Photos by Matthew Yarbrough
[Aun, known in the ring as Kongsuriya Narupai and on his birth certificate as Buncha Taparsa, began studying Muay Thai at age 10 in his home province of Ranong. He has racked up an estimated 100 fights in his career. Aun is now 27.]
After I retired from fighting, I joined the military. That’s how it goes for men in Thailand; when you turn 21, it’s like a lottery and they pick you or they don’t pick you. Only some are eligible, like if you have glasses or are disabled in some way, you can’t be a soldier. The ones who are eligible are made to choose a color, red or black, and if you pick red, you have to do two years in the military. I picked red.
They sent me to southern Thailand where they have problems all the time. My duty was to talk to people in the village, try to help them understand why the military came to their province, to protect them and not to hurt them. Southern Thailand still has problems. They try to have their own country and their own culture, lots of Muslims there.
I heard gunshots everyday but was never involved. I was involved in bombings, though. Cooking gas explosions happened three times. I was near them but I was safe every time. People were killed, yes, but thankfully no one in my department or my friends.
After my military service, I went back to Muay Thai. Worked as at trainer for a few months in Hong Kong, then went over to FA Group in Bangkok, to Wat Charoenrit in Koh Phangan. FA Group used me as a training partner for some of their other fighters, but I wasn’t a full-fledged trainer, so that’s part of why I took the ….View full article