On Sunday I trained in the morning with Emma Thomas at Master Toddy’s Bangkok Gym, then had to put on my big-girl pants and take the BTS all by myself to the other side of the city to meet up with another female fighter, Yodying. She and I have been in communication through Facebook chat for maybe 6 months now, mostly me trying to organize a fight between us but we’ve become friends now too. She calls me “Pi” and I call her “Nong,” which are the forms of address for older and younger siblings, respectively, sisters of fighting. Being able to write Thai is what allowed that relationship to develop, but meeting in person on Sunday was something I was very nervous about. I’m kinda a shy person despite my online presence, and though I’ve been around female fighters in fight situations I’ve never just hung out with a Thai female fighter other than Phetjee Jaa who is still a kid. Yodying is also maybe the best Thai female fighter at my true fight weight (45 kg/100 lb) in Thailand. She beat the current WPMF 100 lb champion Little Tiger and is now at 24 in a kind of semi-retirement, taking western boxing matches occasionally.
We’d agreed to meet at the Channel 7 Stadium to watch the Sunday afternoon Muay Thai show together. I watch this show on TV every week, the best Thai fights on television, but had never been there to watch live. I had a bit of trouble finding the studio once I exited the sky train, but a motorbike taxi driver who I flagged down told me there were no fights that day and even drove me by the stadium to show me it was closed. O, Fate!! I quickly sent Yodying a text and she said she was on the train still, so we could just meet at the station. Bad fortune into good.
From the moment we actually were standing in front of each other I felt totally at ease. Not at all nervous as I had been before we actually were in each other’s presence. She’s a very cool person, totally laid back and comfortable with herself. We chatted about opponents (we’ve fought the same people a few times and I’m fighting a friend of hers in Hua Hin at the end of this week, “Superball”) and different fighters we both follow. Funny thing was she actually knew who I was fighting on Friday before I did. Yodying asked if I needed “falang food” and I told her I like Isaan food, which she got very excited about because she’s from Isaan and she took me to a restaurant at the mall that served an entire menu of spicy salad. It was soooo good.
We chatted and showed each other pictures off our phones, talked about possible match ups and her dream of opening her own gym, something I’d like to one day help her with if I in anyway I can. We tried to take a boat load of selfies but weren’t familiar with each other’s phones, so in most of the photos we didn’t know where to look (above) and we giggled endlessly at the resulting pictures until we finally got some that looked good on her phone (below).
As I said, I’ve never “hung out” with Thai female fighters before. I’ve met them of course, but because we are going to be fighting in a few hours the encounters are brief and a bit standoffish. Yodying and I hope to fight one day. One of the things we talked about is a 4-woman Best 100 lb fighter in Thailand Tournament I’m hoping to put together which would potentially include her, Faa Chiangrai, former 105 lb WPMF champ Duangdaonoi, and myself. She said she is in which is really encouraging. We’ve talked about fighting before and she seemed luke warm on the idea. As a Thai fighter she is nearing the end of her career eager for opportunities beyond fighting, but so far our growing relationship it has largely been just two female fighters supporting each other, which is very cool. I was amazed at how comfortable I was speaking only Thai for 2 hours and, perhaps more amazing, spending actual face time with someone I’d never met in person before. As a shy person I thought this would be difficult, especially since our “date” had changed from going to a stadium which requires very little talking to going to lunch, which requires a lot of talking. I’m totally grateful it turned out to be the latter! Yodying is great.