My third fight was to be my first stadium fight, on an all-female card for a televised event on the Queen’s Birthday.
I was originally set to rematch Nong Nee, who had beaten me on points in my previous fight. However, for unknown reasons, she pulled out a few weeks before. This was disappointing, as I’d been gearing up to fight her again, but she was quickly replaced by another girl, who I knew only as Petchlukarb.
I trained solidly for two months, harder than I ever had before, for this fight alone. When I look back on those two months, I remember countless hard sparring sessions with some of my male training partners, sometimes feeling like a champion, and sometimes feeling like I shouldn’t be fighting at all. I specifically remember being given a bloody nose and a black eye after just a few rounds of sparring with a French guy, and for a moment, questioning what I was doing. Thankfully, that moment passed quickly before I went back to the bag and continued to train. No one likes to get beaten up, but it’s better that it happens in training, rather than the fight. It’s all part of the process.
A couple of weeks before the fight, I got sick. This is something that often happens if I over-train for long periods of time. I knew that if I didn’t rest, I wouldn’t get better, but I didn’t want to stop training for fear of not staying on top of my game. So, I battled through it. Those sparring sessions where I was ill, short of breath and being pushed to my limits did me good. Although my body felt like it couldn’t keep going, my mind had to find a way to overcome that and make it to the end of the very last round while performing at the best I could. That’s what I needed. If I can fight until the end when I’m feeling awful, I will fight even better when I’m at 100%.
I also found myself with a new trainer a couple of weeks before the fight. Master A, Master Toddy’s younger brother, was visiting from England, and Master Toddy had instructed him to take care of me. I had never met him before, so didn’t know what to expect from him, but after just one round of pad work with him, I felt a connection – that spark you feel when you work with someone who knows exactly how to work with you. I was very happy to learn that he would be my corner man. I continued to work closely with him until the fight, but my work schedule meant that I could only do so twice a week.
With only one day to go before the fight, I felt ready. I knew I had trained hard enough, and I was looking forward to putting everything into practice. Unfortunately, just one day prior to the fight, Petchlukarb pulled out, apparently due to ‘her period’. This was incredibly frustrating, as I had been building up to this fight for what felt like forever, and I didn’t want it all to be for nothing. Rangsit Stadium holds same-day weigh-ins at 6:30am. Since Rangsit is at least a 45 minute drive away from our gym, this would mean getting up at around 5:00am on fight day, and making the long journey four times in one day, twice for the weigh-in and twice for the fight. As this seemed less than ideal, we tried to negotiate around it, but to no avail. They demanded that we show up in the morning, so that was the plan.
Having never needed to weigh-in before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially as I didn’t even know if I had an opponent! My trainer was unable to accompany me, as his son was fighting at Rajadamnoern that day, so I went with a friend from the gym. When we arrived, we were faced with Nong Nee. This confused me, as she’d originally pulled out of this match, but after the initial surprise of seeing her, it didn’t make much difference to me. I weighed in at 112lbs (50kgs), the agreed fight weight. Nong Nee, however, weighed in at 120lbs (55kgs). Having never been in this situation before, and without my trainer there with me, I had no idea how to approach it. No one seemed to be bothered by the weight difference, other than my friend, who spoke a great deal more Thai than I could. He told them that it wasn’t fair, to which they replied that they would call Master Toddy to discuss the matter with him. He left the room and came back a minute later, saying that it had been agreed for Nong Nee to run twenty laps of the car park. It was clear that he hadn’t spoken to Master Toddy at all, but it there was no use in saying anything, as there was nothing I could do about it. So, we watched as she jogged (a few, but certainly not twenty laps) around outside, after which they didn’t even re-weigh her. So, the whole process was quite pointless. Why demand that we show up for the weigh-in, if the weights mean nothing anyway? I’m sure that if I had come in over-weight, it would have been a different story. However, such is Thailand. All I could do was forget about it and prepare to fight.
We returned to Rangsit Stadium at around 5pm to prepare for the fight, and waited for Master A to meet us there. As luck would have it, there was a massive rainstorm, so traffic was even worse than usual, which meant that he made it with only about ten or fifteen minutes to go before I had to fight. With very little time to warm-up and prepare, and without really knowing Master A, I just had to trust that everything would come together in the ring.
The time to fight came, and we went in. Nong Nee came out with punches, just as she had done when we previously met. She was throwing hayemakers from the first round, and it was clear that she was trying to knock me out. When I returned to the corner from the first time, Master A said ‘that’s not good enough, you need to do more!’, and he was right. In the rounds that followed, I fought harder, but it still wasn’t enough, and after five rounds, I lost by decision. With this being my third fight, I still wasn’t comfortable in the ring, and I was still having problems getting my mind and body to work in unison. It sounds strange, but fighting is not something that comes naturally at all. I’m not naturally aggressive or even slightly confrontational in any way, so I constantly have to struggle against those aspects of my personality to train myself out of them, at least in the ring.
This fight showed me what I was made of. Although I knew during the fight that I was losing, I refused to give up and continued to fight until the very end. This may not sound like much in terms of fighting, but it was a personal achievement for me. Friends who came to watch told me that I’d shown a great deal of heart in that fight, which made me feel more positive about it. The promoter also told me ‘if they had given points for heart, you would have won’. Although this fight ended in a loss for me, it was still a great experience. I had taken part in a great event, had my first televised fight, and learned a great deal.
The main thing that I’d learned was that I needed to work on following up. According to Master A, there were so many moments where I landed something on her and threw her off balance, but then came back out, as if I was waiting for her to hit me back. This sounded about right to me, as it’s something that Master Toddy had often shouted at me for in sparring sessions. I kept that in mind, and made it my goal to work on that for the next fight.
See below for a gallery of images from the day.