Earning a place on Thai Fight came after a number of decent performances at national and international level as well as the efforts of both Oron and Lynne, not to mention the trainers, to secure good fights for both me and for the gym. Finally, the progression everyone had been anticipating.
Thai Fight was my chance to make a statement about what I am here for. Two years of fighting my way up through the ranks, penniless and dodging injury, culminated in the achievement of my career to date. The protests continued as we arrived in Bangkok, but this time my mind was set on less futile endeavours. I had prepared well and was confident in that preparation. Knowing that he knocked his previous opponent cold, I was nervous of facing Pravit Piriyapinyo, but determination overrode any compromise. Pravit is a well known Kard Chuek Champion, especially in Burma (Myanmar).
I was not daunted at the weigh-in, even with its fame-laden cast. I had earned my place amongst them and I was proud. Having watched these fighters throughout my career with something bordering on relish, it was surreal and invigorating to be amongst them.
Contrary to their reputations, both Antoine Pinto and his father were friendly and introduced themselves to me unprompted. Younger brother Leo appeared shy and reserved, a boy compared even to me. Yodsanklai upheld the dull countenance of the career fighter, machine-like and unperturbed. Saiyok on the other hand had a high-pitched voice and disarming laugh, and mostly shied from attention.
Sudsakorn filled the role of joker, perpetually turning up late (if at all) and clowning around wearing garish designer clothing. Even he wasn’t immune to a lapse into visible awkwardness though. During the entrance rehearsal, his music and video being especially ostentatious, his face betrayed an absent-minded embarrassment made all the more conspicuous by his outfit. Payakdam and Iquezang were sturdy and boisterous; these and the others being the quarterbacks, the jocks, the showmen of Thai boxing. Iquezang’s fight was scheduled for after the Kard Chuek final between Saiyok and Sudsakorn, rendering his elaborate entrance flaccid and superfluous by lack of observers.
By sheer good fortune, friend and old-times trainer Ally Wallace happened to be cutting about Khao San and Rambuttri on holiday, thus the extra corner-man’s jacket was filled. A year since our last meeting, nothing more than a surreptitious nod of acknowledgement moments before the fight began was required.
After the fight it was as though a great weight had shifted; breathless in the palmy Bangkok evening everyone’s relief was tangible. Catharsis through violence. The twenty thousand baht stoppage bonus was the cherry on an already considerable cake; it meant I was able to give freely for the second Christmas in a row, not to mention take Shela to an island retreat from our island retreat. What is money?
I’ve been busting chops for the past few months and with a little focus this momentum will continue, for your entertainment purposes. I face the coming year mainly with excitement, but more than a little trepidation. These sacrifices leave much at stake, but the rewards both financial and personal are too great to resist.
By Craig Dickson