Ratchaburi’s Ratchabat University is home to a Muay Thai college, which has hosted a fight night every year since 2013. I’ve been lucky enough to fight on every one of their annual shows so far (here are my posts on my fights from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 events). It started as an ASEAN event, then and international one, and this year was called ‘MC Fight’, although I don’t know what the MC stands for.
This year was going to be different because they’d managed to organise for it to be broadcast live on TV, which was an exciting development. I was happy to see the show grow and it felt good to be a part of it. The only thing was that as it grew closer and closer, I was still without an opponent, and that made me slightly nervous that my bout was going to be cancelled. At one point, I was asked to suggest my own opponent. Since I closely follow a lot of Thai fighters around my weight class, I wasn’t short of ideas, but it felt odd to pick one out. In the end, I didn’t need to submit any names because Krataithong Por Promin had already agreed to fight.
Krataithong (which translates to ‘Golden Rabbit’) is a 17-year old sponsored fighter from Por. Promin gym in Hua Hin. I was already aware of her from following Por. Promin’s Facebook page and she seemed like a very suitable opponent for me, since we are almost the same in size and experience, so I had expected to be matched up with her. In fact, I’d been in contact with the manager of her gym not long before to see if I could organise a fight with her. She fought Sylvie in August last year, and this would be the third time Sylvie and I had faced the same person. It was a relief to have an opponent at all, but I was happy that it was Krataithong.
This fight was the first one in almost seven months for me. This fact didn’t really dawn on me until that day, when Sylvie pointed it out while we were recording our second podcast episode. This long break was certainly not intentional. My last scheduled fight, which was supposed to take place in December, got cancelled and in the months before and after that, I’d been having a very hard time at my gym. I hadn’t been getting what I needed out of training and generally didn’t feel taken care of. Not only did I not feel confident enough to fight under those circumstances, but it was hard to even organise one because my trainers didn’t seem interested in helping me with that.
I’ve also been on a long losing streak and have been thinking about what I need to do in order to change that. When this fight came around, things seemed to pick up again and some much-needed energy was injected back into my gym, so I forgot about what had happened before and just got stuck in to fight prep until the day came.
I took the 2-hour trip to Ratchaburi in a van with a big group of people from the gym who’d come along to watch. As soon as we arrived, I jumped out of the van and left them all, heading straight into the university building to get myself ready, with around an hour until the show was due to start.
I wasn’t the only person from my gym who was fighting that night. There was also Jeremy, a guy from Holland who’d been training with us for a few weeks but had a lot of previous fight experience. He ruffled a few feathers with both our trainers and the organisers by bringing almost nothing with him and putting on a pair of MMA shorts to fight in. When he was asked to change into some Muay Thai shorts, he just shrugged his shoulders, so some people ended up running around and finding a pair of suitable Muay Thai shorts for him. Since the show was televised, uniform was extra important. This became even more apparent when I went to put my gloves on a few minutes before the fight and the girl at the desk looked at me with horror and said ‘you’re in the red corner, why are you wearing blue?’ Blue was all I had. Thinking about it, the only pair of red shorts I own are a massively oversized pair I was given after fighting in them at Rangsit stadium three years ago. We ended up switching corners to make everything easier.
During the time between getting there and fighting, Kru Singh was almost always playing poker on his phone. It seemed like he’d become addicted to it because he couldn’t put it down for a minute. Even when it was time for me to get oiled up and massaged, he just looked up from his phone and asked another trainer to do it, although he did join in eventually. That was weird, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me.
Jeremy was the very first fight on the card and went up against a very tall French fighter who stopped him with a strong knee to the sternum in the first round. After that fight, we all went back upstairs to the room because there were another four fights until mine. While everyone was waiting and watching the fights, I separated myself and sat a few meters away just to get myself into the right mindset. One of the English guys from the gym didn’t seem to realise what I was doing though, because he repeatedly came up to me to ask questions. This was his first time seeing a Muay Thai fight in Thailand, so I couldn’t blame him for being so inquisitive, but when you’re trying to get yourself geared up for a fight, having someone ask you complicated questions such as how the scoring system works is not ideal.
Even when I was gloved up and sitting next to my opponent, minutes before we were due to walk into the ring, he asked me to explain the purpose of the mongkol. I told him I’d be happy to do it after the fight was over. At this point, I assumed Kru Singh was still playing on his phone somewhere, because he was nowhere to be seen. While Krataithong and I were sitting there waiting, she turned to me and asked ‘how old are you?’ From there, we had a little chat, talking about how she’d fought Sylvie before, who she said was ‘very strong’, and she also asked me how many fights I’d had. When I told her that it was just over 20, she replied ‘oh, same me!’ Then, the announcers called our names and we walked towards the ring, followed by a parade of university students in costumes who were beating drums and singing.
It’s hard to give a full run-down of this fight because I haven’t been able to see any video of it, but the main thing I remember is that Krataithong had a very strong right kick. Annoyingly, I kept trying to grab it, which is something that I’d been doing a lot in sparring with my friend Marina for the month leading up to the fight. It always worked with her because she threw her kick with her leg bent, which made it easy for me to grab it, turn her and kick back or trip her. It had become an instant reaction and I’d developed a habit of doing it. Krataithong’s kick was quicker and straighter, which changed things. In training, it worked almost every time, but in the fight, it didn’t work once, and I wasn’t able to adjust.
In general, it felt like my reactions were slow and I couldn’t get my brain into gear. From her fight with Sylvie, I knew that she liked to throw elbows and sure enough, she threw one at me pretty quickly. I felt it connect, but it wasn’t painful and didn’t leave any bruising or swelling, which was lucky. At one point, she came in for the clinch and I threw one back at her, which landed in the left upper corner of her forehead.
Despite taking the elbow, she kept coming forward. In fact, I didn’t even notice her head go back in the fight, and only saw it in the above photo. I’d been told that she was a forward fighter and that was definitely true. She reacted to most of my kicks by grabbing them and then walking forward, and although I tried to counter that by punching, it didn’t stop her. I must have been grabbing the rope to stop me from falling because the referee told me off for that at least once. Oops!
This was the first fight during which I wore my LoBloo groin guard. It was lucky that I did because one of those heavy kicks that she was throwing landed right in my crotch! The guard was obviously effective because amazingly, I didn’t feel a thing. I’ve had plenty of clashes like that and they usually leave bruises that can last for a few days as well as the immediate pain, but this time, I didn’t have to deal with that. My full review of the LoBloo Aero Slim women’s groin guard will be up very soon.
My strategy going into this fight was to push forwards, knowing that her strength as a forward fighter could mean that she was uncomfortable fighting backwards. Unfortunately, that went straight out the window when I was actually in the ring, and I froze and waited. As Mike Tyson famously said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth“.
It’s frustrating to have a problem that I struggled with in my early fights come back to me like that, but I have to remind myself that it has a lot to do with not fighting for so long. She stuck to a game plan that worked and I just didn’t make the changes I needed to. My corner was telling me to go forward with punches in the last two rounds, but I just wasn’t able to do it. Some time in those rounds, she landed a kick directly to my left elbow, and I couldn’t help but drop the hand. That’s the last thing I remember before the bell rang. Krataithong won by decision.
When I jumped out of the ring, I stayed at the corner and my trainers started taking my gloves and wraps off. Immediately, the English guy from before reappeared and immediately asked if I was ready to go home, clearly eager for us to get in the van and make our way back. I told him that it might be nice to sit down for a moment first and then go and change my clothes and pick up my pay packet. You know, the obvious stuff. I realise that there are things that non-fighters can’t be expected to understand, but I don’t think that needing a moment to recuperate after a fight is one of them. I found that rather strange, and it was a reminder that the team I used to have around me wasn’t there anymore. All the people from the gym who came were very nice and their support was great, but it did feel like I had something missing. That’s the thing about living in this kind of environment though; people come and go.
Despite the fight not going so well for me, I really enjoyed it. Krataithong was a great opponent for me and I’m happy that I got to fight her. Since then, my parents have been in Thailand and I’ve been so busy with them that I haven’t been able to train, but I hope to be fighting again soon so that I can make some changes and work on the things that I wasn’t able to do this time. I’ve been in touch with Por Promin to get a LoBloo for Krataithong because she’s been looking for a good groin guard but, like me, hasn’t been able to find a decent one for women in Thailand. She might even be the first female Thai fighter to have one! She may have kicked me square in the vagina, but I’m happy to give her what she needs to protect hers.
LoBloo now sponsors Two Ladies in the Kingdom, a podcast where me and Sylvie talk about women’s Muay Thai in Thailand. Use the promo code SAVE2ITK to get 10% off LoBloo groin guards on Amazon UK or US.
See below for more pictures from the fight (click to enlarge)