vs. Mangpor Suksanongchai, Buriram Songkran Festival, 14th April 2013.

After having 4 fights in one month, I was eager to take a break and remember what it was like to relax without the pressure of constant training, dieting and fighting. With the Songkran festival coming up, this seemed like the perfect time to do so. But then my trainer, Ajarn Saming, asked me to fight over Songkran weekend in his hometown in Buriram. I really didn’t want to fight, but I knew that the idea of taking me to fight in his hometown for Songkran meant a lot to him, so I told him that I’d train as hard as I could and see how I felt closer to the time. This was three weeks before the fight. During that time, I could barely kick as my shins needed a lot of time to heal, so I mainly trained in boxing and clinching. It wasn’t until about three days before the fight that I could start kicking again, and I must have overdone it because I managed to injure my calf and inner thigh, making it a little difficult to walk, let alone train, for a day or so. It got to a couple of days before the fight and I didn’t feel physically ready, but hated the idea of letting him down. When the time came, my leg seemed better, so without any lasting injuries I didn’t feel like I had any reason to pull out of the fight (plus, I’d left it a bit late by that point!). So, I didn’t.

We drove for approximately 6 hours to get to Buriram, arriving at around 4am. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the promoter, who sized us up and chatted with us briefly before showing us to our rooms in his countryside house. Being the only woman, I was given my own room with a mat on the floor, a blanket and a fan, while the men shared a separate room. At that time of morning, I could have slept anywhere. We were grateful to the promoter for inviting us into his home and giving us a place to stay.

The next morning, we woke up and were fed some lovely Isaan food before heading out to promote the show and celebrate the Songkran festival. this involved hopping onto the back of a truck adorned with posters of us to promote the show, and spending the whole day driving around the countryside having water fights. This was far from how I usually spend the day before a fight, and it didn’t seem like being out in the heat was the best idea, but we all enjoyed it. After that, we were put in a hotel for the night, and told we’d be picked up the next morning to go to the fights.

The van that we spent most of our day on, which also featured what I think were supposed to be 'menacing' photos of us..

The van that we spent most of our day on, which also featured a poster with what I think were supposed to be ‘menacing’ photos of us.

The fights were taking place at an all-day Songkran festival event, which meant we’d be fighting in the midday heat. This didn’t seem ideal, but we just had to deal with it. I met my opponent, Mangpor Suksanongchai, and we seemed to make a fair match-up. There was no weigh-in, as is standard for these kinds of events. Instead, I was called over to stand next to her, where we were looked up and down for a couple of seconds before we were deemed OK to fight. She looked my size, and they said she’d only had 2 fights before (which I took with a pinch of salt). After that, I returned to a corner in the shade, where we all sat on mats waiting (or napping) until it was time to fight. During that time, a couple of people approached me to say that they would bet on me, offering me half their winnings if I won. One lady came to me with a flower, and took me to a nearby shrine to make an offering and pray for good luck.

I felt totally relaxed and unfazed about the fight throughout the day. When I got in the ring, that feeling continued. For the first two rounds, things were going fine. We both kept a relaxed pace and I felt that this was definitely an even match, and one that I should be able to win. Ajarn Saming removed my mouthguard after the first round, presumably because he knew that my stamina wouldn’t be on form. But that was not my main concern, It only took one kick for me to realise that my shins were nowhere near healed, and kicks were therefore pretty much a no-go. This made me much more reserved than I normally would have been. In the fourth and fifth rounds, I felt that I fought well and there were some good exchanges, but knew I hadn’t done enough to win. My opponent won by decision. I didn’t mind, as I knew I hadn’t gone into this fight at 100% and wasn’t able to fight to the best of my ability. That was the problem. I lost this fight because I didn’t put my heart into it.

Looking back, I’m a little disappointed in my nonchalant attitude. I haven’t come to Thailand just to fight for the sake of it, I’ve come to challenge myself. 

This fight made me take a good look at why I’m doing this. For the last few months, my focus had been solely on getting as many fights in as possible to rack up my experience. But in this case, that was holding me back. After each of those fights, I’d only taken day or two off and then just crammed in the training until the next one, without any time to rest up or heal properly. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to go through that gruelling period of hard training leading up to a fight, leaving myself physically and mentally exhausted but totally ready to fight. This is what I needed to get back into. Up until those last three fights, I came out of each one feeling that I’d improved, regardless of the result. With this fight, I felt the opposite.

For my last couple of fights, I hadn’t felt totally ready to go in, but had done so just to please other people. In turn, I hadn’t been able to fight at my best, and wasn’t happy with the outcome. Now, I have to remind myself to prioritise my own feelings. As a lifelong people pleaser, this is a struggle for me. But no matter how much you don’t want to let other people down, you have to put yourself first when you’re the one who is going into the ring. I may not have learned much in the way of fighting, but I am happy to have taken that lesson from this experience.

I’d originally planned to spend this Songkran festival with friends, as my 6-day work week coupled with my training schedule meant that I never had time to see them, and hadn’t visited them in months. In hindsight, my time would have been better spent relaxing with them, but I just couldn’t turn down an opportunity to fight, whether or not it was the best thing for me to do. Sadly, those friends ended up leaving Thailand and moving to another country before I got a chance to see them again, which made me feel even worse. I’d always put training and fighting before anything else, and this made me realise that it was better to try and find a balance, so that I could get the best of both worlds. Although training and fighting are my main focus right now, I sometimes need to take time to enjoy other things in life. In turn, I’ll then be able to get more out of it.

I ended up not getting paid for this fight, which is an entirely separate saga. You can read the story of what exactly happened in this post: Being Conned by a Slippery Promoter.

I didn’t get any photos of the fight itself, but I did include a picture of my rather fetching Songkran shirt, just for good measure.

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One thought on “vs. Mangpor Suksanongchai, Buriram Songkran Festival, 14th April 2013.

  1. Pingback: Being Conned by a Slippery Promoter | Under The Ropes

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