For Parinya Charoenphol, it took a lot of strength – physical and otherwise – to become the person she always knew she was.
Charoenphol [aka Nong Toom]’s mother gives her a bath every time she visits and the famed boxer still loves to run around in front of her parents, who laugh and say that she’ll never grow up. Whether as a young boy or now, a grown woman, Nong Toom loves to make her parents laugh.
Parinya Charoenphol had a rocketing career as a Muay Thai kickboxer – 20 wins and 18 TKOs – where she made a name for herself as a gay teen boxer with heavy makeup. Her work was all towards one goal, though: saving up enough money for a sex change operation.
Since transitioning to a woman, Charoenphol has starred in a number of movies and even had her own biopic, Beautiful Boxer. Her mere presence has helped turn assumptions about the male-dominated sport of Muay Thai – and the conservative social underpinnings thereof – on their head.
See also this article in the Guardian about her movie (which, fair warning, takes a, erm, less nuanced approach to the language surrounding her gender).