Malaipet Sasiprapa prepares for Lion Fight 23

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In the world of Muay Thai, there's one internationally known fighter that resides in Fresno. He's known around the world as Malaipet Sasiprapa. (KFSN)

The Central Valley is known for providing top-level fighters that were either born here or call the Valley home -- names like Jose Ramirez, Chad Mendes and Josh Koshcheck.

And in the world of Muay Thai, there's one internationally known fighter that resides in Fresno. He's known around the world as Malaipet Sasiprapa. And by the looks of it, the 33-year-old is still in tip-top shape. With more than 180 professional fights, the Thai fighter is no longer in the prime of his career.

But Malaipet's star power is as bright as any in the sport of Muay Thai. He's headlining the Lion Fight 23 fight card out in Temecula on July 31.

"Depends, depends, the timing, depends my body too you know? Depends on good shape. Whatever my body still not in pain. Still not hurt. I keep going," Malaipet said.

Malaipet's been fighting in the United States since the early 2000s. Los Angeles is a place he used to call home.

Now, Fresno is where he wraps his hands and hangs his gloves every day, and belts for that matter. The ones seen on his wall represent his credentials. It's a resume if you will -- a resume that includes being a 7-time world champion.

"When I met Malaipet, I was 320 pounds. I was 1-2 as an amateur fighter. And he believed in me. He saw the flame there. So, he just fanned it," Manny Mancha said. "He told me, 'Stick with me. I'll take you to the top.' I stuck with him, and he's making my dreams come true."

Mancha is one of roughly 100 students at Malaipet's gym in North Fresno. The fighter from Thailand teaches every single class during the week. That includes men, women and children. Teaching helps pay the bills, but passing along instruction means less than 100 percent focus on his next opponent.

"I've been training 75 percent, but that's hard when you have a business," Malaipet added.

Hard when you have a business to run. But each win in the ring means more money and more exposure for Malaipet. He hopes he has success as a fighter in what will turn out to be a much bigger gym in the Valley down the road.

"That's my goal," Malaipet said.

It's a shiny goal that's attainable with every win in the ring for the man they call "Diamond."
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