Muay Thai Warriors – Chiang Mai – June 28th 2013
Thakoon Pongsupha, who is one of the kindest supporters of Muay Thai I have met in Thailand and who runs the highly-recommended Sasiprapa Gym in Bangkok where I trained 3 years ago and had a wonderful time with expert instruction, contacted me several weeks to go to ask if I was open to fighting on his Muay Thai Warriors show in Chiang Mai. You can imagine how glad I was to do so, not even knowing what further treats would be in store. You can follow the Muay Thai Warriors production on Facebook.
It will be a televised fight card (channel 11 starting at 3:00 pm Thai time), though one never knows if my fight would fall within the televised portion. In my Nongbualampu fight I was told it would not be televised and then it was. In either case the really exciting bit is to have the opportunity to face off against a tough opponent in a big Chiang Mai venue (the 700 Year Stadium), and in some regard be representing Chaing Mai as a resident Chaing Mai fighter. What’s more, this card also features two of the top ten most well-known Muay Thai icons in my development, two persons I never thought I would share a stage with in any way: Saenchai P.K. Saenchai Gym and Nong Toom Fairtex. Nong Toom is better known as “The Beautiful Boxer” and in her very famous transition as a trans fighter becoming a woman she was at Lanna Muay Thai (Kiat Busaba).
My last name is spelled incorrectly on the card, but my first name is spelled correctly for the first time in Thailand!
The Fight Poster – Muay Thai Warriors Chiang Mai June 2013
The Beautiful Boxer – Fighting with Nong Toom on the Card
I first saw “Beautiful Boxer” when I was still quite new to Muay Thai (embedded below). I had no idea that she trained at Kiat Busaba (called “Lanna Muay Thai” for the west) until after I’d already trained there – it was a coincidence as I chose the gym because of another female fighter, Sylvie Charbonneau from Canada – but when I tell people around Chiang Mai which camp I train at they always know it. If I say “Lanna Muay Thai” there is a silence or a pause wherein the person is trying to access a memory, but if I say “Kiat Busaba” they immediately recognize the name and nine times out of ten will say, “oh yes, Nong Toom!”
Here’s a composite picture of her that hangs at the gym. It’s a tear-sheet from a magazine or newspaper from when she was still in a man’s body but painted her face for fights – an image which has become very famous. She’s performing her Ram Muay.
She is now at Fairtex and has not fought in a number of years. This show is her “comeback” fight and she’s only 32 years old. But Nong Toom represents a lot of different things about Thailand, Muay Thai, and the spirit of fighting for something. She supported her family and also financed her reassignment surgery through fighting Muay Thai; that’s not the kind of story you hear about very often and is at the same time something that makes perfect sense. I’m very excited to see her.
Above is the movie poster for the acclaimed film “The Beautiful Boxer” which is the story of Nong Toom, and which I watched so many years ago, and through which the world came to know her. If you haven’t seen the film though, you can watch it below in this embed. It is among the best films about Muay Thai I have seen, in many ways.
Training For this Fight
I don’t much buy into “big fight” fight mentality as it feels to me that it’s in line with the way the west treats fight build-ups, and that is one of the reasons I enjoy fighting frequently – fighting itself is part of development, it isn’t an end result but rather part of a much larger process. So for me this fight is just one in a line of constant progression. That being said, due to coincidence I will have had longer to train for this fight without proximity to other fights than for any fight thus far in Thailand, other than recovering from broken noses or stitches (3 weeks in all). These circumstances make this fight like my fight in Nongbualampu, which was an incredible experience, but also one that carried with it a lot of pressure and “build up” that took unnecessary focus from the more simple take-away which is that all fights leave me with something to improve upon. However, with more time for just training my trainers are amping up my workload, which is great. It’s something I can then keep for myself after this fight. All in all this fight is a kind of stepping-up in commitment in something that I’m already very committed to, and that always feels good. Indeed, maybe it feels even better because it is a demonstrative sign that my trainers are committed to me and the way I represent the camp as well.