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Thai Boxing in Samui 1990-93

Text by Jens from Kohsamui.org

I was really fascinated by martial arts as a young teenager. Sports and arts like Ju-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do and Wushu (Kung Fu) etc. was in my mind as often as girls, but it was not until 1990, I first went to train at a Muay Thai camp. It was located next to the Flamingo Lamai Stadium, (nowadays a rather intense bar area).

Many "long-stayers" from Germany, Australia, Sweden, Italy, England and other countries trained here and the bravest ones also fought local Samui and Surat Thani boxers at the weekends. The westerners where lucky, it was not often they met any real top class Muay Thai fighters, but the fights were top class entertaining. No doubt about that. The audience refreshed themselves with Singha or Thai "whiskeys" like Mekong or Sang Thip, mixed with cola and soda, and sorry for sounding old, there were more "hustle and bustle" going on these days.

The Thai traditional music that is played at the fights, was often drowned by the audience's cheers for either the farang (Thai language for western foreigner) or for the local boxer. A friend once fought a young man from Surat Thani, and the Thai totally dominated the fight. The audiences had a feeling that a knock out was probably coming, but then my friend suddenly got some very unexpected energy and his low kick to the opponent's leg, ended the fight! The crowd got very quiet. Once a farang had won "too many" fights, he often had to meet a skilled Samui, Surat or even Bangkok fighter, and for a few it might have been bad (or good) for their growing ego. But there are also many internationally good farang Muay Thai fighters these days. You can today occasionally find some of the best ones, training on Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket and of course Bangkok. A few of the best heavyweight (mostly) boxers are nowadays also fighting in the popular K-1 tournaments.

In 1991 I had the privilege to be able to practice on a Muay Thai Camp in Bangkok. I was the only farang there, but fortunately the language barrier were not really a problem. There were two training sessions per day, each of them lasting about 2-3 hours. First jogging 5 kilometers on the sidewalks of Bangkok in a moderate tempo, then Muay Thai training with a partner holding pads, that you kicked, punched, elbowed and kneed. And finally a few hundred push ups and sit ups. When the camp's promoter, Khun Art, tried to inspire me to practice hard for possible coming fights at Ratchadamnoen Stadium, Bangkok, I honestly decided to back out. This was a little more than I expected at first. I do not have enough of the necessary "eye of a tiger" for this I guess. The Flamingo Lamai Stadium was replaced with another Lamai Stadium, in 1993. It was located across the street of the former Lamai Gym. This stadium, unfortunately, lasted for only a few months before it was demolished. The only boxing arena on the island was now the Chaweng Stadium, close to Reggae Pub. It took years before Lamai got a new stadium, but then a "lady boxing ring" was built too, surrounded by many so called beer or girlie bars.

I can recommend everyone to try Muay Thai, while visiting Samui island or Thailand. It is one of the most all-round exercise there is, good for strength, balance, flexibility, coordination, your shape and fitness and also for self defense. Even if you decide not to fight in a ring, it is definitely a great sport with a very interesting background and history.
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