Thai kickboxing tournament

While I have heard of Muay Thai kickboxing, and have even tried my hand at it for exercise at one point, there is something a little surreal about seeing the real thing in the place that it originated – Thailand. This is the national sport of Thailand and there are matches every evening in one of two stadiums in Bangkok.

The intensity of the fight is heightened by a small group of men rhythmically banging drums that sound like the musical backdrop to a sit-com. The boxers in the ring move their feet to the rhythm. The precision of the fighter’s kicks and jabs are jaw-dropping. The intensity in the room is profound.

Pre-fight prayer

Fights starts in a ceremonial fashion with the fighters circling each corner of the ring offering prayer. They are oiled down and the bell rings. The intensity of the fights and the crowd escalates during each of the five rounds. I cannot get over the focus and strength of these men. Actually, most of them are very young men. It takes many fights for little or no money to work their way up to this ring.

Final round knockout

Unfortunately, there can only be one winner. The boxer in one fight was bruised and bloodied by the fifth round and he was knocked out with a single punch just before the final bell. My ringside seat allowed me to get some eerie photos of the fighter who lay motionless on the stretcher with his gloves hovering by his side.

Anietra Hamper & David Peters with the champ

This is where Muay Thai originated and it is a thrill to see the sport performed to perfection. This is from which everything else is duplicated. It is stunning, powerful, intense and so incredible to see in person.

For your own ringside experience, check out my YouTube video: Anietra Hamper Ringside – Muay Thai Kickboxing – Bangkok, Thailand