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Nong Thoom
Name at BirthParinya Charoenphol
BornJune 9, 1981
OccupationMuay Thai boxer, actress, model

Parinya Kiatbusaba or Parinya Charoenphol (born 1981), more popularly known as Nong Thoom, Nong Toom or Nong Tum (Thai: น้องตุ้ม ปริญญา เจริญผล), is probably the best-known kathoey (male-to-female transgendered person) in Thailand. She is a former Muay Thai (kickboxing) champion and has also worked as a model and actress.

As a young boy, she was already aware of her gender-identity. After a short period as a Buddhist monk, she started to train as a boxer, and eventually joined a boxing camp in Chonburi Province. Her goal was to make enough money to support her poor parents and to pay for a sex-change operation.

Her public life began in February 1998, with a victory in Bangkok's Lumpini Boxing Stadium, the center of the Muay Thai world. The Thai media were understandably intrigued by the novelty and incongruity of a make-up wearing 16-year-old kathoey, or "lady boy", defeating and then kissing a larger, more muscular opponent.

Although the Thai government had previously blocked kathoey athletes from participating in the national volleyball team for fear of negative reaction from the rest of the world, the Muay Thai establishment embraced Nong Toom, and tourism officials promoted her as "indicative of the wonders to be found" in Thailand. Perhaps not coincidentally, Muay Thai had been in a several-year slump at the time, and Nong Toom had greatly revitalized both media and public interest in the sport, as shown by increased ticket sales and stadium revenue.

She was profiled in several magazines, and appeared in many Thai music videos. Subsequently, her public profile began to fade, but her bouts with a foreigner, as well as her trip to Japan to fight a Japanese challenger, kept her face in the news. By fall of 1998, there was little coverage of Nong Toom to be found in either the mainstream or boxing media.

In 1999, Nong Toom caused considerable publicity by announcing her retirement from kick boxing, her intention to become a singer, and her plan to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Initially she was turned down by some of the Bangkok surgeons she turned to, but then the surgery was performed in 1999.

Her story is related in the 2003 film Beautiful Boxer in which she was portrayed by real-life male kickboxer Asanee Suwan. The film won several national and international awards, yet opened to limited success in Thailand. It came to United States theatres in 2005. The film's director, Ekachai Uekorngtham, also wrote the solo performance Boxing Cabaret for Nong Toom which she performed in the summer of 2005 at the Singapore Arts Festival and later in Bangkok.

Nong Toom's story was also included in Julina Khusaini's National Geographic documentary Hidden Genders (2003).

On February 26, 2006, Nong Tum made a comeback as boxer. She fought an exhibition match for Fairtex Gym's new Pattaya branch, redubbed Nong Toom Fairtex Gym, by fighting a 140-pound contest against Japan's Kenshiro Lookchaomaekhemthong. Nong Toom won by unanimous decision after the three-round fight, leaving her rival with a cut near his eye from an elbow in the last round.

Nong Toom was planning another exhibition bout for sometime in 2006 with a female boxer Lucia Rijker, who portrayed the lethal "Blue Bear" in the film, Million Dollar Baby.

She had a prominent role in the 2006 superhero film-action film Mercury Man, playing the title character's transgendered sibling and demonstrating her kickboxing prowess on the villains. In 2006, she appeared as a guest star on SBS television series "World Record Pizza".

In late 2008, Nong Toom will open a boxing camp "Parinya Muay Thai" in Hua Hin, Thailand which she will co-own and run with American actor/writer Steven Khan.

On May 31 2008 Nong Toom had a fight against Pernilla Johansson at Rumble of the Kings in Stockholm Sweden and won by decision.


External links

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