Philip as Muay Thai commentator pt 1

Posted on: January 26th, 2013 by Philip

As a child growing up in the 1970’s (in England), tv sport was an everpresent, and a big influence; I recall most sportsminded kids accompanying playground games with hysterical shrieks copied from our favourite commentators…….’he shoots, he scores….’ for football……….’and he’s bowled him……’ for cricket….’and there’s the kick….’ as one of those Kenyans started overtaking everyone on the last lap of the 10,000 metres……
I was thus delighted when, in a rather later life, my good friend Rob Cox invited me to join him at ringside providing commentaries for Muay Thai. In the interim Muay Thai had become a big part of my life. I’d trained for many years in Thailand and competed, I had also watched thousands of bouts, sometimes ‘live’, sometimes via Thai tv’s weekly broadcasts; I felt qualified to do the job……perhaps somewhere deeper down there was also a bit of pride and excitement as I felt some emulation of my boyhood commentating heroes.
I’d first met Rob at a Muay Thai gym in London in 1989. He shared my love, not just of Muay Thai but also of Thailand and has similarly spent many years here (Thailand). Rob has spent many many nights ringside at the Bangkok stadiums, taking pictures and writing reports so he has great knowledge of the local scene.
At the outset we spoke with show producers, particularly about the likely audience for the fights and our commentaries. We realised that much of the audience, possibly viewing on cable channnels or via the internet in Europe or indeed anywhere else in the world may know little about Muay Thai, for many our show would be their first experience of the sport. So, Rob and I have always sought to educate and explain, particularly important in a sport like Muay Thai which has much ritual-the prefight ‘ram muay’, the wearing of the ‘mongkon’ headband, indeed the rhythm of the fight and the way that it is likely to be scored by the judges.
We also realise that much of our audience will not necessarily be native English speakers so we try to keep our language understandable and clear. Also bearing the international nature of our audience in mind, we don’t play for laughs, our English sense of humour might be lost on an international audience-some might say it is also lost on our compatriots!!
Commentating demands real concentration, a blink may literally mean missing a knock out or a pivotal moment in a fight. I feel that I have the best seat in the house-and I am being paid to be there so try to follow the action and report and comment appropriately.
Concentrating as we have to brings home some truths about the sport of Muay Thai, making all the more impressive the skills and split second timing of the best and the courage of the fighters who go toe to toe with them. Assessing the fights gives us real insight and proves some recurring points. Perhaps the biggest one for me is the need for a fighter to have confidence, he(or she) must have the confidence to commit strength and power into their shots so that their opponent really has to deal with them. Time and time again we have seen fit, strong, tough international boxers fall backwards as they throw technique so that no weight goes into their attack, their momentum is going away from the opponent, it thus does not worry him, indeed, to the contrary he is delighted to see this retreat, it allows him to size up his reply, to step in and deliver it with maximum force and timing thus the talented Thai fighter appears able to steamroller through many opponents.
Over theyears Rob and I have worked for most of the big promoters, particulatly when Thai and international fighters have been matched, among them have been the Elite series, THAIFIGHT and the various events promoted by the World Muay Thai Council. As lovers of the sport Rob and I are delighted to play a part in promoting Muay Thai to a new global audience.

Philip Wilson
January 2013

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