November 16, 2013 – at San Sai Loi Krathong Festival
This fight was set up over a month ago, almost right after my first fight with Cherry at the benefit for Khem. I’d won that fight by decision, blowing Cherry out, energy wise, in the fourth and fifth rounds. It was a milestone fight for me, definitely implementing a lot of things I’d not had in fights before and I was proud of my performance.
Directly after that fight her coach had gone on record to the national Muay Thai magazine Muay Siam, saying the only reason I’d won is that I’m “bigger than” Cherry, which is laughably untrue. It actually pissed me off. It became a kind of joke and my husband started calling me Yai Gwaa, the Thai for “bigger than.” So I really wanted to win this fight again and make a point of it.
Festival fights are my favorite and this is the first of the season for me. It was a chaotic night and I was warned well in advance when I went to the gym for my shadowboxing and massage and the trainers were just in utter disarray. All the boys were fighting at one location in San Sai and I was fighting, alone, at a completely different festival, but also in San Sai. But that meant we had to take two cars – Daeng drove all the boys in his truck and Den took Pom’s car, which only seats five. There were people who wanted to come to my fight, but there wasn’t room in the car and with festival fights there’s simply not a concrete address for people to use because it’s usually in a field near a temple or government building. On our way there we asked fellow motorists at red lights if they knew where the City Hall building was and nobody had a clue. Finally, we asked a young woman on a motorbike who had a full face of makeup and pageant hair – a good sign that she was on her way to ride a float at just such a festival – and she did direct us to the right road.
Walking from the car to the field where all the festivities are is the best. You can only move at a crawl because of so many people and there are neon lights everywhere. We were behind a float that had a beautiful young girl doing seated traditional dance moves, mostly with her arms, and that float was tailed by two ambulances, so we were just kind of creeping along. You see the float ahead, just covered in flowers and bright lights setting the whole thing aglow like an alien ship. And there’s the most melancholy sounding music ever to fuzz out a speaker blasting into the night air. And as the only westerners around, my husband and I get a lot of looks. Every other female I encounter who is part of the celebration is in traditional dress, full makeup and perfect hair, taking tiny steps as they are wrapped in gold and red sarongs.
walking into the festival fight entrance
The idea was for Nook to convince the promoter to let me fight second or third of the night so that we could finish up and hop over to where the boys were fighting. I assume that had mostly to do with gambling, rather than the more feel-good idea of wanting to support the team. When we first arrived the promoter wasn’t there and it seemed like we were a good hour away from the show starting. Pook and I found the restroom, located maybe a 5 minute walk away, and by the time we got back the fights had started. It was swift. But the promoter wouldn’t move my fight and I was scheduled 5th, so there was some waiting to be done.
With no boys to act as my corner it wasn’t clear who would be hopping in the ring to dump water on me and stretch my legs. Kevin couldn’t really do it because he films and also needs surgery on his eye, so his depth perception is pretty bad and getting in and out of the ropes over and over again would be difficult and disorienting. Both Den and I suggested Pook do it, but she was wearing shorts (which corners generally shouldn’t) and was very nervous about not knowing what to do. If she were prepared, she’d totally have done it. But so Nook was there, which was kinda cool because he’s never been in my corner before. But he’s 55 years old and maybe in a manner of not having prepared women for fights before and being polite did not lift my shirt to put oil on my stomach or back. So I just got a ton of oil and vaseline on my arms and legs, which is fine.
Nook applying the vaseline to my face
Den and Nook both disappeared into the crowd until the very moment I was to go to the ring. I was sitting on the mat, just trying to keep my heart-rate in check. I was very nervous for this fight and my husband kept reminding me to get my energy going out instead of closing in on myself, which I must have been struggling with because I just couldn’t get it going. I felt good, but I was simultaneously unfocused and too focused.
There was this drunk old man who kept saddling up to me, just happy as could be, telling me to win my fight. (No doubt because he wanted to place a bet.) I can smile and nod and reassure these situations pretty easily usually and I did for about an hour, but when I was warming up and he kept harassing me I was getting pretty annoyed. Perhaps another sign that I wasn’t in the right head space. Definitely something to work on.
drinking the essence of chicken
This fight was very frustrating. I wanted to move forward and eat up space, throw lots of knees because that’s what exhausted her in the last fight. But she had solved this problem since our last meeting and just locked my head in the clinch, making space for knees pretty difficult to grab. I was prepared for elbows and she just wasn’t throwing them. I landed a good right hand in maybe the second round that definitely affected her, but it was solitary and I never got my hands going. I just got tunnel-visioned and was trying to do this one thing, despite it not working in the fight itself. That’s on me. All Cherry had to do was solve that one thing, which she did, and I was ineffective. I did land more kicks than I have previously, but that’s pretty much reaching for things to be happy about because they didn’t matter much in the context of the fight. I lost every round.
I’m disappointed, for sure. It sucks to lose, especially when I really earned that loss in my own performance. I struggle with the same things in training, but generally I can overcome a lot of my flaws in fights just by powering through – when that’s solved by the skill and experience that Cherry showed, I just feel very frustrated. But that’s good for finding ways to work on my weaknesses. I do hope we fight again – it would be odd if we didn’t.
Unfortunately the battery failed and round 5 got deleted or just failed to store in the camera. But it was pretty much more of the same.
my post-fight video update a few minutes after
Nearly Whole Fight
battery ran out on the 5th round, it did not record, so only up to round 4