BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai inmate Samson Sor Siriporn boosted her chances of freedom by beating Japan’s Ayaka Miyano to win the vacant women’s WBC light-flyweight title at the notorious “Bangkok Hilton” prison Tuesday.
Under the gaze of dozens of prison guards, Siriporn, a convicted drugs dealer, battled through the unforgiving Thai heat to score a unanimous points victory and kick-start parole proceedings for her early release.
“I’ve been in jail for a long time now, I hope this will see me released early,” said Siriporn, flanked by mean-looking guards and surrounded by photographers.
“When I’m free I’ll carry on fighting. I want to fight all over the world.”
Fighting in a makeshift ring in the grounds of the infamous Klong Prem prison with the Thai crowd chanting “fight, fight,” Siriporn was on the attack from the start and repeatedly forced Miyano on to the ropes with a barrage of punches.
The intense afternoon heat took its toll on Miyano, who twice fell to the canvas as a result of Siriporn’s relentless attacks, which drew rapturous applause from the few thousand prison staff, factory workers and taxi drivers who flocked to see her fight for freedom.
Siriporn’s sparring partners also watched the fight, while glamorous transvestites in high heels and skimpy outfits were allowed out of their cells to parade around the ring with placards at the beginning of each round.
Siriporn fended off a brief fightback in the penultimate round to outpoint her opponent 97-93, 98-92, 100-91 and become the first prisoner to win a world boxing title.
“I’m so happy with the way I performed today,” she said. “I’m very proud.”
Siriporn, 24, was jailed seven years ago for selling “ya ba” methamphetamine pills and took up boxing to pass the time and to protect herself from violent inmates.
Thai corrections department chief Natti Jitsawang said Siriporn’s criminal days were over and her victory would likely see her freed three years early.
“We will start the process for her parole immediately,” Natti told reporters just moments after the fight.
“I think it’s very likely she will be released as a result of this victory, maybe in a couple of months. We gave her a chance to show us her talent, and she has done that.
He added: “She is a changed woman, and now she has the chance to be free and fight around the world.”