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Found 15 results

  1. Fairtex has announced it will begin promoting at Lumpinee Stadium, starting in January, including MMA shows. So... that's happening. They also explicitly state "all genders," making them the second promotion to include women at the stadium (currently GoSport is the only promotion including women there). A Muay Thai Reaction As for how the New New Lumpinee, with its focus on omitting gambling and including very different promotions, one reaction from Thai fans is expressed in this post from a popular Thai Language news page. It says: Lumpinee will accept 3 rounds, 5 rounds, 6 rounds, female fighters, MMA, concerts - everything but gambling. (I assume the 6 round fights are boxing.)
  2. As of today, there has been an announcement that Channel 8 shows, Muay Hardcore (MMA gloves) and Superchamp (gloves) will introduce 2 5 round fights at the end of each show starting at their first shows next year. These shows have, until nowz only been 3 round offers with an aim for the Entertainment Muay Thai format, which has grown in popularity. The New Lumpinee GoSprot promotion which introduced women to the stadium also introduced "hybrid" cards with the first 3 fights being 3 rounds, followed by 5 round fights. Interesting development.
  3. On Saturday there was a fight between American fighter Ongjen Topic, fighting out of P.K. Saenchaigym and Chalawan, who was formerly training with Attachai Muay Thai Gym but has been inactive (got married, moved down South) for the past 3 years since winning a Rajadamnern Stadium title. The very short version goes like this: Ongjen got counted in round 3 and, coincidentally the live TV broadcast cut off after that round (just a coincidence of time). The rest of the fight was only seen by those in the stadium or those who had some kind of online feed. In round 5, Chalawan was counted during a skirmish and then Ongjen was also knocked down but wasn't counted by the ref during a similar skirmish. Ongjen won on points and a very well-known gambler actually jumped into the ring to protest the decision. It was crazy and video/photos of it were everywhere. Here's the 5th round: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&v=1368466243610995 The gambler's complaint was that the referee had unfairly not counted Topic, basically handing the round to him. Had the referee counted Topic for what was pretty much the same kind of knock down/slip that he'd counted Chalawan for, the round would have been even. On the scorecards, the 3rd was 10-8 for Chalawan and the 5th, because Topic wasn't counted, was 10-8 for Topic. There have been countless updates, videos, explanations and comments on this issue over the past few days. Mainly, there are comments saying Topic won the fight anyway through his strategy and using "more weapons" than Chalawan, so the point about the count is moot. Others are saying the ref counting Chalawan and not Topic in round 5 is clearly cheating. And even more than either of those are people sighing and saying that the gambler jumping into the ring to protest, the argument over the count, the accusations of cheating are all together something we have come to expect from nearly every fight card and this will be the end of Muay Thai. What the people who actually have a say in this are saying is that the referee has taken responsibility and come out to say that he made a mistake in not counting Topic in round 5. There will be a meeting with Sia Moo, the head of Omnoi Stadium, where this fight took place, as well as the referees and judges, to discuss this mistake. They will not, however, be changing the result of the fight (which would cancel the bets, so the gambler who jumped in the ring is not getting what he wanted). There was also a stern warning from Sia Moo that if gamblers behave like this, storming the ring, he will simply no longer allow gamblers to enter the stadium at all, which is what Lumpinee has done in their most recent incarnation. Here's the fight in full so you can watch for yourselves. I was watching on TV and thought Chalawan's response to nearly knocking out Ongjen in round 3 was... bizarre. But, he hasn't fought in a long time and I do know that sometimes you don't know how close your opponent is to being done when everyone outside is screaming at you because they can see the affects that you can't... so, my view is just my view from watching TV. Ongjen was absolutely the more busy fighter, Chalawan is more accurate and more on balance; we're at a time in Muay Thai's scoring transformation that I don't know how judges favor those very different aesthetics, but the scorecards for this one are a pretty clear indication. Full fight, introduced by Mister Pong (a very famous sport reporter and announcer):
  4. Last week (or so) a video went "viral" on Thai social media. It was a scrappy street fight between a young kathoey (generally used for male to female Trans, but less frequently used also for female to male) protecting herself from a local, cis male bully. Nong Ping is the young Trans woman and in the video, shot by a bystander on their phone, and she absolutely goes to town on this bully. In the end the bully is standing, panting, tired, and nose dripping from his nose. After this video got so widely shared, Nong Toom - "The Beautiful Boxer," and the most famous kathoey celebrity and former Muay Thai fighter - took Nong Ping in under her wing. Nong Toom has had the young woman staying with her and has begun training her in Muay Thai, saying she already has heart and now just has to learn the skill. Nong Toom even accompanied Nong Ping on a TV show that is more or less a platform for guests to air out their grievances and settle disputes (Sia Boat and his fighter who has been charged with throwing a fight for money appeared on the show a month or so back). Nong Ping and her bully appeared on the show with the host, and Nong Toom at the table as well to educate this bully and the public. Here are some photos of Nong Ping. The first is a screenshot from the street fight, the remainder are those posted by Nong Toom as Nong Ping is a guest in her house. Nong Toom says she believes Nong Ping will have the opportunity to have a professional fight after she's been training for a bit. (As per Thailand's laws, Nong Ping will face either a cis male or another kathoey.) For the latest Thailand Muay Thai News Updates check out our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  5. Recently there have been talks about how to deal with fighters "dancing" too much and not engaging in fights, resulting in both fighters being dismissed from the ring after 2 warnings by the referee. Usually this is in the 5th round, although the announcements havw differed between promoters about how they will enforce the rule. Channel 7, for example (Giatpetch) has said this will only apply to rounds 1-4. On 2 promotions so far, including Petchyindee, fighters were dismissed by the referee (1 warning, 2nd warning is a deduction of a point from each fighter, after that they're dismissed) in round 5 of the Main Event. In both cases so far the public consensus is that it was warranted. I'm not certain how this affects the fighters' pay. I read on one post that their purse is cut in half, but have not seen that written anywhere officially. In this announcement Sia Moo, the head of Omnoi, says for his stadium fighters will be warned as in the previous suggestions, but after 2 warnings they will not be thrown out of the ring. He says this will only lead to new forms of cheating. (I totally see this. If you have no way to win, this cancels all bets.) Instead, fighters' purses will be docked as a result of too much non-engagement. He doesn't say by how much.
  6. On December 6th there was a big fight card in Chonburi city, at a stadium that was a temporary host to the Omnoi fights when Bangkok was still closed. The whole card was full of young fighters, starting out with some of the biggest names with Yodpetek and Yodpettoh Boomdeksian (twins, 12 years old), as well as Jojo Dejrat (under the care of Arjan Surat and carrying the gym name, which is a huge deal because almost nobody who trains under him uses the gym name anymore) versus the very-much underdog fighter from Rambaa's gym in Pattaya, Naksu TopGuard. Jojo is well known in Thailand already as a young talant. At 13 years old he most recently fought with a huge side bet against Yodpetek, which ended in a draw. For this fight against Rambaa's young prospect, there was a 100,000 Baht side bet (a little under $3000 usd). Naksu worked with Yodkhunpon for about a week before this fight, sharpening up his elbows, and Rambaa trains his kids hard regardless. If you're fighting a Baan Rambaa fighter, you're getting a tough kid, hands down. The entire night of fights has been lauded as a success, news sources pointing out that the fights were all 5 rounds (in contrast to the increasingly common 3 round matches, partly popular at the moment due to Covid restrictions) and were all exciting from round 1-5 (a sly criticism of a new rule that has directed referees to stop a fight due to "non engagement" if the fighters dance around too much, which has been enforced twice now, in round 5 on the Main Event fights of two major promotions). Naksu won the decision and the 100,000 Baht side bet. Jojo's manager (not Arjan Surat) published a diplomatic but clear complaint with the outcome: "In sports there are wins and losses. If the judges of this promotion decide this way that's their prerogative, but they don't need to book my fighters anymore." To be fair, whenever there's a substantial side bet on a fight, the losing side is more or less obligated to argue against the decision. However, below you will see another announcement that "Soh Eh," the owner of Jitmuangnon Gym and the promoter of the Muay Dee Wittitai show on Sundays, has announced that she is interested in promoting a rematch between Naksu and Jojo on her show, although no date has yet been announced. This is exciting to see that the future of Muay Thai is, at least at this moment, doing well in the talent of young male fighters and promoters are interested in fostering that. Watch the full fight Jojo vs Naksu Naksu after the decision, above The head of Jitmuangnon announcing that she wants a rematch on her promotion in Nontaburi, above Rambaa celebrating at the victory, above You can watch the full fight card with lots of young talent here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=search&v=432460228448118
  7. It was just announced that, starting January 8th of next year, Lumpinee will start promoting an afternoon show that is only children. There will be 4 bouts per card, starting at 1:30 PM. Children have been permitted to fight at Lumpinee for a long time, but there has always been a weight limit (and ostensibly an age limit, but I'm not sure what that was; the weight limit kind of takes care of the age limit at the same time) of 100 lbs. As it's been told to me by Legends and older fighters who entered Lumpinee at that 100 lbs minimum, it's a bit of a forgiving line and fighters sometimes had to eat and drink in order to try to hit 100 lbs, rather than anyone dropping down to it. This new show is lowering the weight limit to 80 lbs, which will allow younger fighters or will at least acknowledge what weight some of those fighters are actually at when they come to the stadium. The intention of the show is to give access and opportunity to dao rung or "rising stars" as they are called in Thai. It's unclear from the announcement who will be the promoter for this particular program, but it's in line with something that Sia Boat of Petchyindee had initiated and invested in for his own promotions prior to the most recent shutdowns from Covid. It is unlikely that this will include girls; but we'll see. Of note is that the graphic used for this announcement are two young fighters Jojo (red) and Yodpetaek (blue), two top young fighters are 12 and 13 years old, who recently fought to a draw on a high profile fight. Neither of these two fighters meet the weight requirement at 80 lbs. For the latest Thailand Muay Thai News Updates check out our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  8. [Update edit Nov 8: This fight to have been rescheduled for November 13 see source, it was at first set for November 6th. But with some disappointment, the card which previously held this fight to be a full 5 round fight, now is listed as a 3 round fight, which certainly alters some of the feeling of what I've written below. The fight will not be a traditional full rules 5 round Muay Thai fight.] [Update edit: Nov 14: The full fight video is posted below. The 3 round fight was changed again back to a 5 round fight, but at least one of the fighters did not know it was 5 rounds until the end of the 3rd round.] While some coverage of the Sanaejan vs Buakaw fight expressed the idea that it was the first time women had fought "at" Lumpinee stadium, it unfortunately due to COVID restrictions at the time did not occur "in" the stadium, and even more importantly IN the ring of Lumpinee. It was a significant step toward integration yet it occurred in a temporary studio ring in the parking structure next to Lumpinee Stadium, in keeping with Bangkok requirements that fights be unenclosed. What that fight represented as a first really was the fact that the Lumpinee name was attached to a promotion featuring female fighters. A huge first - though there have been unconfirmed claims of female fights at Lumpinee, I believe in an alternate ring in the late 60s - for women to be represented in this way. But, historically the more concrete and stigmatizing barrier to women fighting at Lumpinee stadium were beliefs that surrounded the blessing of the ring itself. Sylvie did a good piece on this prohibition here. The prohibition was not that women could not fight on Lumpinee owned land, or under the auspices of its promotion. It was that they could not physically enter...or even touch the Lumpinee Ring, for fear of pollution. (I suspect that the increased intensity of prohibition from entering the ring to even touching the ring may have been due to western tourists over the decades coming closer to the ring physically, though this is just a guess. In the video record you can see female gym owners in the Golden Age, perhaps in a break with decorum, come up to the Lumpinee apron and lean or pound on it, yelling at their fighters.) In any case, when female fighters actually ENTER the ring, this is the historic moment. This moment confronts the very well-defined and belief bound line that separated the genders. This fight, between Celest Hansen (AUS) vs Nongnook R. R. Gila Khorat (THAI), is the anticipation of that crossing. This will happen without audience present, with some COVID restrictions still in place. Things like fight promotions do change very quickly in Thailand, so hopefully this Nov 6 event happens as scheduled, but it does seem women actually fighting not only in the stadium, but IN the Lumpinee Ring is something that is about to occur. I would be very curious as to how the issue of the blessing of the ring and the long-held beliefs that barred women have been adjusted to. Is the ring no longer blessed in the same way, with the same practices? Many blessed rings throughout Thailand allow women to enter their spaces, but Lumpinee may have undergone specific more orthodox rites. At the very least we are seeing a shift in beliefs and opportunities, and the way that gender itself is regarded in Thailand's Muay Thai fight culture. Other articles written by Sylvie on women and Lumpinee: Women in Lumpinee, Thai Female Fighters in the 1990s or my earlier thoughts: Can Bleed Like Man: Lumpinee, Muay Thai, Culture Navigating Western Feminism, Traditional Thailand and Muay Thai [Edit in a historical clarification: Nongtoom Kiatbusaba, The Beautiful Boxer, famously and historically was the first transgender fighter to fight at Lumpinee stadium in 1998, presenting as male, and Angie Petchrungruang in 2017 was the first, visibly presenting as female, transgender fighter at Lumpinee Stadium. Both were allowed to enter the Lumpinee ring because they were regarded as male by the establishment, under the system of beliefs that prohibited women. The Lumpinee fights of both women were steps to today's integration of cis women in the Lumpinee ring.] If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  9. When Lumpinee Stadium moved from its old location in Bangkok to its new location in Ram Intra, it became known as "New Lumpinee." They gave it a whole makeover, creating a modernized (at that time) experience with LED screens, fold-down seats in the ticketed seating areas (gamblers still have bench-like stadium seating; they pay also, but their tickets are very cheap), and a kind of peripheral inclusion of a massage shop, equipment and apparel stores... a more "high end" Lumpinee from its roots. Now that Covid has created a chain-reaction of changes to Lumpinee, including who is running it and a complete change of guard in who is promoting there, the New Lumpinee is quickly becoming the "New New Lumpinee." Part of that change is the inclusion of women fighting on the GoSport promotion, something that is a truly huge change, paired with the exclusion of gambling. The two main players in New New Lumpinee are "Big Dang," the military officer who is in charge of the venue itself. Beside him (and just under him in terms of power) is Mr. Chai, who is the head of GoSport, the new main promotional operator within the stadium. You can hear Kevin and me talk about the complex realities of having a "outsider" running the main operations for promoting, the pros and cons therein, in our latest Muay Thai Bones episode. This stub article is about Big Dang and Mr. Chai's plans for the ongoing development of New New Lumpinee. Essentially, Big Dang's main concern is severing gambling from Muay Thai. He says that they want to switch focus from the gambling-driven audience of contemporary Muay Thai to, what he's calling here, a "traditional scoring" focus. He doesn't give any kind of explanation for what he views as traditional, but he is emphasizing a focus on transparency and fairness in refereeing and judging, while simultaneously saying he wants "traditional" scoring and not some kind of new "international" appeal... which is good, in my view, as long as there is a clear idea of what he's talking about. He also says he is asking Mr. Chai, the head of GoSport, to put on one big card per month. Currently there are shows every weekend, so there are still 4 shows per month, but Big Dang appears to be asking for a kind of big draw promotion with titles, big names, something that gets viewers excited to watch the fights. There are still no audience permitted to watch any of these shows, so I don't know whether he's anticipating when they will be welcomed in again (with no gambling), or whether he means a show that will be widely watched online.
  10. As a bit of background, Muay Thai promotions are going on in Thailand but they are very limited. The Bangkok promoters, namely Petchyindee and Giatpetch, are having their biggest shows in Buriram (Isaan) as Bangkok was until recently completely shut down. Entertainment promotions like Muay Hardcore and Superchamp (what Sylvie calls "Channel 8" if you listen to our Muay Thai Bones podcast) relocated from a Bangkok night market to Phuket right around the time Thailand implemented the "Phuket Sandbox" as a soft reopening to international tourism. Num Nui is the head of the Singpatong Gym on Phuket, as well as the promoter at the Patong Stadium (one of two major stadia on Phuket), and currently hosts the Channel 8 shows in his stadium. He also appears to be the head of this new coalition to unify and coordinate on Phuket. I jokingly called him the "Sia Boat of the South" to Kevin this morning (Sia Boat is the head of Petchyindee Gym, a legacy to one of the biggest promoters from the Golden Age, and more or less the self-appointed ambassador for Muay Thai right now). So all that is to say that Phuket is a bit of a hot-spot for Muay Thai right now, as it has permissions that most other parts of Thailand do not (due to the Sandbox) and is hosting weekly shows that are widely viewed around the world. Yesterday there was a meeting on Phuket between a huge number of gyms, mostly a hybrid of Muay Thai tourism and fighter gym, meaning their main business is not producing fighters but they do, in fact, have some fighters. It's interesting that part of this meeting was to encourage gyms to work together and even establish standards (both in training, hiring of trainers, fees, etc) among gyms to - it's not stated but I imagine the only inference - mitigate competition between them. Gyms on Phuket are hugely competitive with one another, from poaching trainers to competing for customers. So, it's a big ask to have them start coordinating. So yesterday there was this big meeting with all these Phuket gyms in attendance: Venum, Sinbi, Powerhouse, Phuket Fight Club, Singpatong, Sit Muatwian, Oleydong, Eagle Muay Thai, Sutai, Rawai, Phuketsing, Lamai, Phanna, Tiger, Maximum, Koh Muay Thai, Chalamkhao, Nawa, Suragit, Big Ben, Jay Power Roof, Revolution (formerly Sitsongpeenong), Petch P.T.O, and Phuket Top Team. The meeting notes are as follows: 1) Discussion of promoting Hardcore and Superchamp ("Entertainment") as well as 5 round Muay Thai "online" (no audience is yet allowed). 2) Working to benefit boxers for working together, including awarding camps "bonus money" every 3 months as incentive to produce televised fighters, winning fights, etc. 3) Num Nui (head of Singpatong Gym and Patong Boxing Stadium) affirmed his experience in both promoting Muay Thai shows as well as producing fighters (he is responsible for western stars like Damian Alamos, Rafi Bohic, and recently Mathias). He encouraged everyone to work together under the aim of producing "fun" fights (this word in Thai means fun to watch, exciting, entertaining, etc) and told everyone that if he makes any mistakes he encourages anyone and everyone to come talk to him. He assured everyone that this committee is not exclusive in the sense that fighters have to notify any head of the group if they have a promotion elsewhere (this is a common practice among promotions, to more or less "own" their fighters against competing promotions, without actually signing any kind of contract). He also said everyone can relax as the aim of the new promotion of shows is without gambling. 4) If any member of this group of gyms feels that referees are acting/ruling unfairly or disagree with judging, they are welcome to approach the committee, 5) They intend to make a referee/judge's focus on striking as the main factor in scoring, as well as a "diligent" fighter (meaning they don't give up, pedal backwards, hesitate or become lazy if they have the lead). Interestingly, in their point about fights being "fun" and entertaining to watch, they distinctly make the point that folks who do not know "how to watch Muay Thai" (meaning they aren't familiar with scoring or the sport's nuances) should still find the fights fun to watch. The audience should feel comfortable and "not stressed" in watching the fight. This resembles the new Entertainment Muay Thai scoring aesthetic which typifies 3 round fights. 6) A secondary emphasis on gyms not having to notify the committee if their fighters have fights on other shows; again saying anyone is free to come talk about anything, any time. 7) Num Nui makes an interesting point here that I recently noted in something Karuhat said to me, he distinguishes a difference between a kaimuay (Muay Thai camp) and a gym. The former produces fighters as their main focus, the latter is a business and has "international benefits." He states, however, that this committee is aimed at building both fighters and gyms. He says that when a gym produces good fighters, who fight on TV in "fun to watch" bouts, it will promote international business coming to the camp "automatically." He says this is a way to promote and improve Muay Thai, to advertise internationally through televised Muay Thai, both "entertainment" and 5 round shows. This meeting was held on November 14, 2021. These sorts of unifying meetings are happening at this time, coverage of a scoring unification meeting: If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  11. I follow a number of Thai language news sources, collections of old photos and programs, etc. Many interesting things come out of these resources, but every now and again I'm shocked by what I find. Recently, I saw a post about a fighter who had been very successful in Muay Thai but suffered an accident with a gun misfiring, leading to an injury which made it so he could not fight anymore. He'd always been heavy-handed as a fighter, so he decide to try Western Boxing (I guess the injury was such that this was still possible, but Muay Thai was not) and became WBC Asian champion, as well as currently standing as ranked #12 for 122 lb WBC World title. That's obviously amazing and I shared it with Kevin. His face even seemed familiar to me but not like I knew him from somewhere, just seemed like he looked like someone I do know. I kept digging to see what kind of Muay Thai career he'd had. Sources said he had over 200 fights, which means he grew up in the sport. As a Boxer, he fights under his legal name, which most Muay Thai fighters do not, but eventually I happened upon his Muay Thai name: Petchatchai.... I know that name; and now I know that face. "Holy shit," I said to Kevin, "it would be absolutely crazy but this might be Chatchainoi's son." More digging... there's a photo. We recently added Chatchainoi to the Muay Thai Library. He is nicknamed the "Man of Stone" in Thai, and his son, as a boxer, carries the name "Rock Man," in phonetic Thai to be said like the English. Chatchainoi leaves absolutely no question to how he got this nickname; he's hard as a fighter, relentless, small and compact but brave and imposing. He comes from the "first class" of Dejrat fighters, under the tutelage of Arjan Surat, who is himself a very hard man and demands toughness like very few trainers still do today. It makes total sense that Chatchainoi's son would be this invincible. He actually has two sons, the younger is called Chatchainoi also and is gearing up for a boxing fight himself. I'd seen him training at Dejrat before. Like his father and brother, he is just hard. Here is a highlight of 11 KO finishes by "Rock Man" Chainoi Worawut aka Petchatchai: And Chatchainoi the Jr, fights with his father's same fight name: Chatchainoi Chaoraioi If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  12. There has been repeated criticism, for years really, about the outcome of fights in the main stadia of Bangkok: Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, Omoi, and Channel 7. Everything is usually brought into shorthand as being sullied by "gambling" and those betting on fights having too much influence over the wins and losses. Sometimes it is pretty blatant; sometimes I don't see why there's an argument, other than maybe from people who lost money themselves. That argument isn't particularly interesting in that it will always be present, always has been present, and isn't particularly fixable. What is interesting is that there are a few strings that attach to this criticism that make it "modern" rather than just the same old squeak on the same old wheel. Firstly, gambling is under serious attack ever since the first wave of Covid in March of last year. You can hear me and Kevin discuss this a bit in our newest Muay Thai Bones episode, but the first big "cluster" of Covid in Thailand stemmed from an event at Lumpinee and was blamed on gamblers. As a result, as Thailand has employed shutdowns and soft re-openings to deal with the pandemic, Muay Thai has been hard-hit by the restrictions and the start-and-stop approach to promotions has made promoters very sensitive, very eager to obey rules and regulations, and Lumpinee's head "Big Dang," has gone hard after the aim of eliminating gambling from Muay Thai shows at all. More established promotions like Petchyindee, Giatpetch, Chefboontham, Omnoi and Channel 7 have not aligned their voices to this aim of eliminating gambling, but they have enforced rules at their promotions (most of which are taking place outside of Bangkok, whereas normally they all would be within Bangkok) which limit the number of audience members permitted to attend the live shows. This is meant to be a measure to reduce public contact, but it's also painted as a means to control gambling as well. (The audience is mainly comprised of gamblers, anywhere.) This is a piece of news in the form of an announcement from Sia Boat, the head of Petchyindee Academy and co-head of the Petchyindee promotions (his father made the name as one of the major promoters in the Golden Age and is probably the biggest promotion now, alongside Giatpetch, who also goes back to the Golden Age but at Channel 7, not Lumpinee and Rajadamnern). Sia Boat basically took the helm when Covid locked down Muay Thai last year. He is very famous, his family is very wealthy, and as legacy promoters he has a lot of authority beyond his age (early 30s). He acts as an ambassador between the "Muay Thai community," which is gyms, fighters, promoters... everyone who makes Muay Thai actually happen... and the Sport Authority of Thailand, which is government power making decisions but not necessarily making any of the wheels actually turn. Sia Boat proposed that a way to solve the criticisms of corruption in Muay Thai is to codify and make uniform scoring and refereeing across all stadia. This is something that Muay Thai fans outside of Thailand may not be aware of, that there are codified rules - like no plowing, what's a foul, the rule that a referee who suspects a fight is being thrown can stop a fight on those grounds and send both fighters out of the ring, etc. A recent discussion is about referees stopping a fight if the fighters are not engaging enough in rounds 1-4, for example, which has recently gone into effect. But the scoring between stadia is recognized and known among Thai fighters, gyms, trainers, cornermen, etc. And it's been this way for a long time. It's not written out, it's just tendencies because referees and judges don't tend to cross between the main venues, just like fighters didn't cross between promoters in the Golden Age, or very much now. Arjan Surat once explained to me and Kevin that Rajadamnern favored fighters who demonstrate technique, whereas Lumpinee favors fighters who "dern" or are more forward in their fights. So, a fighter like Silapathai would do great at Rajadamnern and maybe struggle a bit in Lumpinee, against the same opponent and fighting the exact same way, simply due to how those judges and referees look at a fight. In this recent rule change about fighters being warned and then thrown out of the ring if they don't engage, the venue most affected by this standardization of governing fights mostly affects Channel 7. There were meetings held about whether they need to fire all their officials, referees and judges in order to elimitate corrupt players, but ultimately this "engagement" rule has thrown that possibility into the future. Sia Boat's proposal to the Sport Authority of Thailand has been accepted by the head of that committee, although what it will entail remains to be announced and or seen. Personally, I think it's a dubious card on the table. If they make their standards in line with the Muay Thai that's fun to watch, in line with traditional practices and scoring, maintaining "Thai" Muay Thai, it's great. If they standardize it more toward the "international" and "entertainment" models, it's terrible. If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  13. One of the more compelling female Muay Thai fights happened this week, a WBC Super Flyweight, Muay Thai World Title fight between Souris Manfredi (France) and Dangkongfah Soujainoi (Thai). The fight itself was action-packed, and also pitted quite different fighting styles and skill sets against each other, enough to make it interesting on its own, but perhaps even more so, the stories behind the fight and what it meant brings interest and thought to the match-up. I'm writing here to call in a few more of those details to bring more attention to the fight, and its place in the development of female Muay Thai. Sadly, at this point in female Muay Thai fight history even big fights like this just get an Instagram post with a belt, a few shares and vanish. Instead, there are deep stories and lives that come together in these fights worth writing about. The importance of the fight may start here, with the WBC world rankings of female fighters (below, the top 10 listed in the weight class of this title - unfortunately due to an update typo Stamp is listed twice). The WBC over the last 6 months or so has been working hard to develop a world ranking for female Muay Thai fighters with an international scope in mind. It's extremely hard to grasp Thai and western, and Asian female fighter fight scenes in a single list. They are so diverse, and the Thai landscape changes so quickly, it has felt like a Herculean task to even come close to something fair, timely and accurate. The WBC has thrown all its effort into this, so much so it seems that the competing WMO has followed suit and attempted their own rankings recently. The WBC's is here, the WMO's is here. It's actually good to have competing orgs attempting to build pictures of female fighting excellence because it's so hard to do. As someone close to the pulse of female Muay Thai in Thailand I can see where these rankings can fall short, simply because logistically you have to rely on a select few as advisers, people who are in the game, and each will have their own political alliances, fighters they necessarily are connected to. It's just the reality of rankings as they are very difficult to create, and organizations that work hard to make and maintain them deserve great credit. With two organizations creating rankings though it helps fill in the gaps any one might have. In any case, this was a huge fight in the context of the WBC's effort. They had already had their first WBC belt fight between two Thai female fighters, Sanaejan and Buakaw, with Sanaejan winning the belt at Mini-Flyweight, a fight fought in the Lumpinee parking lot improvised studio due to COVID restrictions - otherwise it would have been the first female fight in Lumpinee Stadium itself, an epic moment in Thai history - the first fight IN Lumpinee Stadium has been scheduled, read about that here. This fight between Souris and Dangkongfah represented the very first to reflect the wide-scope goals of the WBC, the international aims, as it pitted a very solid, experienced fighter from the west vs a very solid, experienced fighter from Thailand, top ranked, bringing the two worlds together. One can get the feeling that these preliminary rankings are in part assembled in order to put on these kinds of fights, for instance opponents can suddenly be added to the Top 10 rankings at the last minute before proposed matchups, but the reality is that we have to start somewhere. We have to start with a picture of the best, and then the best can start fighting each other and determining a truer sense of what an accurate ranking might be. This is exactly that kind of fight. It's the first time under the new WBC ranking system that western and Thai well-known, acknowledged fighters faced off, to create a real hierarchy, and this is exciting stuff. You can see the fight here below, an edit from Dangkongfah's corner Facebook stream: There's more to this match up than meets the eye too. There is a history between these two fighters, and for Dangkongfah a really compelling story that has covered maybe the last 5 years. If I'm not mistaken, Souris had beaten Dangkongfah several years ago in Khorat, in a fight that Dangkongfah protested as a dubious decision. This was earlier in Souris's development as a fighter, when she was with her coach Charleton in his gym in Khorat (both fighters were local to Khorat at that time). They were way off the beaten path, training and fighting away from the bigger shows that people in the west hear about. It's very hard to go your own way in Thailand, so serious props to both of them, (forgive me, as close as I follow female Muay Thai, the details on this are a bit muddy, I'm just trying to draw a broad brush). Surely this victory was a meaningful one. Dangkongfah was, I also believe, simply a young circuit festival fighter at the time, and I'm guessing was up in weight, so likely had that advantage. In fact Sylvie had a remarkable experience with Dangkongfah several years ago when fighting up in Khorat. A (then) pudgy young fighter who was drawn to Sylvie for some reason inserted herself into Sylvie's corner (Sylvie had no corner for this fight and just collected one from the local krus on the mats), and helped urge Sylvie onto victory. You can see clips of this here. We've had some pretty amazing experiences in Isaan, but finding this assertive, confident girl in support may have topped them all. She was full of vitality, confidence, a kind of magnetic enthusiasm. In fact, after the fight she told Sylvie that she wanted to fight her, "just for fun." Sylvie just laughed. Dangkongfah was 16 years old (looked 14 to us) and we guessed close to 60 kg (Sylvie is consistently around 46 kg). You can see that fight and her in Sylvie's corner here. Dangkongfah had won her own fight fairly spectacularly, earlier on the same card. In any case, it introduced us to this incredible energy of a girl. Maybe a year or two later we heard that Fairtex had taken in Dangkongfah, a bit after they had taken on Stamp, starting their commitment to develop a female Muay Thai and MMA fight team. This was in the very beginning of it all. I don't want to be hard about it, but just to generalize from talking to others close to the situation, at the time the feeling seemed to be that Stamp was the real, serious prospect. Stamp was maybe a top 5 female fighter in her weight class in Thailand at the time, coming off a difficult, somewhat blowout loss to Phetjee Jaa, but beating Sylvie at 48 kg. Dangkongfah was instead an overweight, Isaan festival circuit fighter, a funny girl, who was taken on in a different way. There were stories of her being without means of support, I believe, though I'm not sure how much that was so. Her father is the famous fighter Kongfah, for whom she is named. It's enough to say that it may have been a bit of a feeling of charity and generosity in how she was taken in at this early stage of their female fight team, an out-reach from the Fairtex side, not expecting a star prospect. She and Stamp were the first two female fighters of Fairtex. Stamp then was molded into a ONE Championship superstar, and at some point Dangkongfah, having worked very hard to get into significantly better shape while there, left Fairtex. It's difficult to describe this position she was in with enough force. Thai female fighters until a few years ago, had very few career opportunities by the time they turn 18. The best female Thai Muay Thai fighters were all 14 or 15 when they were fighting as prize-fighters very frequently, in the circuits, developing great skill and game-finesse, but once they hit about 16 everything pretty much starts to shut off. You could join the Thai National team and be awarded big money from the government if you get Gold at IFMA World Championships. You could maybe occasionally fight a high-profile fight for a big dermpan, but your training inevitably tails off, your fight opportunities tail off. When Dangkongfah left Fairtex (and I don't know the circumstances of that), she was literally looking at the end of opportunity. She was not that developed in terms of skill, but certainly rich in experience. She was not the best circuit fighter in Isaan, like someone like Loma was. She had just left a huge name in Fairtex that was at the cusp of investing lots of money, and lots of will into building and promoting Thai female fighters. Fighters like Wondergirl and now Dokmaibaa have since joined the team. And Stamp took off like a rocketship, not only as a fighter, but a promoted fighter with a prominent fight program invested in building her name and career. Dangkongfah stepped out of that wake, into what really might be expected to be Muay Thai oblivion, for a Thai female fighter. But...fueled by the example of ONE promotional success, when Channel 8 broke from its MAX Muay Thai contract they started their own version of MAX, with two weekend shows in Superchamp and Muay Hardcore. Whereas MAX had barred women from the ring (Sylvie is one of only 4 female fighters who ever fought in MAX Stadium), the Channel 8 fights did the opposite. They took the lead from ONE and made female fighters, in fact it was Thai female fighters, their headline stars. First, it was Sawsing, a natural star given that she had long been one of the best female fighters in Thailand, but then, interestingly enough, they took on Dangkongfah as a headline fighter as well. From the outside, it would seem like they plucked her out of nowhere. She was not riding a long wave of success, at least not outside a very local scene. She was just an Isaan fighter who hadn't fought very much recently (because she'd been at Fairtex) but with a big heart and energy. But, she matched the Entertainment Muay Thai promotional model perfectly. I've written a lot about how worrisome the Entertainment Muay Thai rulesets can be as a threat to traditional Muay Thai, but...they are also an opportunity. And Dangkongfah thrived under the format. She ascended. What I really love about her as a fighter is how much she defies the passionate westerner perceptions of Muay Thai excellence. We have fantasies of incredible crispness and balance, the effortless gliding across the ring, the impression that you are above the fight through skill and acumen. There are so many examples. You look at Dangkongfah and you see none of that at first blush. But I'll tell you, she is a fighter who has earned with experienced qualities that are intimately Thai, those of the Thai fighter. It's just not the things that appear easily to the eye. It isn't demo-perfect Muay Thai. It's the Muay of experience, it's "bones", as Thais call it. It's the Muay of prize fighting. Yes, what makes Thailand's Muay Thai so special IS the beauty of techniques...but beneath those techniques is another beauty. It's the beauty of the experiences of fighting itself, since a young age. What is so cool about Dangkongfah as a fighter is that because - unlike many Thai female fighters who do express quite beautiful Muay Thai - she does not have those keynotes that people look at for symbols of excellence that in some Thai female fighters can be a kind of "point fighting", she has the other excellence, the excellence of feeling a fight, directing a fight, knowing how to win a fight, and it shows through. This is not a knock on other fighters, many technically crisp fighters also possess this fight knowledge, but her particular mix of fighting skills allows this very special quality of hers, to shine. The "bones" show. It's not easy to see if you aren't looking for it. So, a bit of digression to bring it out. Many not familiar with Thailand's traditional Muay Thai scoring don't really grasp the importance of a narrative scoring model. You can read more about this here: The Essence of Muay Thai – 6 Core Aspects That Make it What It Is. The narrative model means that you have to tell a story in a fight. Progress in what you reveal, in the tempos and momentums that you choose, and they mean something in terms of what has already happened in the fight. Round 3 means something in relation to rounds 1 and 2. Round 4, in relation to round 3. Dangkongfah has been a prize fighter under narrative scoring since a kid. It's not "damage" or calculated "points", it's how much you control the narrative of the fight. It's how much you dominate, and WHEN. Everything builds to a story of your dominance. This is what she is really good at. And you'll see it in this fight. She has a feeling for when and how. It doesn't matter if punches flail out and are ineffective at some point, or if she momentarily loses balance, it's about when they land, and when she's rock solid. When the car gets rolling, she knows how to push. A lot of Thai female fighters will not risk the loss of control (beauty) to get to where she wants to get. She's very unlike many Thai female fighters that ascend to a wide-spread awareness, and it is easy to underestimate her. She is all the guts and IQ that come from fighting as a prize fighter since a kid. If you want to know what she's about, watch her in rematches. She is ridiculously good at rematching an opponent. I've watched her fight many times. Sylvie has fought her, I've seen her fight twice in person. She has a focus and will in rematches that just controls the game. She escaped with a lucky (probably biased in her favor) draw decision vs Dani on Channel 8, and just ripped her in the rematch despite giving up what seemed like visible size. She beat one of the best fighters in Muay Thai on Channel 8, the brand new ONE Championship Champion Allycia Rodriguez (who had just defeated Stamp for the title), rematching her for the biggest side bet of any female fight in Thai history (1 million Baht) and the Thailand title belt, and totally controlled the fight against someone most would say was technically superior. (At the time Dangkongfah had been using social media to argue that she deserved to fight for ONE, the promotion which made Stamp a star, and then out-right beat their brand new champion, who had defeated Stamp for the title... it was a solid argument.) She firmly beat Souris on Channel 8, in a 3 round rematch from their disputed Khorat fight, and so this WBC fight was again a rematch. Anytime I've seen her rematch she's dominated, almost magically. It's not an accident. And, this fight was coming off her first true loss in years, having lost to Barbara Aguiar on Channel 8. She had something to prove. It was a pretty extraordinary performance, this WBC title fight. Souris Manfredi, though she does not have wins versus other WBC ranked fighters (that I'm aware of) has nonetheless taken on HUGE challenges as a fighter, with tough-fought losses to Phetjee Jaa in Thai Fight (maybe the best female MT fighter in the world), a big weight discrepancy vs top fighter Sawsing on Channel 8 and against Dangkongfah herself. She went to Myanmar to fight and win a Lethwei title, and has fought and won in in a Bare Knuckle promotion in Thailand (a promotion her coach just announced she's now pursuing full time, leaving Muay Thai permanently). Stylistically this is a great fight, because just watching Souris you can see how hard she's trained in specific techniques and positions. She's crisp, sound and exudes discipline and commitment. For instance she has lots of early success with nice straight punches that seem to pop through a seemingly porous guard. She looks superior. She presents Muay Thai in a highly trained, well-defined way that is clearly visible to the eye. You can feel that she's worked extremely hard at developing herself. Because we in the West kind of exoticize the precision of Thailand's Muay Thai, we work very hard at tracing those perfect lines, and capturing them in combination. What is so interesting and cool about this fight is that Dangkongfah, somewhat unusually, doesn't have that supposedly "Thai" precision. A legend we know privately wrinkled his nose at Dangkongfah's victory over Alycia, preferring the latter's technique even though the win was clear. A coach might look at her on tape and think: she's full of holes, she's easy to pick off. You can make game plans, and be right about it all...but just try. She has something deeper than technique. She has a feel for the game, she's been a prize fighter since she was young. She made this in the festival fight circuit of Isaan, where "pretty" isn't really what it's about. It's about taking that sidebet when its up for grabs, controlling the narrative and it's about heart. It's a deeper lesson of what fighting is. It isn't picture-book. The Muay Sok legend Yodkhunpon once told us of growing up in the fighting rings of his boyhood Isaan "points are for Bangkok". Drawing from another sport, in baseball you talk about pitchers who have amazing "stuff", and then you talk about pitchers who know how to win even if they don't have great stuff. Dangkongfah is that kind of pitcher, she knows how to win. The final context of this fight is even more remarkable. The fight took place in an improvised ring at the Fairtex Training Facility in Pattaya, the very same place she was the Cinderella step-sister of now world famous Stamp. In fact everyone in attendance to this title fight watched Stamp go through training a few hours BEFORE this fight. One cannot help but feel Dangkongfah herself took into the ring with her that contrast between Stamp and herself, the one who Fairtex embraced and built and she herself who went her own road. Here she was fighting for the WBC World Title in the very same space she was in when she was a pudgy funny-girl from Isaan. Finding herself there in that ring in Fairtex was an unexpected twist of fates. This World Title fight was actually supposed to be the showcase fight under the Lumpinee banner under GoSport's new push to create a different kind of promotion for Lumpinee Stadium. A New Lumpinee. When first proposed I imagine there may have even have been a chance that this fight was going to be the first ever INSIDE the ring of Lumpinee (which has at the time of this writing not happened yet but is scheduled), and maybe even for a WBC belt and a Lumpinee belt (early promotional material from GoSport had both belts advertised on female fights). But, as it happened, GoSport and the WBC had a disagreement, the contract for the belt experienced complications, and the fight found itself on this promotion, Full Metal Muay Thai, put on in the Fairtex facilities due to COVID restrictions. It's enough to say, this fight took a swerve from a possible pinnacle place in Muay Thai history, to a place of personal importance for Dangkongfah. Not Lumpinee, but at Fairtex where she once may have been underestimated. This is the underdog girl. Sawsing, who had come with her family and team of Thai female fighters to support Dangkongfah, posted this photo of the WBC belt on the hood of the car they drove down in from Singburi, that's how special it was for them. Interestingly enough Yannick, a Frenchman who owned Warriors gym in Pattaya, is the generous man who held the contract for the belt. He had purchased the belt (a significant expense) because he felt felt that it was ridiculous that a fighter who becomes World Champion does not get to keep the physical belt in Thailand. Many do not know this, but this is true of Lumpinee belts, Rajadamnern belts, pretty much all belts. So he in real generosity also purchased the belt itself to go to the winner. One imagines he hoped that this belt would go to Souris Manfredi, who also from France. Instead it was wrested away by the festival fighting girl from Isaan, the remarkable, incredible Dangkongfah. If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings and things to inspire: sign up for our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
  14. Below is my paraphrase of some Facebook talk between ex-fighters and legends of the Hapalang gym, the famed gym of the Golden Age which produced 3 FOTYs in Dieselnoi, Chamuakphet and Panomtuanlek. The gym's manager was murdered at Lumpinee between rounds, during Chaumuakphet and Langsuan. This is the posted photo that gave them to talk about it. Dieselnoi on the Hapalang photo, paraphrased: ...time flies by so quickly. Looking at this photo and thinking of all the boxers there every day, different weights, packed from earth to the sky. It didn't matter fight purse or training for a fight, we had parents back home in different provinces, but we could never go visit, even if they were ill. "What are you, a doctor? Are you going to heal them?" You'd only get short answers as news, barely knowing whether they had recovered yet. Two more comments relay that fighters ran away from the camp within 2 or 3 years due to not having money, or being worked so hard in training and fights without benefit. One remarks how he was there at the time that Sia Nao sold the gym to pay a gambling debt and then was killed not long after. Panomtuanlek comments briefly to Dieselnoi's comment, "Yes, I don't even know how to describe how it was."
  15. You can see the phantom "knockout" elbow here Just a quick synopsis of the "Lohm Muay" story, from what I picked up watching the story in Thai. Fahwanmai, whose name means "sky of a new day" was taken under Sia Boat's wing after he great deal of money gambling on a fight that Sangmanee lost. Sia Boat paid off the debt and took Fahwanmai in (named him as well) to the very powerful Petchyindee gym where he has become an internet celebrity and fighter since. He's fought maybe 4-5 times for Petchyindee and most recently against Lahnyamo Wor. Wattana in a televised show in Buriram. Fahwanmai was winning rounds 1-3 and then suddenly going into round 4 the odds suddenly shifted to favor Lahnyamo (5/2). Then in that round it looked like Fahwanmai suddenly couldn't handle his opponent and he was knocked out by an elbow, leaving him writhing on the canvas. Slow motion replay showed the elbow barely grazed him and the cries of a thrown fight were immediately circulating online. There is video of Sia Boat calling on the phone and Fahwanmai backstage swearing he didn't throw the fight. By the next day he had written a confession and named both who hired him and the price (500,000 baht with 30,000 of it up front). Sia Boat then went live for an hour on Facebook and detailed the situation (with more than 20,000 viewers), as well as naming the culprit as Udom Chalee (pictured below), the former head of a gym who 25 years ago paid a fighter named Chalamkaw to throw a fight, ruining his career as a fighter in a very famous case. Now Chalee owns and runs a buffalo farm in Nakhon Naiyok. Sia Boat intends to prosecute both Udom Chalee and Fahwanmai with a hoped result of jail time for both. He has also divulged that another fighter on a recent card was offered to take a dive but refused, told Sia Boat, won his fight and Sia boat has given the gambler the option to turn himself in for a light punishment or else if he doesn't come forward Sia Boat intends to prosecute him fully as well. Gambling in Muay Thai is at the forefront of "politics" at the moment and, while circumstantially legal, in a Buddhistic culture it is a morally loaded topic. above: Sia Boat Petchyindee, Fahwanmai and Udom Chalee previously If you want the latest in Muay Thai happenings read our Muay Thai Bones Newsletter
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