Bullitt's Bros

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lumphini Stadium

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I've been doing a lot, and when I have free time, I've usually been too exhausted to spend it blogging. So today I want to tell you about something that at least two of my readers want to know about: watching a Muay Thai kickboxing event.

I--just I, the wife was getting a girly spa treatment--got to Lumphini (pronounced Loom-PEENI)stadium on Saturday night at about 7 pm. At the moment I reached Lumphini's threshold--and we're talking about a wide threshold--I was tackled by a ticket saleswoman offering to sell me seating. There were three kinds of seat to purchase--1,000 Baht ($30) for far away seating, 1,500 Baht ($45) for nearby seating, and 2,000 Baht ($60, obviously) for ringside seating. I opted for ringside seating, because it's my honeymoon, and the honeymoon gods demand blood.

Unfortunately, I couldn't go into Lumphini until 8:15, because there was another set of fights going on at the time; so I was going to see the second set of fights.

So I had to wait. Luckily, there was a little bit for me to do while waiting: namely, eat, drink, and observe. So, I decided to buy a beer--a Chang (=elephant) beer--for 40 Baht ($1.21) and look around.

The first thing to note was that there were two kinds of ticket salespeople: yellow-shirted people who appeared to work for Don King promotions, and red-shirted people who worked for God knows who. Unfortunately, I had bought a ticket from a yellow-shirted tentacle of the Don King octopus.

Second, I looked at the list of fights for that night. There were ten fights, and next to each number was listed both the fighters' ridiculously unpronounceable names, as well as their similarly elongated training camps' names. What was most curious, though, was the weights for these fighters. For the first three fights, each of the competitors' weights was 100 lbs. I know fighters can be pretty small, but I didn't know they could be that small. Finally, the main eventers' weights were 128 and 130 lbs. They were the heaviest ones. So, lots of speedy fighters on the bill.

Third, as I waited, I saw two of the fighters--both Westerners--waltz out of the stadium. "That's a bit off", I thought. "Why don't they use some special entrance?" (How did I know they were fighters? Because they were wearing shorts, black shirts with Thai lettering on it, had hot girlfriends, and, oh yeah, their faces were red and puffy from being punched and kicked a lot.)

Fourth, Chang beer was not very good. It's time to buy a Singh. 50 Baht ($1,51). (While I was buying a Singh, an Australian sidled up next to me and asked for a Singh as well. "50 baht!" he was told. "No! 30!" he loudly purred (only Australians can pull that off). "50!" she repeated. "OK." "Does that bargaining technique ever work?" I asked. "Not really," he Australiaed.

I was finally let in at 8:10. As is to be expected, people who buy their tickets from King volunteers get a raw deal; we're let in second, whereas the people who bought from the redshirts are let in first.

What I didn't expect was how small Lumphini is; probably only a few thousand could fit in there. Also, ringside didn't make much difference. The 1,500 Baht seats were pretty close as well. What about the 1,000 Baht seats? Ah, these, I think, were just for Thais. Think: The Deerhunter. That is, a bunch of old, screaming Asian man yelling at a bookie. Also, Christopher Walken's dead body was there. I don't think I would have been comfortable for 1,000 Baht.

I took my seat at ringside and waited around a bit. Nothing doing, really, so I decided I wanted to pee. I went to the restroom, and whom did I pass on the way there? All of tonight's fighters! They were right back there stretching, jumping around, and doing Thai stuff. If they let schlubs like me next to the fighters, I guess it makes sense that they don't have a separate exit.

I waited around a bit, and then the action started (at about 8:40). The first two competitors came to the ring, and I instantly realized why they were listed as being 100 pounds: because they're 12 years old. Imagine that: 12-year olds fighting in front of a room full of cheering strangers. This is a great country.

Now, one thing about Muay Thai is that there is kooky music and dancing before each match; with these kids there was no difference, except that they were really phoning in the dancing.

Anyway, off to the fights. While I thoroughly applaud putting 12-year olds in death matches, I give a thumbs down to the skill level displayed. They were not very strong, kinda slow, and boring. At least the matches were only one 6 1-minute rounds.

Next bout. A couple more kids fighting. This time they were fourteen. Ho hum. More boring...holy crud, these kids are kind of good. Wait, this is actually exciting! Hey, these kids are evenly matched, and they're kneeing each other and taking each other down! And every time, the kid in blue knees the kid in red, his corner-people--there are about twenty of them--scream, "knee!!"--and every time the red kid knees the blue kid, the people in his corner scream out some gibberish in Thai! What a glorious sport.

OK, on to the third bout. More kids. But now I'm interested. They fight for a couple rounds, and it's like the first match. Round 1, a bit slow, but round 2 was fast and exciting. Round 3 was...HOLY SHIT! A 14-YEAR OLD JUST KNOCKED ANOTHER 14-YEAR OLD OUT WITH AN ELBOW TO THE FACE! AND I WATCHED IT!! THERE IS A GOD!!

The next match was between older gentlemen, but I had seen my fill. It was late at night, and time to go home. Thailand was beginning to prove its point. There's more to it than just smiling scam artists and great food. There's also schoolyard fights between the baddest kids you know broadcast in vibrant technicolor.


Oh yeah: F**k Rashad Evans.


  • The 2008 award for "Blog Post Getting the Biggest Laugh from Yates" goes to:
    This one.

    By Blogger Mikey Y, at 12:15 PM  

  • So are you enjoying yourself? Be careful of your money. these Tais seem to ask a lot. A good thing to do is to get more than one offer. But what do I know. Is Shawn having a good time? Keep the blogs coming when you have time. Happy New Year and much success in 2009. Love from the three of us. Mom.

    By Anonymous mom, at 1:39 PM  

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