Muay Thai - Entertainment

Muay Thai - Entertainment

Follow up from the earlier post for Muay Thai Holiday, for those who missed that post about the various gyms and schools you can visit to learn Muay Thai on your holiday, this post is about the entertainment aspect of the holiday, so if you is looking at Muay Thai entertainment, here is a low down on the activities you can plan for when you are in Bangkok, Thailand. 

In Bangkok, there are two major Boxing stadiums you can visit if you want to catch some all out Muay Thai fight. The 1st  one is the Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium, 1st open to public back in December 1945 and located at Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, the stadium is one of the two major stadiums for modern Muay Thai. With it’s own ranking system and championship title up to Middleweight, the stadium draws a steady flow of fans every Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It was such an honour for me to be able to be behind the scene on one such fights when I was in Bangkok that the experience will forever stay with me.

Entering the venue via the fighter’s entrance, I felt like I’m a gladiator walking into the centre of the ring for a fight with fans cheering loudly for blood. The venue itself gave off a very gritty atmosphere where the fights felt more raw as the fighters goes all out in putting on a show to the crowd and attacks their opponents with an intention to kill. I gets the chills just thinking back at the few hours I spend in the stadium. If I were a fighter entering into the ring in that stadium, the energy from the gamblers shouting and cheering at the fighters definitely pumped up the amount of adrenaline that is already coursing through the system.

Rajadamnern Stadium Bangkok
Muay Thai fighters at Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok
The fighters I talked to after their fights confirms it, as they prepare for their fights, they first get nervous and when they stripped down and get into their gears, they get pumped up for the fight. And when they stepped into the ring and perform the Wai Khru, that’s when the adrenaline level in the body shoots through the roof and they basically goes on instinct and training in their fights. By the time they finish their fights, which usually last between a K.O. to either one of the fighter to the end of the 5th round. They would be so drained of energy that it takes some time before they could cool down enough to wash up and go home.

What interest me throughout the fight is the gambling that takes place at the 2nd level of the stadium where bettings are placed using hand signals, just like the way it is in the Stock exchange. Because occasional fights will break out among the gamblers, the foreigners are advised to occupy the more expensive ringside seats. Even though the stadium’s security is managed by the Military Police officers, there will be times when the fights get so out of hand that it’s hard for the MPs to do anything if a traveling fan is caught in the middle of it all. If you like such ‘Blood Sports’ kind of environment, this is the place to go for your Muay Thai entertainment.

Lumpinee Stadium Bangkok
Action at the Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok
The other major Muay Thai stadium is the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, located at Ram Intra Road since February 2014, the stadium moved to the present venue from their original location at Rama IV Road as they needed a bigger venue to accommodate the growing interest in the sports. With a capacity for 9,500, the new Lumpinee Boxing stadium is quite a testament to the Royal Thai Army’s aim to modernise the sports even more. I think the stadium is still very new so for tourists, it’s advisable to get a Muay Thai tour package so that transport will be arranged as the only constant public transport available at the moment is the taxi service and the planned train station will only be ready in the near future. Bus wise, I’m not too familiar with the bus service in the area so the best mode of transport I know of getting from your accommodation to Lumpinee Stadium is by taxi.

Fights at Lumpinee  Stadium is only Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so if you plan to visit the place to catch some of the fights, you can plan your trips around those days. Just like Rajadamnern Stadium, Lumpinee Stadium have their own ranking system as well with championship titles from mini flyweight (105 lb) up to the super welterweight (154 lb). I’m quite proud to say that during my stay in Bangkok, I got to train with Sam-A, one of the reigning Lumpinee title holder. At present, only 3 farangs (foreigners) have been awarded the most prestigious belts in Muay Thai, which is Lumpinee Champions. The 1st of which is French-Algerian fighter, Morad Sari, French fighter Damien Alamos and Ramon Dekkers. Unlike the Rajadamnern stadium though, walking into the Lumpinee stadium felt just like walking into any other normal sports stadium. The atmosphere, even though is as noisy and packed as the other stadium, felt a bit more tame and controlled. 

The various rooms (management office, medical, weight-in room and changing rooms) are properly segregated and spread across the rear of the stadium with plenty of modern facilities for the fighters to utilise. For fans attending the match, there’s a huge shop you can visit to buy boxing gears and ring side seats are nicely spread out. Check out the entrance below the VIP seating area as you can catch a glimpse of the next fighter coming out to fight.

Unlike Rajadamnern where the fighters stands on a platform before their fight, the fighters in Lumpinee gets a nice sitting area where they can relax and get into the zone before entering the ring. It’s quite a different environment and to compare both stadiums, the Lumpinee is much more structured and much more civilised in term of atmosphere while Rajadamnern is much more raw. 

Muay Thai Live Actors and Actresses
Muay Thai Live cast in Bangkok 
If watching Live competitions is not your cup of tea, head over to Asiatique and check out Muay Thai LIVE!, a daily stage performance by actual Muay Thai exponents. A 1 and half hour spectacle, you’d be in awe at the flexibility of the performers on stage as they leap and perform impossible moves that you never know is possible. Created and Directed by Ekachai Eukrongtham, there’s plenty of action as he brings the story of Muay Thai to live. It took the fighters 5 months to train and rehearse all the necessary scenes and all the hits and kicks that they execute are real. Only way these guys is still alive and kicking is because they rehearsed the moves so well that they could pull off those banned moves with ease. Yes, you read it right, a lot of the moves in the show is classic Muay Thai moves, but because the moves are so deadly that the Promoters and Governing Bodies for Muay Thai competitions have banned them from competitions.

When you catch the performance, don’t think the fighters actually choreograph their moves to the sound effects that they seem to hit on cue. Truth be told, a lot of the sound effects, stage effects are all keyed in as it goes. So the magic not only appears on stage, but there’s a man or a team sitting high up on a stage with a huge control panels working the magic in making sure all the sound and stage effects appear and happen as the performers hit their mark.

Got the chance to speak to the performers and the director after the show and found out that these guys and ladies are so well trained that they can switch roles easily when it is their turn to take the leading roles. One of the biggest star at the show is none other than Asanee Suwan, the very actor who portrayed the Kathoey fighter, Nong Thoom, in the Beautiful Boxer. Of course fans of his would know that he has also acted in a lot of other movies but in term of popularity wise, Beautiful Boxer is it. Like all fighters, he’s pretty shy but when I got him to talk about how trained to get the shape he is in for this role, his eyes just light up. 

Muay Thai Live Actresses
The writer, Mike Yip with the Muay Thai Live acteresses
The main similarity all the actors in this show has in maintaining their body for the Muay Thai LIVE! is to eat clean, train well and stay away from Alcohol and cigarettes. For great abs, be consistent in doing 500 ab crunches and you will get the 6 or 8 packs you want. As for the future plans for Muay Thai LIVE!, Ekachai mentioned that he has some plans for Christmas so if you’re visiting Bangkok, do check out Muay Thai LIVE! Definitely a performance you should not miss.

If you plan to visit Thailand for Muay Thai Holiday minus the training, be sure to check out the above activities.

And now, for the contest part to win some goodies that I brought back from Thailand. All you need is answer some simple questions and 5 lucky people with the correct answers will walk away with a pair of exclusive Muay Thai shorts.

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Contest starts 11th Nov till 17th Nov 2014. For the contest giveaway, participants should follow the instructions and email the answers as instructed in the widget. Those who are into Muay Thai, this article was written by Mike Yip, who enjoys this sport and attended the first ever Muay Thai blogger Tour in Bangkok, Thailand. He spent five days there exploring the sport and also the entertainment side of Muay Thai.

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