Monday, March 29, 2010

Risin' up to the challenge of our rival

I'm not generally one for attending sporting events, but Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport which makes it a cultural event. A dirty, sweaty cultural event occuring in a usually vacant field, at night. So Friday after work, that's what I did.

The Muay Thai ring was constructed in a field and the whole area was enclosed within a tarp and bamboo fence. It had rained heavily that morning, and the winged ants were out in full force that evening because of it. Attracted to the three incandescent lights swinging above the ring, they frantically fly about until they lose their wings and fall. The first order of business, then, was to sweep the spent insects out of the way.

(Don't think of these shots as blurry--they're frenzied and energetic.)

Before each match, the fighters stretched and prayed in the ring. The first fight was between children. They looked 9 or 10, so they were probably 13 or 14, in the 30kg class. Muay Thai is vicious to look at, and for the first few fights the action was entirely in the ring. As the night went on, the crowd got more involved (and invested) in the fights and the energy was divided between the crowd and the fighters.

There were a few gimmicks: a Thai-vs.-Falang match (the falang won,) and a short, stocky fellow in red against two taller opponents in blue (red won.)

Red's kind of invisible in between his opponents.

Nobody cheered when the falang won.

There were twelve fights of five rounds each. The whole spectacle went on from about 8:30 to 1:30. As I left the enclosure was already coming down. The Muay Thai stadium turned back into a vacant lot by morning. It was an entertaining night, and I found myself yelling along with the crowd by the end of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment