This fight was the first ASEAN Muay Thai Festival, which took place at the Muay Thai College at Muban Chombeug Ratchabhat University in Ratchaburi. Although I’d fought only ten days prior to this one, this was something I really wanted to be a part of. Apart from a little of the usual shin bruising, I had no injuries, so thought I might as well make the most of the opportunity. Also, some friends of mine lived in Ratchaburi, but I hadn’t seen them in months, because I’d always been too busy with fighting and working that I never had time for a social life. So, I thought this would be a great way of killing two birds with one stone. Unfortunately, it turned out that they’d already planned to be away for that weekend, so they couldn’t make it, but I decided to go for it anyway.
Two fights in ten days was new territory for me, as I usually have around one month in between fights. So, leading up to fight day I started to feel anxious. I started to wonder if I’d made the wrong decision, if this fight was too soon for me and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t able to train at 100% for this one, and was worried that I therefore wouldn’t be able to perform at my best. However, I trusted that since I’d only just fought, everything would still work as it should.
When we arrived at the Muay Thai College, we were pleasantly surprised with how well they took care of us. They gave us a quick tour of their school and gym, gave us a big lunch, and directed us to our hotel rooms, where we could rest for a few hours until we had to fight.
I seemed to have a real problem resting. During lunch, I could barely eat anything, and although I tried my best to nap, I couldn’t manage more than a few minutes at a time. Although in my head, I didn’t feel nervous at all, my body seemed to be telling me something different. I also kept getting headaches, and feeling slightly weak whenever I got up. I’m not sure if all this meant that I was getting sick, or if it was just some kind of pre-fight weirdness. Either way, I didn’t want to let negative thoughts enter my mind at this point before the fight, so I just took some Nurofen, kept drinking water and got ready to go.
I went downstairs to get wrapped up and ready. The weird thing about this fight venue wass that there were monkeys everywhere. On several occasions, I came very close to sitting, stepping, or putting my hand in monkey crap, which was not something I was used to having to deal with!
After getting oiled up, warmed up and ready, I got my gloves on and made my way towards the ring to wait for my fight. It was then that I saw my friends sat at the ringside. The buggers had tricked me! They’d let me think for the whole week that they couldn’t be there, and then turned up to surprise me. I was so happy to see them. I can almost never make time to visit them, but they are still so supportive and understanding. They realise how dedicated I am to what I do, and rather than holding it against me or trying to make me feel bad for not being able to spend time with them, they have always stood by me. The fact that they’d all come out to see me really meant a lot to me, because I felt like I’d been a bit of a bad friend, by always putting Muay Thai before them.
After a lot of hugs and good luck wishes, I was sat down next to my opponent to watch a couple of fights before it was time for us to go in. She seemed quite small, and quite a few Thais around us winked at me and told me that I had this fight in the bag, but I was sure not to underestimate her. At first, we didn’t talk to each other, but after a few short moments, I introduced myself to her in Thai, and she seemed excited that I could speak (at least some) Thai. After that, we chatted away about the usual stuff Thai people tend to ask me, how long I’d been in Thailand, why I was here, how many fights I’d had and where I was living, until it was time to fight. This is one thing I love about fighting in Thailand, before and after the fight, you’re friends, but when it’s time to fight, you just fight. After all, there’s no need for any of the fake rivalry and trash-talking, it’s a sport in which both fighters respect each other. So, as our names were announced over the speaker, the conversation stopped, and in we went.
For a little Thai girl, she was surprisingly aggressive. During the first two rounds of the fight, I didn’t perform well. She was coming in fast with punches and elbows, and I wasn’t moving quickly enough, so was missing my shots. At one point, she landed a nice elbow to the top of my forehead that sent me over the rope. As I went back to the corner, Master Toddy shouted at me. ‘What are you worried about?’ ‘She’s got nothing for you!’ I nodded in agreement. I didn’t know why, but I wasn’t fighting as hard as I should have been. There was no reason why I couldn’t beat this girl. I looked at all my friends sat behind him, and thought about how they’d all come out to see me win, and I couldn’t let them down. So, for the next three rounds, I gave it all I could.
In the third round, I landed a few good knees to the side of her head. She seemed a little dazed, but the referee broke us up and she kept going. My confidence shot up from that point, and although she continued to fight hard, she became less aggressive. Towards the end of the fourth round, she took a time-out to fix a bit of tape that was hanging from her glove, and although I thought it was a bit of a wimp-move, I was slightly relieved for the breather! Still, this worked to my advantage because she was showing how tired she was, and my trainer told me run around the ring with my hands raised to show that I was winning. When I got back to the corner, Master Toddy told me off. ‘Why did you let her do that? If you had done that, she would have tried to knock you out, so you do the same to her. Don’t listen to the referee!’ He was right, but at the time I felt that it was unfair of me to rush in at that point. It’s times like that, that remind me of how fighting and being aggressive don’t come naturally to me at all, which is quite laughable considering that I’m a fighter.
In the fifth round, I was tired, but persevered. Although I was winning the fight at this point, I knew that she had heart and would keep fighting until the last bell. Master Toddy grew increasingly frustrated with me during the last rounds. He repeatedly shouted ‘elbow!’ and ‘right hand!’, but somehow they never came. At one point, he even shouted ‘that’s your left hand! I said “right hand”, not “left hand!” which is pretty comical when you watch the video.
After five hard rounds, I won on points, and was handed a nice trophy by the president of the Muay Thai College. More rewarding than that was the reaction I got from my friends. Whenever they come to my fights, they make it a much more emotional experience for me. I was so glad to have made them proud, and grateful to them for making the effort to come and see me. Coming out of the ring and seeing them made the months of non-stop training without seeing them totally worth it.
See below for a gallery of pictures from the day.