On 12th February, I fought at Asiatique and won in the second round. Immediately after that fight, I was asked to come back and fight again the following week. I was delighted to do so because it’s such a great opportunity to fight in such quick succession. I don’t often get opportunities to fight like that, but when I have done, they’ve always been catalysts for improvement, and in that first fight, I’d felt a little off and was eager to get in again and correct some of the mistakes I made there. Also, since I’d come out of that fight without a mark on me, there was no reason not to. I was straight back in the gym the day after the fight, ready to get back into it.
One great thing about fighting in Asiatique is that it’s in Bangkok, which means that travel isn’t an issue, so I have all day to myself and don’t have to worry about heading out to the venue until late. This time, we didn’t leave the gym until 7:30pm, knowing that the fights would start at 9pm. However, we hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that is was Chinese New Year during that time, which meant that Asiatique was packed and traffic was much worse than usual. When we arrived, we were immediately rushed up the stairs and told to get ready as quickly as we could, although we still had 45mins of prep time, which I thought was plenty. I already knew my opponent’s name, Dokmai Lek Kiatpompetch, but only because a friend of mine arrived early and sent me these photos of the poster and program before I left.
When we were hurried to our spot to get ready, I saw her, already oiled up with her hands wrapped and ready to fight. She looked bigger than me, but not by a huge amount. I felt good. Just as the previous week’s event had gone, Louis was due to fight before me, so while Kru Singh was wrapping his hands, I waited, stretched out and looked over the balcony at the bustling crowd downstairs.
Prep seemed pretty quick for this one and Kru Singh hurriedly got me ready before running off to corner Louis for his fight, during which I was led to a chair backstage and told to sit until I was called. Dokmai Lek followed and perched on a chair next to me, immediately striking up a conversation. I noticed that she was wearing the same Raja shorts that I’d worn the previous week when I fought her teammate, Petmuaklek. I remembered them because they were really snazzy with glitter and stars on them and I’d hoped that I could get away with keeping them. No such luck. She was very sweet, smiled a lot and repeatedly told me that she thought I was pretty, which I wasn’t sure how to react to, but that was because respond awkwardly at best to compliments from anyone, not because she was my opponent. While the first fight was taking place, we chatted about how long we’d each been training and where our respective gyms were. She knew that I was an English teacher and asked how I had time to train while I was working. In between each topic, she would tell me again that she thought I was pretty. It was nice to be able to relax and just chat to her before the fight, not all opponents are like that. It made the wait pass more quickly, too. When we were called to the ring, she went out before me while I waited behind a curtain. Then, when I heard my name over the speakers, I strutted out along the little runway that they have, where the stagehands waited to let me into the ring. Last time, they’d pulled the ropes apart for me to go through the middle rather than underneath. This time, they pushed the top rope down for me to jump over. It was a strange moment, but it’s happened to me before. In previous fights, my trainers or cornermen have occasionally forgotten to have me go under the ropes, but I’d always quietly hinted at them, at which point they always quickly rectified it. Because of the nature of the show (a new, modern promotion preceded by a stage show for tourists and not a traditional Muay Thai fight night), I was unsure if this was intentional. Since I’d been behind the curtain when Dokmai Lek went out, I hadn’t seen what she’d done. I was faced with the option of committing a potentially offensive faux-pas and hopping over the top as they’d indicated me to, or bringing it to their attention. I opted for the second one, gesturing towards the bottom rope with my glove, and it became clear that it wasn’t intentional as one of the stagehands exclaimed that he’d forgotten and laughed to the other one as he realised his mistake.
In the first round of the fight, she used her right kick a lot. I did a poor job of blocking it as my left foot was at the wrong angle. I was placing it straight in front of me instead of slightly out to the left, which made my blocks a lot less effective. Her legs were probably twice the size of mine and those kicks were rather heavy, so they put me off-balance a little at first. Most of that round was spent exchanging kicks and teeps and when I went back to my corner, Jesse pointed out the position of my left leg, so I made sure to adjust it in the next round. Jesse’s younger brother, Colton, is here with us now and helped him corner, which meant that Kru Singh was able to take the ‘big boss’ position on the outside of the ring instead of doing all the legwork, for a change. As the second round began, she started to move forward and within the first few seconds, we were in the clinch. This is usually a position that would put me at a disadvantage and I expected that to be the case, so without wasting any time, I threw six right knees at the same spot on her body, the last of which put her off-balance and made her fall backwards onto the floor. Immediately after she got up, she charged towards me again, so I threw a few punches and side-stepped out. My feet were definitely moving a lot better in this fight than they were in the last one. We ended up in the clinch again, this time both exchanging knees until she put a knee block on me against the ropes. At this point, I had a face full of her boobs. While she dug her knee into my stomach, she pulled my face down to her chest so that I couldn’t breathe. This is one disadvantage of being a short fighter. My mouth was open and everything. There was nothing I could do about it until the referee separated us. I work a lot better against forward fighters than I do against backwards fighters and was able to land some sharp punches as she came in, after which I could see her start to break and get tired. I knew that if I turned it up, I could overwhelm her, so I started to put the punches together with kicks in combinations. In response to the punches, she would cover and and put her head down, which allowed the kicks to land nicely to the body. As she back up to the ropes on the opposite side of the ring, I clinched and threw a knee, but left it there in the same kind of block that she’d used on me before turning and putting her on the floor. I went with her, but as she’d landed first, I was in the dominant position. Once again, she came forward straight away, but as she did so, I stepped in with a jab that snapped her head back and then fought backwards with more punches and kicks. I went back to the corner after that round feeling really confident and pretty sure that I could finish the fight, but also knew that I could ‘dance it off’ for the last round (fights at Asiatique are three-rounds long instead of five) as I’d won the first two. Jesse said to me ‘I know you’re tired, but she’s twice as tired as you are, so just go for it‘.
As the last round started, she came out with repeated right kicks, which were effective at first. I heard Jesse shout at me to use my left kick and the ‘Wall of China’ (where you lift up the front leg as if you’re going to throw a teep and then hop forward) to get in. They both worked. That’s the great thing about having a good corner, they see things that you don’t see and give them to you like weapons that you didn’t know you had. Again, I powered forward with kick/punch combinations. She caught one of the kicks, but I countered with a jab and in response, she lurched forward and turned all the way around, showing how tired she was. The referee stepped in for a brief moment, at which point I threw my hands up because I knew that I was winning. I continued with more of the same punches and kicks that had worked for me throughout the fight so far and eventually, she started just covering up and turning without fighting back, so the referee gave her a standing 8 count. I then heard Jesse shout ‘go for the knock out!‘ so when I got the chance, rocked her head back with a good right hand and followed it with a right kick to the body. Again, she covered up and turned away as if to give up, so I threw a right kick at her exposed back, knowing that it was a high-scoring move and would secure me the fight. Rightly so, because the referee then put a stop to it. I won by TKO in the third round.
After the fight, it was announced that some ‘special guests’ were invited into the ring to take pictures with us, but all I knew about them was that they were Chinese. If anyone can enlighten me, please do.
After the Fight
I felt really, really good coming out of this fight. I knew that I’d performed well and for the first time in a long while, some friends were able to be there to see it, including a work mate who had come to watch her first Muay Thai fight and girl who’d trained with me at Master Toddy’s a couple of years ago and had come back to visit from Australia.
Immediately after the fight, the promoter asked if I could come back again for the third week in a row to fight again. I would have loved to, but already had a fight scheduled elsewhere that week later and was working every day leading up to it, so had no time. I was annoyed at having to turn it down, but hopefully they’ll have me back there again on another date soon. As we walked out, I was met by a group of people. One of them approached me and said ‘Emma, this is Mr. Jaru Rumdecha. He is the Managing Director of World Muay Thai Angels‘. I had no idea that anyone from WMA was there and was very excited to meet them. Mr. Jaru said that he loved my fight and started asking questions about my weight and experience. It was a great compliment and I hoped that this meant he might want to put me on one of his shows. We chatted enthusiastically and he passed me his business card, asking me to give my number to his staff so that we could keep in touch. Below are a few snaps of that exchange. Perhaps this will lead to something in the future.
After that, I was stopped by a large amount of tourists to take photos, which didn’t happen the previous week. Clearly, Chinese New Year was a good time to fight there. When we finally got out, we ran into Dokmai Lek and her team, so I approached her to shake hands and ask for a photo. My opponent before her was also there, but didn’t acknowledge me, probably out of shyness. After taking a few photos, Dokmai Lek smiled and said that we’ll fight again in the future, at which point an older man who appeared to be her father said that she had to go to school every day and didn’t have time to train, as if that was the only reason why she’d lost. Her trainer had said something similar the previous week, so I paid it no mind and made it clear that I would be happy to rematch her in the future if they wanted. At that point, everyone started to disperse and make plans to head home. I would usually go home with my teammates, but on this occasion, the Australian friend that I mentioned before was there, so I opted to spend the evening with her. She was also staying in the Dusit Thani hotel, which is a swanky five-star place in the city, so I was happy to go back with her! There, I took the best shower I’ve had in a really long time, lazed around in a bathrobe and slippers and caught up with her while we watched a rubbish movie on the hotel TV. It was lovely. To win her even more friend points (after she’d also been my photographer for the evening), she presented me with a massive gift bag full of Cadbury’s, which is one of my favourite things in the world. It was definitely one of the best post-fight celebrations I’ve had! Strangely, after showering I found that I had a huge bruise on my ass, which was a new and confusing thing for me. I’m pretty sure that it came from throwing a poorly-timed teep while she threw a roundhouse. Aside from some standard (but minimal) shin bruising, that was the only mark I came out of that fight with.
This entire night was a really good experience for me. Having fought just one week prior meant that I felt really sharp and fluid in this one, so I was able to execute a lot more than I was in the previous one. It’s not all that often that I really feel like ‘me’ in a fight, but I did in this one. I was really able to put it all together this time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have fights like these more often in the future. As well as the internal response, it was wonderful to receive such positive feedback from the people around me and even the chance of a new opportunity with Muay Thai Angels. We’ll see about that one, but I’m happy just for the ego boost. This fight took place on the Friday night and my next fight was scheduled for the following Sunday, so I was hoping to keep the run going. Post on that one to come soon.
See below for a gallery of pictures from the fight (click to enlarge).
Pingback: vs. Lukkrok Dam Or. Pramuansak at Rajabhat University’s Muay Thai Festival, March 1st 2015. | Under The Ropes
Pingback: Talking Sexism, Rape Culture and Muay Thai at the UN | Under The Ropes