Fani and I exchanged a few smiles and looks of acknowledgement in the lobby of the hotel where we were weighing in for the next day’s fights. We didn’t really have time to sit and chat, but the next day after each of our fights (they were back-to-back, so I didn’t get to see much of hers) I found Fani in the shade, eating a cup of coconut ice-cream. Her smile takes up her whole face and her long hair was pulled back in a low ponytail, some stray strands around her crown fraying out in every direction as a small reminder that she’s just been in a fight. We’ve spoken online before, but we’ve never met in person. Fani is incredibly friendly and when I asked if I could have a few minutes for an interview she just said, “Sure, but my English is not good.” Honestly, Fani could not speak a single word of English and still get across what kind of person and fighter she is.
So we stood next to lake, all shiny in the midday sun while fights went on as background noise. We were standing in the historical Ayutthaya park that is the backdrop of every travel show, every Muay Boran demo video, the ruins of temples and old chedis all around. It is the old capitol of Siam, the heart of Muay Thai history, and we’re two western women talking about our love of Muay Thai on the lawn. Pretty awesome.
above, my video Interview with Fani Peloumpi
I knew already that Fani has been coming to Thailand and fighting for a long time – she has one of the highest number of fights in Thailand on the list of westerners with lots of fights here, and if I’d have to guess she may have passed Teresa Wintermyr as the foreign woman with the 2nd most fights in Thailand, she may have over 60 fights in the country now and has been fighting in Thailand for a decade. We talked about some of her recent fights – we share a common opponent – and she mentioned that she felt she didn’t fight well on this day, but she felt restricted because she had another big event in three days, which is a tournament in which each fight is only one round. Fani only wanted to make sure she wasn’t injured for the next fight, but didn’t seem to concerned about the upcoming fight event. In the context of talking about her experiences of trying to fight outside of Thailand, where she’s had the common problem of opponents dropping out and the uncommon problem of an opponent literally not getting in the ring, it was clear that Fani is game to fight frequently and on the best shows she can in Thailand. With her current Thai gym, Sasiprapa in Bang Kapi, Bangkok, she’s had some really high profile fights in the past two years: World Muay Thai Angels, a 20,000 Baht purse for the Santai Festival up north, the Wan Wai Nai Khanomtom card from today, and the One Round Knock Out fight (televised) three days later. Fani stays pretty close to her fight weight (walking at 53 or 54 kg), so there’s no big cuts involved, but she did laugh and hold up her cup of ice-cream as illustration of why she has to cut weight at all. It’s a perfect example of what makes Fani endearing and why this was my favorite interview of the day.
With the camera off we chatted a bit more about fighters we both know, upcoming fights, some this-and-that of the day itself. A Thai man appeared in front of us and, seeing my camera was lowered, took his chance to ask if we were sisters. Fani laughed and I added something about how “all farang look alike,” but there is a universal sister quality to Fani that makes talking with her very easy. And she was very sweet, telling some of the people around us about me in flattering terms. I can see why he might have thought we were sisters based on how we were chatting, rather than how we might look.
If you enjoyed this article you may enjoy the post: Westerners Who Have Fought a Lot in Thailand
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