On March 1st last year I took part in the first Muay Thai Festival at Rajabhat University in Ratchaburi. Rajabhat University is home to the College of Muay Thai Study, and I fought against Nong Teaw, one of the students there. You can read about that fight here. One year later, I was invited back to fight at their second Muay Thai festival. I was told by Master Toddy that Dr. Chanchai, the president of the Muay Thai College, had asked for me specifically, so I must have made a good impression last year!
A week before the fight, we attended the press conference for the show. This was to be the first time that we saw our opponents. Originally, I had been told that I would be fighting Nong Teaw’s sister, who is older and more experienced than her, in a kind of revenge match. However, upon arrival, I saw that the only female fighter there was Nong Teaw. At first, they unconvincingly told us that although her sister wan’t present for the conference, she would be on the day of the fight. This uncertainty didn’t please Master Toddy, so we eventually agreed on a re-match. That was fine for me, as our first fight was a great one. I took the win on points, but it was a five-round war in which she constantly came forward, unlike a lot of the other Thai girls I’d fought. The idea of fighting her again exactly one year to the day since our first fight appealed to me, since it would give an indication of how we’ve both progressed since then. There were two other fighters from our gym who were also due to fight on the show: Jesse, a Canadian fighter who has won almost all of his fights by knockout; and Katy, whose first fight was the to be on this show.
We arrived in Ratchaburi the day before the event and stayed in a hotel on the university campus, which was nice because we didn’t have to travel on fight day. So, we slept in and then went for breakfast together, after which Katy and I went to get our hair braided. The lady who did our hair was very sweet. After she’d finished, she promised to come and see our fights that evening and took some photos with us before we went on our way. We had a lot of time to spare until the fights started, most of which I spent napping in the hotel room.
Originally, Jesse, Katy and I were due to be some of the last fights on the card, but at around 6pm, Katy knocked on my door to tell me that she had been moved to the first fight, so we quickly headed out. Last year, the fights were held outside one of the university buildings, but this year, it took place in the campus sports hall. Upon arrival, we were informed that our fights would be three rounds instead of five. I thought it was strange, but it didn’t bother me. I’d had hopes of finishing my fight early anyway, and it was probably less daunting for Katy to have a three-round first fight. Last minute alterations are not out of the ordinary. In fact, I always have to approach my fights with the expectancy that something might change, whether its the venue, my opponent or something else. We were told to walk to the back of the hall and up the stairs to get ready. In doing so, we passed our opponents and their trainers, so we stopped to greet them on the way. As we arrived at the top of the stairs, we were directed to a classroom with little wooden chairs with desks attached and a model of the human body at the back. My first fight also took place in a school, but that was the first time that I’d ever prepped up in a classroom!
As soon as we got there, Katy started getting ready. She seemed to be in the ring in no time at all. In fact, she came out almost as quickly as she went in after finishing her opponent in the second round. I’ll soon be publishing Katy’s write-up of her experience, so I will let her tell you exactly how it went!
My fight was to be the fourth on the card. Without a doubt, I had never felt more confident going into a fight than I did for this one. I usually experience some form of pre-fight nerves, but I was totally relaxed on this occasion. I’d felt consistently strong in training and was looking forward to putting everything together in this fight. Fighting as a team on the same card makes for a great atmosphere, too. There was a huge group of people from the gym who’d come to watch and support us, which was also really nice.
After getting wrapped-up and warmed-up, I was instructed to sit next to Nong Teaw and wait for the fight before ours to finish. The first time that we fought, we chatted for a little bit as we waited. This time, her energy was different and she didn’t seem to want to make eye contact. I’m not sure if that was nerves, shyness or just focus. After the fight before hours finished, we were led to the ring by a group of students from the Muay Thai College who were dressed in traditional Thai outfits, playing drums and singing to signify our entrance. I’m not used to having any kind of fuss made over my fights here, as it’s always just a case of getting in, fighting and getting out again. This was nice, though!
I haven’t yet been able to see a video of this fight, but I shall describe it from memory. As I went into the first round, I was instructed to take it easy, front kick and side-step. I did just that, also landing some good body kicks on her and making sure to counter everything that she threw. I noticed that blood had appeared in her mouthguard, although I don’t recall what caused it. I took that first round, but she definitely came out harder for the second. She charged forward, landing some solid right hands on me and putting me off-balance a few times, so I made sure to counter her punches with kicks at every opportunity. I focused on giving and answer to everything she threw at me, getting the last strike in at every exchange that I could, after which she began to back down. Still, I didn’t go for the knock-out, as my trainers had told me not to turn it up until the third round. In between the second and third, they told me to go for it. I knew that this round was mine and I intended to take it. This round started off as more of the same, but shortly after it began, I had her in the corner. I recall throwing an elbow to the top of her forehead, which landed, but not well enough to do as much damage as I wanted to. So, I grabbed her head, pulled it down and threw a knee. I could see in her face that she didn’t want to fight anymore, but she was still standing. As she tried to escape, I followed her across the ropes to the adjacent corner, where I intended to finish the fight. However, before I could do so, the bell was rung and the fight was over. I was certain that it had been done so prematurely in a bid by the event organisers to prevent their fighter from getting knocked out, but nonetheless, I was happy with the win. I had been able to listen to my corner and execute everything that they told me to do, which is not something that I find particularly easy! I had also dominated the fight and won decisively, regardless of how it ended. I have since been informed by those who do have a video of the fight that the round was stopped at just about the half-way point. I look forward to seeing it for myself.
Shortly after my fight, Jesse was up. Jesse is, and I say this without exaggeration, a giant (well, I think you have to actually be at least 7ft tall to qualify as a giant, but 6ft 7″ is pretty monstrous, if you ask me!) Not only that, but he is a very skilled fighter, and that combination of those two things are very hard for his opponents to deal with. He has had less than ten fights, but the skill and technique that he already displays is really awesome. So much so, that most promoters and opponents that he comes across refuse to believe that he doesn’t have more experience than our trainers are letting on. He’s also a very focused student, who moved to Bangkok to live and train at Master Toddy’s in April last year and has since been fully committed to training and fighting full-time, with a view to become a world champion. He won this fight by knock-out in the first round with a knee to the head, which seems to be his weapon of choice. Of the fights that he’s had here so far, only his first one was a loss. After that, he subsequently went on to win all of the rest of his fights by KO. I’m excited to see where he goes from here. If you are interested in knowing more about Jesse, you can visit his page, where you can also make a donation to sponsor him, if you like!
Here are a few photos of Jesse just before his fight (click to enlarge):
All in all, this was a really great night. We all performed well and won our fights, and I was particularly happy for Katy, since I’d been training and sparring with her consistently for this fight (which you can read about here). It was really nice to see her finally get into the ring and hit that first fight milestone. I’ll be publishing her guest post shortly, so check back for that one!
See below for a galley of photos from the fight: