….as Muay Thai commentator, pt 2

Posted on: January 30th, 2013 by Philip

As I advised in my previous article, Rob and I understand that some of our audience will not have knowledge or understanding of Muay Thai so we try to explain the action to them. That said there is no point in saying’kick, punch, block, kick’-it’s not radio. What we can try to do is point out which techniques a boxer might use to gain an advantage bearing in mind his/her strengths and also his/her opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. The timing in the fight is also very important; what the fighter needs to do to press home or regain an advantage; we use our experience to advise how we think the judges are viewing the action and thus what the boxers need to do to impress them and gain the points needed to win the fight. The nature of Muay Thai means that there are always ways to counter the opponent’s strengths/attacks, we try and explain some of these……
As we both have experience of fighting in the ring Rob and I understand that saying what needs to be done is a lot easier than actually being able to do it when cms and split seconds away from the highly tuned skills of a fighting machine. Commentating though is not without its perils; I have learnt to sympathise with commentators such as David Coleman and Murray Walker who have become famous for, in the heat of the moment getting a fact badly wrong, or coming out with lines that in the cold light of day are absolute nonsense. For us, dealing with names can be quite an issue; I recall one very tricky show when a group of Thais, most of whom were not so well known took on a team of Russians;that really had us wondering about ordering new sets of teeth!!Occassionally the boxers’ histories we have been provided with is obviously out of synch with who is in the ring above us leading us to exchange querying glances and double checking our information but we have always been able to get round such small hitches.
I view my commentating work as a pleasure and a privilege;having the best seat in the house and being paid for that honour!We have witnessed some great bouts and some magical moments. I think the standout for myself was Buakhaow’s appearance at the THAIFIGHT Extreme show in Pattaya in April 2012. In the lead-up to the show Buakhaow’s dispute with his former management Por Pramuk had surfaced and the word was that Por Pramuk had taken out a writ to prevent the Surin native from fighting.The lead upto the show was dominated by the question would he or wouldn’t he appear?on the day, rumour and counter rumour of sightings and otherwise whizzed round. The THAIFIGHT organisers are excellent at using this kind of drama though…….. A fight ended, the lights dimmed, the sound faded, everyone craned to get a better view, what was stirring on the distant stage? then a spotlight picked out a figure…..superb drama……it was him, Buakhaow, he played the part superbly; the Thai Warrior, here to do what he has to do…to fight for his people……He entered the ring, the sport and the nation’s hero, proud, with the Thai flag round his shoulders and a portrait of His Majesty the King above his head. He then showed his true professionalism, putting all the fuss to one side and putting on a show of superbly controlled and timed aggression to overcome the dangerous Russian, Zarapov. He won with a 2nd Round k.o and how the crowd roared their appreciation. Then….the THAIFIGHT’s eye for the moment…….Buakhaow was interviewed immediately in the ring, fighting for his breath and fighting to keep on top of the tumult of emotions he was feeling, he made an impassioned speech from the heart that had the thousands in attendance and millions watching on tv mesmerised. He said that he was fighting for his village, for Surin and for Thailand and for the THAIFIGHT organisers who had treated him well-he said that he had given them his word many months before that he would fight, and he was a man of his word; if he had to go to jail the next day so be it…the crowd, many of whom knew all too well the injustices wrought by the Thai class system roared their approval, then the theatre was ratched up another notch, but it was never maudling, because it was real, sincere, true; Buakhaow’s father was brought into the ring, the son bowed at his father’s feet, father looked a humble man but the pride he must have felt seeing his son perform and speak in this way must have been huge. In doing this Buakhaow showed the watching Thai society and the watching world a part of the sport that followers such as myself find so fascinating, the insight it gives us into Thai society and culture and the capacity it has for the noblest of emotions to be expressed…from the heart….it was real;it all made for an unforgettable experience.Real emotion, real people real Thai culture for the world to share and appreciate.
So there you have it, the realisation that we aren’t just talking about another exciting sport, we are talking about a culture which can fascinate and thrill. Here’s looking forward to the next time……
Philip Wilson
January 2013
Footnote; since writing this piece THAIFIGHT have announced 2 shows, in Ayuddhaya in February and again in Pattaya in April and have advised they would like us to continue as commentators.

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