efe-epaGaspar Ruiz Canela Bangkok

Ex-Muay Thai and boxing champion Sagat Petchyindee says that the Japanese creators of "Street Fighter" were inspired by him to create the homonymous character of the legendary fighting game that revolutionized pop culture and gaming in the 1990s.

The real Sagat and the video game character both are Thai and Thai boxing masters, but the digital character is bulkier with a patch on his right eye and several scars on chest and face.

"I'm proud that the Japanese company created a character based on a Thai fighter," Sagat, 59, tells EFE at Hiit Boxing House-Thai Boxing Master gym where he now trains Muay Thai fighters in eastern Bangkok.

His birth name is Wiroon Polpimai, but from 1973 he came to be known as Sagat Petchyindee.

The first version of "Street Fighter" was marketed in 1987, although it was "Street Fighter II" which converted the game into a legend during the 1990s.

Sagat appeared as the last opponent in the first version of the game where the stage is a Thai location with a temple in the background, although from "Street Fighter II" the dictator and megalomaniac M. Bison appears as the last contender.

Capcom, the Japanese company that designed the game, has to date neither confirmed nor denied the inspiration being Sagat and has not responded to emails sent by EFE.

However, the Thai boxer - considered one of the best Muay Thai fighters during the 1970s and 1980s - insists that the creators of the game saw him fight in Japan, at a time when there were very few Muay Thai fighters and none called Sagat.

In any case, many people believe the story of Sagat, who even has the photo of the character from "Street Fighter" on his business card.

Fully shaved, Sagat now resembles the game character much more than when he was young and sported a full head of hair.

Combining rigor and histrionic exhibitionism, he trains about seven stalwart Thai fighters, who perfect their moves with a severe training in which they do not skimp on blows.

Muay Thai, one of the deadliest martial arts in the world, is also known as "the art of eight limbs", as fists, elbows, legs and knees are all used as weapons.

Despite the rigorous training, there is also room for jokes and Sagat himself grabs the microphone to sing Thai ballads.

Like many Thai wrestlers, Sagat, who was the seventh among 12 siblings, began fighting from the tender age of 11 in his native province of Nakhon Ratchasima.

In 1974 he moved to Bangkok, where he soon began to win fights and fame with his relentless style of fighting, especially his fist skills that combined lethal elbows, knees and kicks.

There also came low moments when he was defeated in eight consecutive bouts.

However, the Thai fighter, 1.65 meters (5.4 feet) tall and weighing about 63 kilograms (139 pounds) regained his winning streak and even fought in Australia, Italy and the United States.

In addition to several Muay Thai championships in Thailand, Sagat also won a World Kick Boxing (K1) match in welterweight along with winning boxing titles in the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation and the Asian competition at the World Boxing Council.

Of the 317 fights in which he fought, Sagat won 266 (151 knockouts), lost 40 and tied 11.

Although he tries to avoid the subject, the former champion has also fallen into trouble with authorities over consumption, possession and trafficking of drugs in 2002, 2004 and 2009.