One Friday night last month I was Hua Hin
with nothing to do so I decided to go and watch the "Friday Night Muay Thai
contest" held at Grand Sport Hua Hin on Petchkasem Road.
I had received a flyer earlier in the street promoting the event and decided that it might be worth checking out. Apparently there are two Muay Thai venues in Hua Hin and this wasn't the "real" one, but if I wanted to go that night I didn't have much of a choice
. It wasn't a stadium
as such, more like a gym
that had a ring in the middle and some chairs set up on two sides. I believe they have Muay Thai lessons
there every day. There wasn't a live band
there either so the music didn't get faster as the matches progressed, we had to make do with a taped loop.
The admission price was 500 baht
, a little expensive I was informed by a local bar owner, but I wasn't complaining. Also any tuk tuk
in Hua Hin will take you to the venue for free, just show them the flyer. That amazed me.
The first fight started at 9pm, if I remember correctly it was a couple of 12 year old or so boys. Interesting enough and I was amazed by their already ripped physiques, especially their stomache muscles. There were a number of other fights including a 16 year old girl versus a 19 year old girl that was stopped after the second round because the older girl sustained an injury. After a while a section on one side of the ring that didn't have any seats set up by it started to fill up with Thai patrons. A number of them had brought blankets and were sitting there watching the matches. I remember wondering at the time if they too had paid 500 baht to get in. Somehow I doubted it.
Anyway, to get to the point of my writeup, one of the main events that was being touted all night by the announcer was a match between a nine year old boy and a nine year old girl. This long awaited match finally got underway at 11pm. As they were entering the ring it was announced that the boy was so confident that he would win that he had bet 7000 baht on himself. This was announced several times over the loudspeaker. I pondered where a nine year old boy would get 7000 baht as I sat there looking up at the "No Gambling" sign posted to the wall (in English only) above the bar.
The fighters came out to much excitement by the crowd, including myself and they were gorgeous, especially the little girl.
I may be mistaken but I believe the ceremonial dance that the boxers do before the match is called the Wai Klu. In each of the matches that night one of the boxers did the dance while the other stayed in his or her corner. For this match the girl was the one to perform the dance. Only this time she did something that I had not seen any of the other boxers do during their ceremonial dances. I'll do my best here to decribe it but I doubt that I can do it justice.
Starting in her corner she would face her opponent who was standing in his corner on the other side of the ring. She would take one or two steps forward while twisting her body back towards her corner, then she would stomp her foot towards her opponent at the same time as sending an imaginary punch his way, which he would deflect with his hands, much to the delight of the crowd. This continued until she reached his corner, with him knocking away her imaginary punches each time. Then she would head back towards her ring, two or three slow steps at a time, looking back over her shoulder with each step, give him an appraising look, shake her head and take some more steps. Finally she looked satisfied that he was weakened enough and she concluded her dance. I don't think I can sufficiently explain how exciting this was.
Finally the match gets underway, and just like a mouse's heart beats a hundred times faster than the much larger dog, their movements seemed to be a lot faster than the previous boxers' movements. I was as excited if not more so than the rest of the crowd. Her arms were longer than his so she was getting in a few more punches than he was. Whenever she hit him I'd let out a roaring cheer, however when he kicked her I would cringe and have to stifle a cry of , "Hey she's a girl! leave her alone!!" I think I might have been a little too into it.
The rounds were only two minutes each as opposed to the 3 minute rounds of the older fighters, but by the 4th round the girl's face was showing clear signs that she was getting tired. My heart broke.
After a while though I started to have terrible misgivings about the whole adventure. Thoughts like "What are you watching??!!" and "You are paying people who make two little kids fight" ran through my mind. I was feeling very conflicted by the whole situation. I was able to put those thoughts to the back of my mind though when they announced that the winner was the girl. The whole place errupted and I am not afraid to say that I almost had a tear in my eye. I was so happy for her. But then I started to feel a little sorry for the boy, who not only had to live with being beaten by a girl, but he had lost 7000 baht (If that story was to be believed).
After the fight both of the kids went around the audience and posed for photos and accepted money from the crowd. I gave her 100 baht and him 20. Now all he needed was another 6980 baht.
When I posed for my photo with her I put my arm around her shoulder and I could feel her arm on the other side. It was rock solid.
There was one more match after that, apparently a champion of the south versus a champion of the north, but I soon lost interest and went back to the hotel after the kids had gone.
In the songthaew on the way back I started to think about the whole night and had a number of questions.
I wonder if they were really fighting or if they were like a brother and sister and have that same fight for the tourists every week?
I wonder if they go to school like other kids. I would imagine it takes a lot of training to get to that kind of level, plus the announcer had mentioned that typical Muay Thai boxers train for 12 hours a day.
I wonder if they get to keep the money that they are given by the tourists or if unscrupulous event organizers pocket it. Or do their parents collect it?