Muay Thai boxing has for some reason always been held up as a flag bearer in the West for sportsmanship and the true spirit of the fight game. My experience of it is far from that. The first time I came across it, was in Pattaya and it was one of those street bars that has a ring. Fighters come in and take part in exhibition bouts, before inviting drunken holidaymakers to “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”. Watching some fat drunken Brit with misspelt tattoos and a bad sunburn, wobbling around the ring before being dumped on his arse, is not, in my opinion, sport. It was like some sick form of bear baiting. Testosterone fuelled Brits, Aussies, Yanks and Canadians thinking they are hard, are no match for a Thai guy at this, or indeed any other kind of fighting. Beer in, brains out.
I then saw it in Phuket and it was a similar theme, though at least here they had proper bouts which seemed to salvage a morsel of sporting prowess, though not much. Knowing the Thais as I do, it doesn’t surprise me that some of them take losing very badly indeed. How, being laid out flat on your back, quite reconciles with their obsession at not losing “face” is beyond me. So recently when a fighter fell out of the ring and people laughed, it was never going to end well. Quite what happened next was, though, something of a surprise for the gathered crowd of enthusiasts.
Then there is the rather pathetic spectacle of drunken blindfold Muay Thai, I kid you not. What this has to do with sport is beyond me. It makes American wrestlers look like athletes. It just frankly embarrassing and the genuine protagonists of the ancient Thai sport must be mortified to see it.
The sport is a mess and the more that drunken spectators pay to indulge themselves, the more the Thais will continue to denigrate, what used to be a genuine sport. Young kids coming into the game now, must look at some of these videos and wonder just what the hell they are getting into.
I’ve never been a fight fan, and as cage fighting and this nonsense grows in popularity I can’t help but think, that surely they could just sit round a table and sort it out, over a few beers, without the bloodshed.