Everyone is talking about Buakaw’s loss to a Russian fighter last night in Hong Kong. I stopped into my usual grocer and was at the checkout counter when one of the baggers behind me started going on and on about Buakaw’s cuts in the fight – for those that haven’t heard, he bled a lot and he lost for the first time in a very long while. He hadn’t seen the fight, he’d just briefly read a 20 word description on the cover of Muay Siam Daily, a Muay Thai newspaper in Thai that covers the scene, that I was currently purchasing. The guy bagging my groceries, hearing the excited story about Buakaw very politely didn’t look at the Muay Siam that he was trying to put into a plastic bag, but I could tell he wanted to, so I reached over and flipped it so he could see the tiny picture of a bloodied Buakaw on the front. As I did this I was kind of turned toward the bagger who was talking about Buakaw, just as he was saying “daek, daek,” (cut, cut); it happens that I have a very prominent scar on my face from a recent cut and as this guy saw me turn he looked a bit shocked and shut up. I smiled and said, “daek yer,” (many cuts) to the bagger, a young guy maybe 20 years old, and he smiled back.
I asked if he’d seen the fight and he said he hadn’t. So I started telling him how Buakaw had actually gotten much stronger as it went on and had maybe lost because it was a tournament, although I do think the Russian did enough to win outright. “He just kept getting tagged with that elbow,” I said, in my wonky Thai. I started telling him that part of it seemed to be that the Russian was southpaw, which left Buakaw more open on that side. The guy said he didn’t understand, so there in the market I told him to stand “normal” (sorry, Lefties: I don’t know a fancy word like Orthodox in Thai) and I stood southpaw, showing him how our jabs would interrupt each other. “But this side,” I said in Thai, and I launched a slow and controlled long left elbow toward him… and he yelped and ran behind one of the checkout counters. “I’m not going to hurt you!” I protested and in that moment realized that every single checkout line had stopped to watch the demo that was happening, and had been listening to this whole conversation about Buakaw. It was quite funny.
This store knows me to be a fighter. I go in there sweaty from training nearly every morning and I buy my Muay Thai newspaper every day, new cuts on my face or bruises or whatever. The security guy who blows a whistle and helps people park their cars in the lot had a semi-long chat with me just the other day about how there aren’t women for me to fight in Pattaya. But this little display at the checkout counter takes the cake. The hype might have been about Buakaw’s fight, his bloodied visage and ultimate loss to a much less experienced falang… but I guarantee all they were talking about after I left was the crazy 105 lb farang fighter chick who in Thai blocked out the fight and just scared the hell out of their bagger.
Interactions like this just make my day, and show how much Muay Thai pervades Thai culture. Even in a check-out aisle a fight demo might break out!