Fighting in Isaan
A couple weeks ago I got a message from Thakoon Pongsupha, who owns and runs Sasiprapa Gym in Bangkapi, where I trained and had one fight at the end of my first trip to Thailand. I like Thakoon a lot. He’s a very good businessman and knows how to make things happen but also a very personable man to know and from whom I am willing to take advice.
This message was asking if I could fight on February 9th in Isaan, for a card that would be promoted by Choon Kiatpetch who is a promoter for “Channel 7” – probably the best fight promotion in Thailand now days – and the event would be televised on Channel 11. Thakoon explained that my fight would not be televised but that he was sure the people of Isaan would love to see me fight.
I’m really excited to have an opportunity to fight in Isaan. I have wanted to go to the northeast of Thailand for a long time as I consider it the center of really good, traditional Muay Thai. Many (if not most) of the best fighters come from Isaan – it’s a huge region with a large population but is largely agrarian so young folks looking for work tend to travel outside of Isaan and down to Bangkok where the lucky ones who can find a gym to contract with will continue a career as a NakMuay (fighter). Muay Thai is a way of life for those fighters from Isaan and there’s something very pure about the hard work, no frill and traditional pedagogy of Muay Thai in Isaan that really speaks to my love for the art. The fighters at my camp from Isaan stand out for me in hearing about the way they learned and watching now the way they fight. It’s very beautiful to me.
Actually going to Isaan is more complicated. It’s not really the kind of deal where you can Google a gym and go there. Many gyms in even the most modern and western-friendly areas of Thailand don’t have websites or easy ways to contact them and Isaan is one of the most non-modern, non-familiar with western tourism or influence areas of Thailand. So how do I choose a place at all, let alone a place that will accept a female fighter and a westerner at that? But fighting in Isaan is a great introduction to the province and a great reason to go there, the time, place and purpose already planned out.
The fight is at 45 kg (99.2 lbs) and the girl I’m fighting is probably 14 years old. She already has thirty-something fights, same as I do. Unfortunately, Den can’t come with me because he’s got almost all the Thai boys fighting somewhere outside of Chiang Mai (but much closer) on the 9th. I’d love to have him in my corner and I’ll be fighting my heart to shreds in order to make him proud. Master K will be very happy that I’m fighting someone who isn’t bigger than I am though and getting my name out and representing my trainers and love for Muay Thai to the promoter is about as a big a deal as I could ask for. Very, very exciting!