The inspiration for the launching of the Wall of Fame at the Sundara Sports Lounge of the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa was the legacy of Hua Hin’s original international sporting hero and Thailand’s first world champion boxer Pone Kingpetch.
After visiting the boxer’s statue in downtown Hua Hin, General Manager Bruce Dupuis realised the significance of that achievement to inspire the emergence of Thailand as a sporting nation. What has now been revealed on the Wall of Fame are the signed photos and abridged biographies of many top-ranked sporting stars and teams in a variety of sports including tennis, the martial arts, football, volley ball, snooker and motor racing. Some of the present day stars were in attendance at the official opening last month to hang their own picture with gasps of admiration being a spontaneous reaction from guests on hand. A surprise to many was be the picture of Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, better known as Prince Bira of Siam, as the first and remaining the only Thai to drive in Formula One. The Prince was the only Southeast Asian driver in Formula One until 2001. His first race was in the 1950 British Grand Prix as the first World Championship Formula One race of the modern era.
The picture of Pone Kingpetch was provided by his daughter, who expressed her appreciation of his recognition in a letter to the Sheraton management, The Wall of Fame will soon have some more pictures on display with the Sheraton team following up to obtain more pictures of Thailand’s sporting greats. This will inevitably recognise some golfing greats and perhaps even a picture of the late King Rama IX as a sailor of renown. Visiting the Sundara Sports Lounge at the Sheraton now provides an opportunity to realise the importance of the legacy of these sporting greats to the nation’s profile. As Dr Bichit Rattakul stated in an unrehearsed speech; “these sporting stars made a significant contribution to Thailand’s place in the world. In the years before they emerged, many didn’t know the difference between Thailand and Taiwan, so they really put Thailand on the world map.”