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Matt G

Betting and implications for fighting

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Hello all,

 

I went to watch fights last night with members and trainers of the gym I have been training at and looking to book myself a fight with and experienced something that just did not sit well with me. I am not sure whether this is just something that is a cultural difference or whether it would not sit well with others as well. I am aware that Thailand is the wild west of getting fights as Sylvie writes here http://8limbs.us/blog/real-reality-fight-matchups-thailand

There was a foreigner fighting out of the gym I have been training at. I am not sure how long they have been training there or at any other gym, but were representing the gym. There were bets being placed all night, on various fighters. However one of the trainers advised to bet against the fighter representing the gym. They then took it a step further and once the bet was placed asked to be in on the bet themselves.

I am up for fighting a more experienced or heavier opponent but what I saw was one step beyond this. I know that no gym in the west would do something like this, or not any that I have trained at. It makes me leery of accepting a fight out of this gym as I am not sure if they would really be in my corner or are placing bets against me and booking me against an opponent looking to make money from me losing.

All opinions on this are greatly appreciated.

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I am up for fighting a more experienced or heavier opponent but what I saw was one step beyond this. I know that no gym in the west would do something like this, or not any that I have trained at. It makes me leery of accepting a fight out of this gym as I am not sure if they would really be in my corner or are placing bets against me and booking me against an opponent looking to make money from me losing.

All opinions on this are greatly appreciated.

 

Hopefully Sylvie jumps on this later because I'd love to know what she thinks, but I can say as her husband that it would not surprise me at all if some of her trainers indeed placed bets against her in fights. I know this sounds terrible, and a strong conflict of interest, but the way it feels at many times is that it is really up to the fighter to convince his or her trainers that he or she is the right bet, both during training and during fights (betters don't just bet on who will win, but also bet during the fight and will often hedge their bets). A lot of the betting that goes on is simply out of view of westerners who are fighting. Does this mean that you might get set up in an unfavorable match up? Possibly. But the general experience is that your trainers want to build you up and make you the best fighter that you can be, and they want to bet on you as well.

This being said, "representing the gym" and understanding all the relationships that are in place long before you got there, and long after you go is very complex. No gym in the west would do this because gyms in the west don't make their income on students that are only with them for a few weeks to months most of the time. Also betting on Muay Thai fights in the west is not an important part of the fabric of fighting. More or less Muay Thai IS gambling in Thailand. We just don't see it.

At the end of it all most matchups I've seen in person between farang and Thai in tourist areas have felt like they favored the westerner if anyone, usually with size.

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I've seen this as well Matt. It is pretty normal for Thailand I think, but certainly a conflict of interest in Western culture! Gambling here is also very very....complex. Lol it's not as simple as betting for one fighter or the other as we would do in the West. Odds change between rounds, and that has the potential to lure in even those who would not normally be tempted to bet against their own fighters. I wouldn't sweat it too much.

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I would caution you against taking this to mean that the trainers are "setting the fighter up," as well as against interpreting this as no big deal. It's kind of in the middle. But as Tyler points out, not terribly uncommon (or at least not unheard of), but also gambling is so complex. I also second Kevin's notes that by and large fights are set up with the interest of the camp's own fighter having advantages.

I train at two gyms and fight out of both. This is great for me in some ways and highly problematic in others. It deserves a blog post and I'll get there. But the point is that one of my gyms kind of shit-talks the other and my trainer there tries to "expose" the other gym by telling me that they bet against me. To be clear, there's no single bet from the gym - there are multiple bets at all times. So, not only are multiple players from one gym placing different bets, but a single player may place bets on both sides or on multiple outcomes. Just the simple statement "they bet against you," feels shitty. But I don't really care. I'd rather have someone on my side bet against me than try to get me to pretend to lose the first two rounds (I'm asked this a lot), or to try to make arrangements for the outcome of a fight with my opponent (this happened once up north and I refused to play along, telling my trainer I'd rather he just bet against me than try to "arrange" within a fight). And for this particular example that my one trainer was using to accuse my other gym, there was a big side-bet on my fight but my opponent suddenly refused to make weight. So there was still money on me, but money also went to other options because now the fight wasn't as it was supposed to be. They agreed to put x-Baht on the fight if we weighed in the same but maybe they don't believe I can win as easily when my opponent shows up heavier; so they have some money riding on me but also put money on the odds so that if I lose it's not so much of a deficit from the overall bet. I'm okay with that and I get it. Further, even if a person from my camp did just straight up bet against me, I'd consider it a bad bet - he can lose money and learn to bet on me that way.

All that said, as long as your gym isn't setting up bad matches in order to bet against their fighters and make money, I'd say it's something you can dismiss as a difference in business. If they're feeding their fighters into bad matches, bet or no bet, it's a shitty practice.

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Thanks for the quick replies! After a great training session this morning and reading the responses I am feeling much better mentally regarding my upcoming fight. I now have the mindset of go ahead and bet against me, you are going to lose to your money. 

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