I'm not going to lie... fights aren't really my thing. Aside from watching Hulk Hogan with my dad, my undying love for the Rocky movies, and my fantasy of being a super ninja... I'm not really into it.
So, when the idea of going to a fight came up, I said I would go because it would be a cool experience... but I had no idea just how cool it would be.
After venturing across the massive city of Bangkok, we finally found the stadium in Benjakiti Park where these live, televised fights were being held. Because they were free (yes, free!) we expected the place to be packed with tourists... but it wasn't. Aside from the Dutch backpackers snuggled up to our legs in the jam-packed rafters, there were very few foreigners.
They crammed the place as full as they could, which meant you got really close to your neighbour, but you were right in the thick of it. We sat on some old, rickety rafters and people all around us were yelling out their bets... we had to pass money back and forth to people every round for said bets... we were amidst the chaos of illegal gambling and a serious enthusiasm for the sport. It was anything but boring...
The beginning of each fight started with what appeared to be some sort of ritual. The fighters would stretch, pray and bow in certain directions, then they would kneel down and sweep the ring with their arms in a rhythmic fashion... it was actually quite graceful. They would do this as the arena "band" kept a steady beat and performed a chant-like melody that continued and intensified as punches were thrown and kicks were landed.
Here are some videos we took that help capture the intensity of it all (the last one is especially exciting)...
To see the rest of the videos we took, click here.
For anyone planning to attend these fights... wear neutral coloured clothing. I was wearing a maroon tank top and they wouldn't let me in unless I purchased a black tee shirt from a vendor outside. No one could explain to me why I had to buy a shirt, but we believe the reason to be one of the following... certain colours are considered offensive, my shoulders were bare, they were still mourning the kings death, or that it's just another tourist ripoff.
Oh well, I am now the proud owner of a black, knock off ACDC polo shirt...