Thai and Kickboxing world champion. He has been fighting since he was 11,
While his record speaks for itself, he also personally instructed Firas Zahabi in the Art of Eight Limbs. Yes, that Firas Zahabi who is the head coach of a certain Georges St. Pierre who just might be the greatest UFC fighter of all time. Sagat fought and defeated the likes of Ronnie Green, Pete Cunningham, as well as fellow Muay Thai luminary Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn twice.
In the Game
Hailing from the Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand, Sagat was also an excellent boxer. This is unusual in Thailand, with punches usually scored very low unless you actually get the knockout. This has cost many foreign fighters a match when they thought they were winning. However, it’s believed that the in-game Sagat’s signature ‘Tiger Uppercut’ is inspired by his skill with his hands.
If you’ve played the game you’ll remember that Sagat had quite a unique character design. He wore an eyepatch over his right eye, had his hands and ankles wrapped, and wore Muay Thai shorts. From the second game on, he had a scar on his chest as a result of his defeat to Ryu in the first installment.
He’s also an absolute beast of a man, standing at 7″4 and weighing in at over 280lbs. In real life, there are very few Thai fighters who weight over 168lbs, so Capcom kind of exaggerated the truth just a little bit there. However, apart from the ridiculous size discrepancy, the real-life and game version of Sagat look alike.
This was a problem because Capcom never got permission to use his likeness. According to the fighter, who now works as a full-time coach, he was going to sue but the time and money would have been too much (via Bangkok Post). Instead, he decided to try and capitalize on the game instead and drive up his image. Definitely a smart move.