As I stepped into the ring for my eighth fight, everything was fine. After the ram muay, I paid respect to my trainer and opened my mouth for him to put in my mouthguard before leaving my corner. As he did so, something didn’t feel quite right. The mouthguard that normally fitted perfectly refused to sit in the right place. I felt a little confused, wondering if he’d put it in upside-down or something, but hurriedly walked to the centre of the ring, holding my glove to my mouth as the referee ushered me over.
While I was fighting, this didn’t faze me. It was only in between rounds, when it was taken out and put back in, that I realised that something wasn’t right. Then, I immediately forgot about it as each round started. It wasn’t until the following morning, when I glanced at the mouthguard, that I noticed its unfamiliar shape. It was a pink Shock Doctor mouthguard — exactly what I had, but with a mold that looked totally unfamiliar. Then, it came back to me. Prior to this, I’d fought at the first ASEAN Muay Thai Festival at the Muay Thai College in Ratchaburi. Just before my bout, an Indonesian Fighter named Kevin Valentino Rouw fought, cornered by my trainer. I remembered that he’d had exactly the same mouthguard as mine, and realised that there had been such a short time in between those fights, I hadn’t bothered to check my mouth guard. Then, it dawned on me. I’d spent three rounds sucking on someone else’s mouth guard!
I instantly felt horrified, a feeling that I can only liken to a moment from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, when Ace suddenly realises that Finkle is Einhorn and promptly begins brushing his teeth, scrubbing himself in the shower, burning his clothes and crying hysterically while Boy George’s ‘The Crying Game’ played in the background. I didn’t quite take it that far, but that is pretty much how I felt.
The worst part about it was that after mistaking Kevin’s mouth guard for mine, my trainer had lost mine altogether! The incident had taken place during a tournament, for which I was due to fight again the following day. This left me with no time to buy a new one. As a result, I was not only left with the horrible realisation of what I’d done, but was also no choice but to repeat the episode in my next fight. I repeatedly boiled the mouth guard, not that it made any difference considering I’d already used it, and resigned to the fact that I would have to use it again. Oh, God. It still makes me cringe to say it. Kevin is a friend of mine, which made the experience slightly more bearable. Still, it was pretty disgusting. He found it hilarious, as did my trainer. I, however, was not quite so amused.
I’ve since had a custom mouth guard made from a dentist, and am now irrationally protective of it (although that might also have something to do with the fact that Master Toddy’s dog has a penchant for mouthguards, and if you let yours out of your sight during training, you aren’t likely to see it again!)