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Girls night out - Fight night in Bangkok

  • Muay Thai boxers - <p><span st<x>yle=Two Muay Thai boxers start the match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="Muay Thai boxers -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Two Muay Thai boxers start the match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Two Muay Thai boxers start the match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • Boxer - <p><span st<x>yle=A young Muay Thai boxer prepares before his match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="Boxer -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">A young Muay Thai boxer prepares before his match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">A young Muay Thai boxer prepares before his match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • Fans - <p><span st<x>yle=Fans watch the boxing match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="Fans -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Fans watch the boxing match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Fans watch the boxing match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • Warning sign - <p><span st<x>yle="Women ARE not allowed on stage" - Lumpini Boxing Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="Warning sign -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">"Women ARE not allowed on stage" - Lumpini Boxing Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">"Women ARE not allowed on stage" - Lumpini Boxing Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • Getting instructions - <p><span st<x>yle=A boxer receives instructions from his coach during a Muay Thai match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="Getting instructions -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">A boxer receives instructions from his coach during a Muay Thai match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">A boxer receives instructions from his coach during a Muay Thai match at Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • The match - <p><span st<x>yle=Boxers go for glory at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="The match -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Boxers go for glory at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Boxers go for glory at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
  • In flight - <p><span st<x>yle=Muay Thai boxers in the midst of a match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" title="In flight -

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Muay Thai boxers in the midst of a match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    (Photo by Waheeda Harris)" rel="

    yle="font-size: x-small;">Muay Thai boxers in the midst of a match at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

    yle="font-size: x-small;">photo credit: Waheeda Harris

    " width="890">
by Waheeda Harris
From Culture Experiences
March 28, 2011

Bangkok is a bustling metropolis - well known for salacious Khao San Road, fiery cuisine and ornate Buddhist temples. But as I was told, if you want to experience the city like a local - get a ticket for Muay Thai, the sport of Thai boxing.

With three fellow women, we headed to the Lumpini Boxing Stadium, excited to see our first Muay Thai match. The entrance of the stadium was crowded, with people hanging around in groups, waiting for the action inside to begin. Since we were early arrivals, we settled into seats to check out the crowd.

Emerging from the steamy street, the stadium was a cool retreat. Most of the seats were still vacant, but at each corner of the boxing ring, a triangular area divided by metal bars was for those fans who didn't want to pay for a seat.

Most of the fans were locals, sedately leaning against the walls, drinking and chatting. It was a laid-back atmosphere, with a few fellow travellers waiting for the action to start.

As if we were VIPs, we sat in the front row, drinking beer and trying to figure out what was happening as the matches began. Fellow Thai fans stared at us, probably curious about these four women who appeared as fish out of water in the stands.

The first two boxers entered into the ring - dressed in the padded headgear, large gloves that seemed too big for these young slight boys and bright coloured satin boxing shorts with bold Thai letters. No sedate navy or dark brown, these boxers went for neon shades of red, pink, blue and orange.

Prior to the fight, the boxers went through their rituals - stretches and shaking their limbs to keep their muscles warm, praying at each corner and then hugging one another, honouring each other as a fellow combatant.

And then the fight began, and the crowd started yelling, cheering on their favourite boxer. At one corner, a woman was passionately gesturing and yelling, her excited state seemingly a conflict with her petite size.

As the fighters danced around the ring, delivering jabs and kicks, the woman yelled louder, standing at the front of the group, who focused more on her than the boxers in the ring. As each round came to a quick end, the woman would gesture and talk loudly to her fellow Thai fans. I wondered if she was criticizing the boxers or the referee, but with the sound of the bell, she refocused her attention back on the ring.

As the first match ended and the winner proclaimed, the female fan ran over to the winner of the match, hugging and praising him. And then I realized - its his Mother! She had her fist raised in the air, a proud parent showing her joy for her son's triumph.

As the matches kept happening, the stadium was filled with fans, with more people lining the back walls, placing bets on the upcoming boxers. The coola atmosphere became steamy with the crowd.There were a few more travellers, and plenty of locals, all getting into the spirit of each boxing match by yelling encouraging and disparaging comments, many screamed in unison. Despite my lack of knowledge of the local language, we could tell who was happy and who was upset as the matches concluded.

My group was swept into the crowd's fervor, reacting to the flurry of punches and kicks, picking a favourite of the two combatants for each match, based only on the first impression as the boxers entered the ring.

I began to figure out the good hits and when the boxer was gaining points. The referee kept things moving along and during one match, decided the boxers were wrongly paired, and ended the fight, instead of letting the lesser boxer become the better boxer's punching bag.

After a few hours, we called it a night at the stadium - hoping to meet up with fellow friends for some late night eats and perhaps another distraction.

For those hours in the stadium, we began to understand the skill and technique of Muay Thai boxing - as much as the pride and excitement for the locals for their favourite sport.

 

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Waheeda Harris icon

Waheeda Harris

I'm a Toronto-based freelance journalist, writing about travel, design, cuisine and people who are passionate about what they create. I’ve written for newspaper, magazine, websites and blogs since 2000, love taking photos and happy to share what I've found wandering our planet.



Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: Pacific rim, Middle East, Caribbean, islands, pop culture, art, architecture, cuisine, photography
Website: http://about.me/waheedaharris

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