I went to the Muay Thai championships last night. For those of you not in the know (which included me untill last night) Muay Thai is Thai kickboxing and there is a small but thriving community of Muay Thai fighters in the UK.
While I’m not a boxing fan and don’t normally like violence, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the night.
The bouts are short consisting of 3 x 2 minute rounds played out over a soundtrack of traditional Thai music. Most of the fighters embraced the traditional Thai aspects of Muay Thai and most entered the ring wearing head dresses and many performed the ritual four corners dance in the ring to banish evil spirits and focus them before the bout.
It was nice to see the fighters respecting the cultures and traditions of their sport instead of turning it into a load of macho bullshit. That’s not to say that a few western elements haven’t creped in. All the fighters entered the arena with an entourage to a blaring rock, hip hop or Ragga track, Eminem was the artist of choice followed by Wu Tang Clan and Ll cool J ‘Mama said knock you out’.
The highlights of the evening included the first of the 2 international championship matches ending halfway through the first round when local boy and crowd favorite Paolo Da Silva was knocked down with a swift knee to the head by Australian Aaron Leigh (this was a full Thai rules match so elbows and knees to the head were allowed - this did not stop the crowd booing the new champ and bellowing a chorus of "cheat, cheat, cheat"). During the second to last bout the ref got punched in the head but he didn't even flinch and carried on like nothing had happened).
However the real highlight came during the grand finale light middleweight world championship match when Brit Sak 'the slayer' Nayagam fell through the 2nd and 3rd ropes onto the judges table then rolled under the bottom rope back into the ring to carry on his world title match with Aussie Ben Burton. Pure class but
unfortunately not enough to get him the belt and he went home empty handed.