I have mentioned before, my fascination with various sport such as Soccer (Football),Basketball,Tennis,Rugby,Athletics and Boxing. What I did not know or rather was not well acquainted, is a sport with a near fanatic following,in the South East part of Asia, Thai Boxing.
What rugby is to Australia and South Africa, what soccer is to the English,or what baseball is to America,what the Marathon is to the Kenyan,or probably cricket to India, Muay Thai is to the Kingdom of Thailand. The legions of fans and anticipating faces glued in front of television screens on Sunday afternoons leaves one with little doubt how Thai care deeply and take pride in their ‘national sport’.
I had watched a few bouts on T.V a while back even before knowing I will one day tour the land of smiles,yet the level of brutality exerted by competitors did not endear me to the sport at all. If you thought ‘normal’ boxing is bad enough,try watching some bouts here of its ‘cousin sport’ >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yPfukurJdw
So I become amazed that such a brutal sport flourishes in a country where a majority of citizens seem so humble,polite and yes…smiley..??!!. But alas,this combative sport I soon find out dates back close to 1,000 years,hence a tradition,better still the heritage associated with the sport.
Reference of Muay Thai as the Art of Eight limbs – the eight contact points of the fists,elbows,knees and feet is quite interesting. This further cements the brutality angle I have always associated with the sport,what with the inclusion of knees and elbows, makes me cringe – instinctively reaching out for my groin area for protection. I have seen the devastating effects of knees and elbows only in martial arts experiments using bricks and wood,yet can not recall these being used in actual combat,until now!
Having noticed the interest and frenzy that the bouts create just on television alone,I decide to attend a live match at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium,the heritage of Muay Thai in Bangkok am informed. From the outside,across the street while approaching the stadium,one gets the opportunity to witness fighters(I think that should be correct way of referring to them) undertaking their work outs and warm up before show time.
Live matches run on Friday from 6.30 pm and Saturdays from 4.00 pm and 8.15 pm according to the Lumpini Boxing website. Visitors(non-residents) unfortunately are required to pay 10 times what locals pay to watch these live bouts. I was expected to pay 3,ooo Baht (approx. $100, with no popcorn!) while residents/locals pay 300 Baht ($10); It felt like a rip off and unfortunately,I had to let go of this opportunity. Maybe the glaring disparity of “Locals – 300 Baht” “Foreigner – 3,000 Baht” on various pay booths put me off; hopefully there will be someone in authority to rectify this anomaly.
However,all said and done,am still looking forward to attending a live event soon,albeit in a fairly priced venue. In the meantime,I keep engaged via my television set, watching a few matches occasionally when I get the time. I think my consolation has been that if families including kids can keep up and actually initiated to the sport from early age, it’s about time I man up and take up to the sport as well!
Historical and legendary fights are on You tube. Most interesting views are ones that have bouts matching up Muay Thai fighters with either Kungfu or Taekwondo (TKD) blackbelts ….I leave that to you to figure out who comes tops..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL5Cy33RWLo&feature=related