vs. Nong New Sitkrupaew, Rangsit Stadium, 16th October 2012.

This was my fourth fight, and I was scheduled to face Petchkularb, my original opponent from my third fight who’d pulled out the day before the event citing period pains. However, the day before this fight, she once again dropped out, this time with no explanation at all. I didn’t spare it much thought, last-minute changes happen all the time. Besides, no matter who I went up against, I was still going to fight the way I’d trained.

When Petchkularb pulled out the first time, she was replaced by the same girl I’d fought in my second fight, Nong Nee. When I arrived at the stadium I found I was facing another familiar face. This time, it was Nong New Sitkrupaew, my opponent for my very first fight. “Surely there must be other girls in Bangkok for me to fight?”, I thought. But with a day’s notice, I was lucky to have an opponent at all.

This would mean that my first four fights were only against two different opponents. After I’d gotten over the initial disbelief of the situation, I saw it as an opportunity to see how both of us had improved since we first met around ten months prior. Our first fight had been a pretty sloppy one on my part, as basically all my technique had gone out the window as soon as the first bell rang. I remembered that she hadn’t given me much trouble on that occasion, but kept in mind that she could be thinking the same thing about me. It had been almost a year since then, and in that time she’d probably had many more fights, whereas I’d only had two, having taken a break to go back to the UK for a while. We’d probably both become totally different fighters in that time, which made it pretty exciting to be accidentally re-matching her.

Nong New is really sweet. She greeted me with a friendly smile, and we had a pleasant interaction. One of the girls she was with, however, seemed to hold a a grudge. She may have been her sister, friend or training partner. Whatever their relationship was, she didn’t like me one bit. While Nong New was preparing for the fight, she lingered around me making an effort to shoot me resentful looks at every opportunity, and even hung around to glare at me while I got my hands wrapped. Amused by her attitude, I just smiled back at her each time she appeared. The first time Nong New and I fought, I won on points. Perhaps this girl was looking for some kind of revenge, or perhaps she was just trying to create some weird competitive atmosphere for fun.

As I prepared to go in, this was the most confident I’d ever felt before a fight up until this point. We were one of the final bouts, and didn’t fight until around 11pm. After the main bouts had finished, which meant that the stadium had cleared out quite a bit by the time it was our turn. This boosted my confidence a little further, as I’ve always been nervous in front of a crowd, and knowing there would be fewer eyes watching me somehow made it easier.

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Just before the fight, one of the guys from the stadium came in with some incredibly old, worn and quite frankly, hideous, protective gear. These included a Madonna-esque boob guard, which seemed totally unnecessary given my A-cup chest size, and a female groin guard that was basically a huge, triangular piece of padding with a ragged string attached to it.

He instructed me to put the offending garments on. I immediately declined, but he then informed me that I couldn’t fight without them. So, I reluctantly put them on, cringing at the thought of the hundreds of times they’d been worn before. I was thankful that there was no mirror in the changing room, because I could feel that I looked absolutely ridiculous. The boob guard simply sat on top of my sports bra with nothing to fill it, and what made it even worse is that I only had a tank top, which made it totally visible as it poked through the straps. The groin guard felt akin to a pair of cardboard Bridget Jones underwear, soaked with the crotch-sweat of countless girls before me. It also left a painfully blatant bulge under my shorts. I reluctantly accepted my fate, and decided to get in and out of the ring as soon as possible. My cornerman, Ajarn Saming, just laughed at my discomfort and joked that I should be happy that my boobs looked bigger. I told myself that if I had to get in the ring looking ridiculous, I’d have to at least fight with style. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

Thoroughly displeased by the hideous boob-guard.

Thoroughly displeased by the hideous boob-guard.

In the first round, I came more aggressive than usual. The fact that I’d fought and beaten her before meant that I didn’t have my usual fears, but it also meant that I barrelled forward without thinking too much.

After my last fight, I wanted to work on moving forward, instead of throwing and then backing out without following up. I rushed towards her and tried to get her in the clinch, but she kept lifting up her leg to block me from kneeing. I hadn’t learned how to get around that yet.

Between the first and second round, my trainers told me to calm down, repeatedly saying “jai yen yen”, as they didn’t want me to tire myself out too soon, but I was determined to finish the fight as soon as possible. I knew I could beat her and I didn’t see the point in wasting any time doing so. Besides, I didn’t want to be seen in that hideous gear for a second longer than I needed to! I nodded, but knew I didn’t want to slow down.

When she came out of her corner for the second round, her expression had totally changed. Her trainers had clearly told her to be more aggressive, because she’d come out fighting. She put on her fight face and threw a few head kicks at me. When I simply fought through them (mostly because I was too slow/stupid to block them), she quickly retreated. If those head kicks were all she had for me, I figured I had nothing to lose. So, quite comically, I charged at her with my right hand in the air, as if to say “get ready, because I’m going to punch you”. With your elbow that far away from your body, it’s impossible to even throw a decent right hand, so they were ugly and ineffective.

On two occasions, I had Nong New backed into the corner by knees. The first time, the referee pulled us away from the ropes. But before doing so, he gave me some sneaky encouragement. I heard him muttering to me under his breath in English. “Knee! Knee! Elbow!” It was bizarre to hear that coming from a referee, and certainly not protocal, but stranger things have happened to me here in Thailand. I obviously hadn’t finished the job quickly enough because he was forced to break us up, but we ended back in that same corner again shortly afterwards. This time, it was clear that she wasn’t going to fight back anymore. He stopped the fight, and I won by second round TKO.

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After the fight, Nong New was still as sweet as before. She came straight to my changing room to give me a hug and take a few pictures, which I thought was a lovely show of sportsmanship.

There were no hard feelings between us, but unfortunately, her friend didn’t feel the same way. As I made my way out of the changing room, she deliberately walked into my path and shoulder-barged me. Nong New and a friend of hers rushed over to apologise and make sure I knew it had nothing to do with them, which was nice. Their friend’s grudge was comical and immature, but I had to remember that she was much younger than me. These girls were still in high school.

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This fight was a good opportunity to see how far I’d progressed since I first started, which I was really pleased to see. Although my technique was still laughably sloppy, it takes time, and it takes fights, to get it where it needs to be, and I’d seen a clear improvement this time. For my debut fight, I’d lasted three rounds with this girl and only taken the fight on points. This time, it hadn’t even lasted two rounds. For me, that was an achievement to be proud of.

See below for a gallery of images from the fight.

3 thoughts on “vs. Nong New Sitkrupaew, Rangsit Stadium, 16th October 2012.

  1. Pingback: Awkward Muay Thai Moments – Female Groin Guards | Under The Ropes

  2. Pingback: The New Lumpini Stadium: A Positive Change for Muay Thai | Under The Ropes

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