Above are the first 2 video parts of my conversation with Kelly – parts 3 and 4 will be coming soon.
At 4:00 AM my alarm sounded. I rolled out of bed and turned on a light, saw my dog Jai Dee pop his head up and look at me for a moment, blinking his eyes and giving a little stretch before deciding it was too early and plopping his head back down on the blankets. I shook my husband’s foot and told him to get up. We had a 3.5 hour drive North-West to get to Kananchaburi, where I would do morning training at Sitmonchai Gym and then interview Kelly Creegan, who has been fighting out of Sitmonchai for the past year. I was tired with only a few hours of sleep in me, but I was excited to meet Kelly in person. Her blog, and Facebook Page “It’s Pandamonium” gives a great impression of who she is; she’s funny, straight-forward and tough. I like Kelly a lot.
Sitmonchai is located off the main roads, down a long paved road that serves as a rural runway for the fighters’ morning jog. Across from the gym is a field where the grass is a bizarre, almost neon green-yellow, like a Mountain Dew plastic bottle. But it’s beautiful. We parked the car and walked up the driveway, where Jai Dee was immediately alarmed by two barking Chihuahuas, which he didn’t find very intimidating, and then Oleon – the Rotweiler – who Jai Dee was pretty sure he didn’t want to be coming in close contact with. They figured it out over the next hour or so, having a few spats here and there but gradually the heat settled them both down into sleepy bundles.
Kelly and I shared the ring for a few rounds, each with different pad men, and chatted a bit on the sit-up benches before having a quick breakfast and then sitting in a little court area to film the interview. Unfortunately the shade wasn’t as shady as I’d thought and Kelly got a sunburn in the process of our sitting there, and the birds were much more notable on the film than they were in person. So I apologize for the shrill background noise and for my voice being louder than Kelly’s (I’m holding the camera, so my proximity makes my voice right on the micophone). I’m not a professional so my equipment is minimal and my process is informal. But Kelly is funny and comes through in the interview in the various ways she comes through in person: confident but calm, thoughtful, self-directed; and the boys from the gym were hovering around and watching with interest and teasing Kelly from a distance, which you can see a little of in the video. One thing that was immediately evident from my short time at Sitmonchai is how much the Thai fighters there love her. I have three older brothers, so the way the boys there are always teasing her, giving her little slaps every time they walk by, pulling faces, verbal banter… that’s all a very familiar expression of close kinship in my experience and I could feel how strong Kelly’s position is as the universal sister at the gym. You’ll hear of many gyms that it’s a “family atmosphere,” and that’s true in many cases, as gyms are little families. But I’ve never seen a woman fit into a gym the way Kelly fits in at Sitmonchai. It was very sweet to see…
At top is part 1 (in two parts!) of the conversation we had. Part 2 will be coming soon.