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Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu

The Hapalang Gym - Dieselnoi and Golden Age Others Comment How Harsh It Was

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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.

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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."

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This is one of the most interesting things for us who laud the excellence of the Golden Age of Muay Thai, and the ages that surround it. The very truth of the matter seems to be: Fighting excellence has come out of great cruelty, intense difficulty, and even injustice. We think somewhat glamorously about things like how Dieselnoi's patron was a mafia boss and godfather, in the Hollywood sense, but this is, in a lived reality, a realm of harshness and crime. The romance we have towards traditional hierarchies include also injustices, and dictatorships in life. Muay Thai (as with so many fighting sports in the world) likely laundered not only slews of monies (gained from cruelty & suffering), but also social statuses. This is the nature of it all. It might be said that it was an immense oppression machine, a compression machine, that produced not only the excellence of these fighters, but also the fights and promotions that produced them.

Talking this over with Sylvie, this seemingly inherent connection between cruelty and fighting excellence, historically, makes me value all the more the precious achievements in Self that people like Dieselnoi, and fighters of his age produced. These men fashioned high art, of themselves, in the harshness of opportunity and circumstance. From where we stand now, it seems like the worse thing of all to forget these men, to forget or lose what they created, out of that harshness. It was that medallion of gold that they mined from their flesh, forged into an art and history. When we remember them, when we document them, we extend its reason for being. Dieselnoi once was talking about the differences between his historical fate and that of Samart, in the context of having beaten him in the fight of the year, The Holy Grail of Fights. He says, he would not have wished upon anyone his fate. He explained that in Thailand it's not how you go along, its how things end. Just like in a 5 round fight, it's the 4th round that matters. For someone like Dieselnoi its the ending that matters, for all of us who are seeking to record and celebrate the creations of these men, the excellence they drew out of extremely harsh circumstances, its about fashioning that ending for them, the one that says: It matters. We can do that now.

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On 10/29/2021 at 7:56 AM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This is one of the most interesting things for us who laud the excellence of the Golden Age of Muay Thai, and the ages that surround it. The very truth of the matter seems to be: Fighting excellence has come out of great cruelty, intense difficulty, and even injustice. We think somewhat glamorously about things like how Dieselnoi's patron was a mafia boss and godfather, in the Hollywood sense, but this is, in a lived reality, a realm of harshness and crime. The romance we have towards traditional hierarchies include also injustices, and dictatorships in life. Muay Thai (as with so many fighting sports in the world) likely laundered not only slews of monies (gained from cruelty & suffering), but also social statuses. This is the nature of it all. It might be said that it was an immense oppression machine, a compression machine, that produced not only the excellence of these fighters, but also the fights and promotions that produced them.

Talking this over with Sylvie, this seemingly inherent connection between cruelty and fighting excellence, historically, makes me value all the more the precious achievements in Self that people like Dieselnoi, and fighters of his age produced. These men fashioned high art, of themselves, in the harshness of opportunity and circumstance. From where we stand now, it seems like the worse thing of all to forget these men, to forget or lose what they created, out of that harshness. It was that medallion of gold that they mined from their flesh, forged into an art and history. When we remember them, when we document them, we extend its reason for being. Dieselnoi once was talking about the differences between his historical fate and that of Samart, in the context of having beaten him in the fight of the year, The Holy Grail of Fights. He says, he would not have wished upon anyone his fate. He explained that in Thailand it's not how you go along, its how things end. Just like in a 5 round fight, it's the 4th round that matters. For someone like Dieselnoi its the ending that matters, for all of us who are seeking to record and celebrate the creations of these men, the excellence they drew out of extremely harsh circumstances, its about fashioning that ending for them, the one that says: It matters. We can do that now.

I think that when I trained in Thailand between 91 and 93 there were very little consessions for farangs. By 97 as more trained in camps in the "tourist areas" it started to change and become more of a business transaction(one way) where farangs paid and chose how much training they did... So many have never actually experienced old school training that forges diamonds. 

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