Since 2013, an annual Muay Thai festival has been held by the Muay Thai College of Rajabhat University in Ratchaburi on March 1st of each year. I fought on the first and second ones, both against the same opponent, Nong Teaw Aj. Samran, and was excited to be fighting there for the third time in a row. Having won against one of their students both times that I’d previously fought there, I assumed that they would match me up with a particularly challenging opponent this time, which made it even more exciting. This was to be my third fight in three weeks, the first two of which I’d won by KO and TKO, so I was happy about the idea with further testing myself with this one.
The week leading up to this fight was a busy one for me. I had to renew my visa, which meant running around organising paperwork and meeting with officials in lieu of training for a couple of days. This would usually be fine because I could still join the afternoon sessions, but I had already agreed to work overtime in the evenings that week. I also had some friends flying into BKK who would be coming to stay with me just before the fight, which was another stressor. On top of that, I managed to get sick mid-week. This was probably a result of all the extra activity, which gave me less time to rest, but I bounced back from it after a couple of days.
This isn’t how I would normally spend my days just before a fight, but that is one of the things about being out here and making this your lifestyle. If you want to fight, you can’t make any excuses. There will always be work, sickness or something else that gets in the way. If you want to fight, you just take the opportunities where you can get them. While fighting is my main focus and purpose for being here, it’s not the only one and I have to make room for them all sometimes. So, although it wasn’t ideal, I was still happy to fight. However, a few days before the event, I was told that they hadn’t found an opponent for me at all and that I wouldn’t be fighting. This was disappointing, but with fights falling through being such a regular occurrence, I was already winning as far as I was concerned, having already been able to fight twice. There was still a possibility of a last-minute match up, but when the day before the fight came and I hadn’t heard anything, it didn’t seem likely. I informed my friends who were flying in that night and made loose plans to spend the day with them instead.
Of course, I ended up having to change those plans. When I got back from my run that morning, Kru Singh told me that a match up had just been secured. I felt awkward about having to disappoint my friends by picking them up from the airport and then darting off to Ratchaburi to fight instead of spending time with them, but they were always very understanding of my lifestyle, which is why they’re such great friends. I’m not one to turn down a fight, not only because I want to fight as much as I can, but because the thought of letting others down makes me very uncomfortable. It seemed that I had to do that either way with this one, so I went for it. After talking to Kru Singh, I went to work and mentally prepared myself to fight the next day.
Rajabhat University very kindly loaned us a minivan and driver for the day, who came to pick us up from the gym on Sunday morning. After driving for around an hour and a half, we arrived and were greeted by one of the staff, who told me that my fight was ‘the special match of the night‘. I wasn’t sure how this could be, seeing as I was under the impression that I’d only been put on the card at the last minute and was intrigued as to what that meant. As well as myself, Tu, Jesse and Spanish fellow named Ibai were also fighting out of our gym. We had arrived a few hours early, so found an empty classroom with air-con to relax in, shown below. You can see me in the background, lying on the floor in a white t-shirt, trying to take a nap using my gym bag as a pillow.
A member of staff came in and handed us the bout sheet (shown below), which had me listed as the last fight, which must have been why I was told earlier that it was a ‘special fight’. I was listed as going up against a girl named Lukkrok Dam Or. Pra Muan Sak (ลูกกรอกดำ อาจารย์ ประมวลศักดิ์), but didn’t recognise her or her gym’s name. Shortly after I’d read it, the same guy came back to tell us that the order had been changed and that I would be the third fight, after Ibai (who was listed at L Yai and changed to the second fight).
After getting prepped and putting my gloves on, I was asked to sit on a chair next to the stage, where Lukkrok Dam sat next to me. Unlike my last opponent, she was very uninterested in talking to or even looking at me. I tried to catch her eye a couple of times, but it seemed like it was strictly business for her. While we were there, her trainer came over and chatted to me while he splashed water on her, saying that he was an instructor from Angthong Sports School and that she had trained there with him since she was ‘a baby‘. I guess having a lot of experience and being in the game for a long time explained her cool demeanor.
When we met in the ring, she maintained her confidence. She was definitely taller than me and I could tell from the way she moved that she was very experienced. Lots of people had told me to keep my hands up as I went in and although this is a very generic thing for people to say, I wondered if it meant that she might be more of a boxer. This is sometimes the case with sports school fighters.
I soon found out when very early in the first round, she came at me with a strong punch combination that pushed me back towards the ropes. From what I recall, none of them landed clean, but that was the hardest I’d ever been punched by a Thai girl. I’ve taken plenty of kicks, elbows and knees, but she was definitely the strongest puncher I’d faced. She also had a killer right kick, and although I was blocking well, they started to take their toll on my left shin as the fight went on. It’s not very often that a kick can still bother me even when I’ve blocked it. She was very good at faking and it threw me off.
I felt as if she would be able to see or anticipate my movements and this made me freeze up a little. This is an old problem that bothered me in some of my old fights and was resurrected in this one. It’s funny how different opponents can bring out different things, but this is why you have to fight a wide range of people, to keep improving. It quickly became clear that I was outmatched and outclassed and she continued to throw strong strikes that I wasn’t able to answer. I just wasn’t quite sure what to do with her. We clinched up a few times and both threw elbows that only just missed. When she came in, I countered her with some good punches and left kicks, but nothing that was too effective. During the last round, I heard her trainer shout ‘por leao!‘ meaning ‘that’s enough!‘ to tell her that she’d already won and didn’t need to do anything else. Of course, she took the win by decision. I lost every round.
Funnily enough, although I’d been completely outclassed, I didn’t feel bad at all. She was a really strong and experienced opponent, one whom I have no shame in losing to because I just wasn’t ready for her. I want and need to have fights like these because they force you to get better, which is my ultimate goal. I just want to improve as much as I can. That doesn’t mean winning every fight.
I had been previously hoping that I could make it three KOs in three weeks, but I’m still happy with this outcome because it has given me a clearer vantage point from which to see the areas I need to work on. It might sound strange to come out of a loss by unanimous decision feeling so chipper, but that’s how I felt and still feel now, almost a couple of weeks later. I’m still feeling the after-effects of her right kick on my shin, which I made a point of icing immediately after the fight. I stole the leftovers of someone else’s milk tea to do so.
I received my purse entirely in 100-baht notes, which made it look like a lot more than the 3,000 baht that it actually was. While I usually hate it when people post pictures of money, I was hypocritical on this occasion and took it as an opportunity to take a comical snap.
More About Lukkrok Dam
The word ‘lukkrok‘ refers to a ‘ghost child‘ and ‘dam‘ means ‘black‘. The lukkrok is often depicted by Buddhist amulets, sometimes made with real fetuses. I am unsure of the specific details, but from what I’ve heard, the basic story is that it was traditionally made with a stillborn fetus from a dead mother and is believed to have strong spiritual powers. You can read more about that here. According to that site, in ‘The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen‘, Chris Baker wrote the following.
“The spirits of stillborn babies are believed to be specially potent, perhaps because they contain all the energy of the un-lived life. The most common form of these infant-spirits is luk krok, a stillborn baby, small and not fully developed, dried and kept as powerful protective charm, nurtured or enchanted so it will love and hence protect
Overall, it’s a pretty awesome fight name to have. While I was at the fight, Sylvie (of 8limbs.us) looked her up online and found an old fight video of hers, which you can see here. I’m not sure exactly how old it is, but it was posted in 2013 and she looks much younger there. Other than that, I wasn’t able to find any more on her. Although I wasn’t much of a match for her, I’m still happy that I fought her.
See below for a gallery of pictures from the fight as well as some others from the ceremony part of the Muay Thai festival, which took place earlier in the day (click the enlarge).