I have been travelling in Phuket, South of Thailand, for the past few weeks. Driving my scooter all around the island to meetings with operators I often saw big vans promoting Muay Thai matches in Patong – the most touristic place on the island.
They were packed with people (probably students of the boxing school) advertising the show, with the music blasting out of the loud speakers.
Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing is very famous in Phuket. There are many different boxing schools on the island and a lot of foreigners have been coming to Phuket to master this martial art. And finally if you want to see a Thai boxing fight for real, you can watch a game almost every night in Phuket’s boxing stadiums. I decided to check it out on a Monday night and drove my scooter to the famous ‘Patong Boxing Stadium’.
Having just gotten there with enough time to grab a beer and find my way to my seat, I started to feel a particular ambiance. The people who came to watch the fights were an interesting mix of tourists, expats, locals, families & groups of friends of the fighters. The speaker started to warm up the audience and the crowd responded with enthusiasm A total of 7 fights were programmed, with boxers coming from different schools in Phuket and around, including some International fighters (USA, Australia, France).
Before the show started, the audience was asked to stand up and listen the Thailand National Hymn showing respect to the King (as is almost always the case with any kind of semi-public gatherings).
Then the show began.
The matches were accompanied by Muay Thai Music (sounds like clarinet with drums and cymbals) which seemed to heighten everyone’s excitement After entering the ring, each fighter started to circle around and praying – symbolizing I guess their spirit and respect to this sport.
And then the fight…
Fighters were using their firsts, elbows, shins, legs, knees… making the matches very impressive.
With their attitude to stand a bit on their toe while fighting, I found a likeness between them and cock fights. The audience was cheering and clearly having a good evening of fun. The show lasted for around 3 hours, starting with the youngsters to finally end with the veterans.
I felt a lot of passion and purity during those matches and I have to say that all the folklore around Muay Thai made this sport very beautiful to me.