A Day of Contrasts
Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
85Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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There was a Muay Thai (Thai boxing /kick boxing) tournament on at the Rajadamnurn Stadium, Thailand’s premier boxing stadium, and I had a ringside seat. This was bound to get my juices flowing after such a placid day with the Buddhas.
My only experience of a fight night was watching boxing on TV, where the boxers come out to music, limbering up and snarling at all and sundry
The boxers start with a pre-fight ritual: first they go to each corner of the ring and, seemingly, say a short prayer or blessing (I’m not really sure), they then kneel in the middle of the ring to pay homage to their king, family and Buddha and then they perform a slow 'warrior’ dance, like a Thai version of a Haka, but far more graceful and peaceful. It’s a dance (literally) that incorporates their fighting style. It’s fascinating to watch, but it hardly gets the blood going. Then the bell goes...and they beat the holy living crap out of each other.
It’s one thing watching something like that on TV, it’s quite another altogether to see someone get knocked out and carried out on a stretcher right in front of you. Watching this also cleared up the age old conundrum, "Who would win in a fight at their prime, Bruce Lee or Muhammad Ali?" Well, I can tell you that the speedier, slighter boxers got their punches and kicks in, but once the (slightly) shorter but more muscular boxers got their shot in, it was pretty much over after that
Another boxer had slow reactions and kept getting caught by his taller, more agile opponent – that is until he roundhouse kicked him in the side of his chest. After that for three rounds he went for the same part of the body, as the erstwhile faster, nimbler opponent was getting slower and slower with nasty red welts all over the side of his chest. He must have at least cracked a few ribs, if not broken one.
The strange thing is all of this is done with no emotion, except for the main bout. In this case the faster man was winning, but he was also smiling a lot at his opponent – which is tantamount to showboating in Muay Thai, this incensed his opponent so much that he found unknown reserves of adrenaline and then proceeded to smash him around the ring – I hadn’t seen a turnaround like that since Newcastle came back from 4-0 to draw 4-4 with Arsenal. It was simply amazing.
The boxing aside there were other things to keep me entertained – the crowd wildly betting on the matches; the referees getting physical with the boxers (they literally manhandle the boxers to get them to break/separate); the insane music which is played during the fight, but which you quickly become accustomed to; members of the crowd coming up to the ring to offer advice to the boxer, while the manager’s trying to keep him focused. Even the rubdowns between rounds were unusual, as the boxers get their legs pulled apart as they sit to keep them limber.
All in all, Muay Thai seemed to mirror my day; a calm, reflective beginning before descending into violent mayhem.
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