Last Wednesday we headed over to Ratchadamnoen Stadium to get our fill of the ol' ultraviolence. I'd missed out on watching Muay Thai kickboxing during my last trip out to Bangkok, but ended up getting my dose of mayhem from a couple of cockfights and an attack from bottle-opening vaginas.
We shelled out 800 baht (About $20. Ringside cost 1500 baht.) for what turned out to be nosebleed seats, although the view was still close enough to see nosebleeds. However, as you can see in the above photo, we ended up sitting inside a fenced area, where we were forced to fight each other in cage matches in exchange for beer.
A lot of the frenzied action took place in the stands anyway, where guys would start making bets between rounds. For some reason the betting action would heat up in the later rounds. Kind of takes the guesswork out of betting doesn't it? In fact the first round was always the quietest: you could hear a cricket chirp, then get deep-fried. The crowd energy really intensified after the second round, when the entire arena would explode with hundreds of loud men excitedly waving their arms and screaming out numbers like crazed commodity floor traders.
One of the most fascinating aspects of a Muay Thai bout is the pre-fight ritual, which is an elaborate dance performed while wearing sacred headgear and armbands. Through dance, the boxers honor their trainer, their gym, their birthplace, their favorite breakfast cereal, etc. By the time they finally get around to honoring their sock manufacturer, an hour has passed.
There are about a dozen matches every fight night, each consisting of five rounds. These boxers are tiny, and barely pubescent. The first weight class is 101 pounds (The heaviest was 132 pounds, or a very large collie.) This got us thinking that it'd be like watching two of our skinny petite female friends going at it. This then got us wondering which of our female friends would make good match-ups and who'd win in how many rounds. And who'd be the first to resort to dirty lesbian tactics.
Anyway, another thing I liked about watching the fight was the three-piece band playing traditional instruments. They not only provided a soundtrack for the bloodshed, but you could actually see the boxers dancing along to the old school Thai beats. Maybe the judges scored them on rhythm.
The first few fights were pretty interesting, but they sure did do a lot of kneeing. Granted, it's very painful; but 50% of the action consisted of them just embracing each other in a slow dance, lovingly kneeing each others kidneys. Every once in a while there'd be a takedown, an elbow or a kick - punches are considered to be the weakest weapons in the Muay Thai arsenal.
The crowd really seemed to dig the kneeing though, chanting "Knee!" every time it happened, which was every two seconds. But repeated kidney kneeing doesn't really make for exciting knockouts - there weren't any. All it did was make me think of pissing blood. And as the weight classes got higher, there'd be even more non-stop knee action.
After the eight millionth "Knee!" we left the stadium and went to CM2 to abuse internal organs in a more enjoyable way a la Grey Goose to the liver.