August 12, 2014 It’s a Tuesday night in mid-August, and Bangkok’s Royal Fields are packed with Muay Thai fans for the Queen’s Cup, arguably the biggest day of the year for female Muay Thai. The fights are split between two rings: Muay Ying Association features an all-Thai, all-female card, while OneSongchai at the opposite end of the royal compound has coupled with a Chinese promotion for international match-ups. Illuminated by large spotlights and backed by a huge broadcast screen, the first ring I come across looks pretty high-budget.
Two Thai announcers, a dapper man and a sophisticated woman in rich people’s clothes, take the stage and introduce the first set of fighters. The “Muay Ying Association” logo on the big screen dissolves into enormous portrait shots of each fighter as she enters for her walkout, all soundtracked by a bass-heavy mix on loop that could stand to be turned down. Just before the first fight stars, I’m joined by my friend Sandy, a fellow Californian who has recently taken up Muay Thai.
“I’m doing it for fitness,” she told me shortly after she stared training, “but I’ve been pretty unhappy with life lately so I kind of want to fight, mainly so I can try to beat someone up legally.” The Muay Ying Association fights commence, and I am loving every minute of it. This gathering of female Thai fighters is fantastic, and something I so rarely get to enjoy. Each fighter is given a proper walkout while the announcer reads her biography and stats in Thai.
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