I’ve been fighting every week for a couple weeks now and I was feeling ready for a short reprieve – nothing fancy, just the regular 10 days I usually have in between. I also wanted to space my fights out such that I could heal from these last two, which left a knot on my shin, and still get two in before an event on the 28th of June for which I’ll have to make weight and do the whole “thing.”
On Thursday I started feeling a bit of a flu, so I finished up afternoon training and went home to sleep. My husband read how I was feeling and advised me to take the morning off as well. This was coinciding with my parents’ visit coming to a close, and maybe because I’m such an ice-cold cat my emotional tides tend to wash up as short-lived illness rather than, you know, just feeling something. So we decided to go see “Fast and Furious 6” in the theater and take the morning to rest. I sent Den a text to let him know I’d be out the following morning but planned to be at training in the afternoon.
About an hour later Den called me and started giving me the third degree about my illness. I tried to down-play it as much as possible because I really did plan to be at training the next afternoon and believed I’d feel much better after an 18 hour sleep. When Den asked if I had a fever I confirmed that I did not (two of the boys at the gym have just been very sick and he was perhaps worried I had the same thing) and upon hearing a negative to the question regarding the fever he then explained that a promoter called and wanted me to fight because he’d already advertised that a Farang (westerner) would be on the card and then had that fight fall through, so could I step in to make good on his ticket sales. I said, “sure, no problem.” Den asked me a hundred times if I was sure and I kept saying it was no problem at all, so it actually worked out well that I now had trained exactly as much as I should have for a fight on Saturday and had now two full days to recover from my flu or whatever before the fight.
I did not have a good couple of days. I slept 90% of the time between getting home from the theater and getting up to go to the fight two days later. I did eat a little bit and managed to get to a pharmacy to pick up some Advil and Imodium so that I could at least make it through the fight, but the muscle aches and chills were bad right up until leaving for the venue.
more on the psychology of these events in my On the Dangers of Feeling Special
But here’s the thing: I make a big deal about saying that fighting in Thailand is a job and a way of life and you show up when you’re expected and all this. I also try to emphasize how much I dislike the importance placed on individual events and performances in the US and many parts of the west as opposed to how it’s all part of a larger process in Thailand. And so fighting while sick is just another experience. Maybe I learn that it’s a terrible idea and I do what I can to avoid it in the future, but what I actually experienced in this fight was that the best I felt in about 5 days (I crashed hard after the fight) was during the time leading up to and during this fight. My body went into “let’s do this” mode and it felt fine until it had the option to rest again. Then it pretty much felt like I had the flu again.
A few fights before I was meant to go in the ring it became clear that they were still choosing an opponent for me. The program had listed the fight at 60 kilos (I’m 47 kilos) and one woman who was there looked to be about that weight. Another woman was brought in and I was made to stand next to her; she was closer to my size but when Den told me who she was I remembered that she’s still bigger than I am, at about 53 kilos. It was put to me by the coach of both these women to decide who I wanted to fight. I called Den over to get in on whatever was being negotiated and he opted for the one closer to my size. Apparently we’d fought before. When Den said her name I remembered, quite clearly, our first fight. Nong Ying had bashed me across the ring for two rounds before I landed a clean knee and KO’d her. She had also just now come from another fight – as in, she was in a fight – so this would be her second fight of the night. One kid with a flu and one kid who already fought; O! Thailand!
Den reminded me to keep my hands up because Nong Ying has very good boxing. I did keep my hands up in a kind of neutral way but at the very start of the fight I absent-mindedly tried to grab at her kick (I honestly wasn’t aware of it) and she took advantage of this stupid twitch and faked some low kicks to get me to drop my hand for the catch and then just nailed me with a right kick, connecting just behind my left ear. I went down.
I kind of tunnel-visioned out for a second as I slowly went to the mat. I couldn’t hear anything and my head was buzzing. I could see the ref counting and everything felt very slow-motion, but I did get up to my feet by the time he got near the 8 count and was ready to go. And my damn left hand stayed glued to my head after that. Her coach kept yelling “knock out! knock out!” from the side of the ring – no other instruction, just that – but it wasn’t to be. He had yelled the same thing at our first fight. By the second round she was throwing elbows. I totally thought to work mine in but didn’t even get close. Den wanted me to just knee her, which I don’t remember doing at all and don’t remember being in the clinch even once, even though that did happen. I was buzzed. But she went for a kick again and I blocked, our shins connecting hard. Incidentally it was exactly on the part of my shin that was still injured from my last two fights but the lion’s share of the nerve clash went into her shin – probably from her fight just before this one, but who knows? – and she kind of just crumpled down against the ropes and stopped. Then the ref counted her out.
It’s a strange way to end a fight, especially one that was so intense from my experience of it. Nong Ying is a very good fighter. She’s been fighting for at least 5 years already since she fought the other Sylvie back before she retired and was one of the few or perhaps the only one to knock Sylvie out; but even fighters with that experience aren’t necessarily as aggressive and skilled as Nong Ying is. She’s definitely an adversary for my development. Well, she’s a catalyst for my development because she’s an adversary for my weaknesses in the ring. She’s fast, strong and aggressive which means I have to take a lot to even give a little. I reckon we’ll fight again – I hope I’m able to bring more to her each time.
The Checked Kick