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Walter Sarnoi Oupathana

Walter "School Boy" Sarnoi Oupathana is a professional boxer from Monterey Park, CA.  In 2018 he won a WBC Latino silver featherweight title and was selected by the National Olympic Committee of Laos to represent the country at the  2020/2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

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School of Hard Knocks

Speaks five languages (English, Lao, Thai, Spanish and Mandarin), is a licensed paramedic, holds a master’s degree and ran for political office. Not exactly the profile of a guy that you would expect to see in the ring.  Walter’s resume may read like that of a schoolboy now but his early education came from the streets of Los Angeles County.  

Walter Sarnoi Oupathana was born in Monterey Park, a suburb just to the east of Los Angeles. His father is from Bangkok Thailand and his mother is originally from the Vientiane area of Laos.  Walter’s father was an accomplished boxer in Thailand but kept this from his son not wanting him to follow in his footsteps.  During Walter’s childhood, his father returned to Thailand and his mother raised him with the support of a Mexican American family who taught him to speak Spanish. 

Walter began getting into trouble until he found a support network in the 10-20 Club. The 10-20 club is a non-profit youth mentoring and intervention group that provides outreach services to troubled teens and their families. The club helped to set Walter on the right path in life.  At the age of twelve, he started channeling his energy into boxing. His success in the sport earned him a U.S.A boxing scholarship to Northern Michigan University where he obtained a degree in finance.

 

Walter turned pro in 2008 and after twenty years of fighting achieved his dream of winning a World Boxing Council (WBC) title.  On October 19, 2018, he defeated Luis Donaldo Colosio in Jalisco, Mexico, and took home the Green Belt. 

The National Olympic Committee of Laos opened up their Olympic rosters to foreign athletes of Laotian descent in advance of the 2020 Olympic Games.  Walter represented Laos at the 2021 Asian amateur Boxing Championships in Dubai and was one of two foreign athletes added to the roster for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo along with French cyclist Fanny Marie Cauchois. 

Walter had his athlete credential in hand, airplane ticket bought and an outfit for the opening ceremony packed when he received the news. Just eight days before the start of the games his dreams were crushed.  The International Olympic Committee Tripartite commission informed Walter that he would not be granted an invite to the Tokyo games.  

Walter has fought 29 professional fights, holds a record of 25 wins and 4 losses with 16 wins coming by way of knockout.  His eyes are on the 2024 games in Paris, France. He works as a paramedic and boxing translator for telecasts.
 

About this Article

Information for this article is from The Ring, The Downey Patriot, BoxRec, The Asian Boxing Federation, and Walter Sarnoi Oupanthana. Profile and photo credit to Brajoro Photo. Other photos courtesy of Walter Sarnoi Oupanthana.