above, video interview with Loma and Chommanee
One of the things that is surprising every single time I witness it is how humble, kind, and open fighters are outside of the ring. Even the superstars. I remember early in my career being thrown off by how nice my opponents seemed to be before a fight, I thought maybe they were tricking me by smiling and being sweet but then kicking my ass in the ring… but it’s not a front. That’s just actually how people are.
Loma Lookboonmee and Chommanee Taehiran are two of the most famous and skilled female fighters in the world, arguably the best fighters at their weight, bar none. Loma is a decorated (with Gold medals) international IFMA champion and Chommanee is perhaps best known for her 1 Million Baht win of the Muay Thai Angels, a big budget tournament and nearly undefeated reign since then. At the time of this interview last week both women had just returned from Vietnam, where they’d fought for the Thai National Team in a pro-am tournament – each won Gold. It’s safe to say that Loma and Chommanee are the power couple in female Muay Thai.
There are some very complex discussions that can take place (somewhere else) about Tom and Dee relationships, but the shortest version is that these couples are all over Thailand and are female-to-female romantic partnerships. The “Tom” comes from the English “tom boy” and is masculine styled, and generally someone who still identifies as female; and “Dee” comes from the English “lady” and is feminine (sometimes hyper-femme) styled, and counterpart to a Tom. Loma and Chommanee are a Tom and Dee relationship, which is somewhat common among female fighters in the highschool and college age group in Thailand. What I love about seeing them together in this interview is how clearly and beautifully their relationship is expressed in their exchanges. They’re very sweet and have been together for over 2 years now.
This six minute interview is not a deep look into the lives and experiences of female fighters, but it’s a wonderful glimpse at these two fighters, their personalities and a few thoughts about their careers. Thai women receive very poor representation to the rest of the world and Thai female fighters are virtually invisible, often effaced by the anonymous label of “a Thai” in their fights against westerners. These are two of the best fighters in the world and this interview is just a look at them being themselves, just a window into their world at Loma’s home gym where she grew up as a fighter – her little sister curled against her, her father talking on the ring on the phone behind them, the fighting chickens crowing away, Chommanee and Loma basically hanging out in the gym like it’s an extension of the porch. It’s awesome.
I’ve fought Loma four times, and not yet come out as the winner. But more important than winning and losing in the world are the people that make up our sport, the women. Through the support of my patrons this the kind of thing I’m trying to bring forward. My Thai is not yet awesome, but it was good enough to conduct this interview on the way home from a fight in Isaan, staying the extra night and finding my way to this beautiful, out-of-the-way place where great Muay Thai is made. I hope and plan that I can bring more coverage like this, so we can meet and know these remarkable female fighters.
If you enjoyed this you may like: Pettonpung Gym – The All-Female Gym in Mae Rim
You can read my article: Reading Notes “Toms and Dees” by Megan Sinnott
or browse all I’ve written on the Gendered Experience in Muay Thai
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