Friday, December 18, 2009
Lumpini Stadium - Bangkok
There is a mecca for Muay Thai kickboxing, and it's name is Lumpini. Located in the heart of Bangkok, only top fighters from well-respected camps have the opportunity to fight there. The fact that fights are held at the stadium three times a week speaks to the deep talent pool in the country.
Bryan and I caught a cab from Khao San Road, and pulled up twenty minutes later in front of the stadium. Immediately latching onto us was one of the stadium's hosts. He spoke perfect English, and showed us the various seating options. Ringside was 2000 Baht, a sum far exceeding what we should spend, as we were obviously being charged the "Farang" price. There was a collective "fuck it," and we found ourselves 20 feet from Thailand's finest combat athletes.
The scene was reminiscent of the Kumite tournament from Van Damme's "Bloodsport," with rabid fans waving large stacks of colorful Thai money, and frantically calling out their bets. Each landed blow would elicit an "ooo-way!" from the crowd, and each individual would loudly up or condemn their previous bets. Most of the betting took place in the back sections of the arena, and that looked like where most of the fun was going down. We promised ourselves to sit there the next time.
In the ring, a fighter from the blue corner stalked his opponent. He took a hard kick to the ribs, and laughed it off. His opponent waded back into the fray, only to eat a flash left hook-right hand combination to the jaw. The right hand dropped him to his knees, and he was stood up immediately by the ref. The blue fighter feinted with his head and shoulders before dipping and coming over the top with his elbow. It crashed flush onto his opponent's face, and the man was out cold before he hit the canvas. The ref called the fight, and the cornermen of the downed fighter looped his arms over their shoulders to carry him out of the ring.