[Photo: Nick Yoon Photography]
There’s something that really pisses me off. I know, I’m always pissed off about something.
But this one is legit – Lumpinee stadium fighters.
I’m not talking about the real warriors who fight on the televised Lumpinee shows week in, week out. Or the Western legends who shaped the sport in the west and paved the way for others.
I’m talking about the westerners who fight on the non-televised shows and brag about fighting in Lumpinee, as though they have attained greatness just like the real legends such as Ramon Dekkers, Danny Bill, Jean Charles Skarbowsky, John Wayne Parr and alike.
ANYONE can fight in Lumpinee. You don’t have to be the cream of the crop.
Let’s rewind a second. I already mentioned this issue a while ago on the post Why You Should Definitely NOT Have A Muay Thai Fight (and probably a few others), but I was reading this post earlier on the 8LimbsUS blog and it reminded me that I was supposed to elaborate in a separate post.
As I travel around the muay Thai gyms in Bangkok, one of the things that is blatantly obvious is that Thai trainers and gym owners will try their best to get any Tom, Dick or Harry to fight in Lumpinee. I think pretty much every gym in Bangkok tried to get me to fight in Lumpinee – before they had even seen me train!
Naturally, I declined due to the fact I don’t particularly enjoy fighting for 5,000 baht in an empty stadium.
They weren’t offering me fights because I was some amazing fighter who was going to change the world like the legends before me – far from it. They wanted me to fight there so they could make some money out of me (this post on muay Thai traditions pretty much sums it up).
You see, their are different types of shows at Lumpinee; you have the legit shows which are the ones you’ll watch on the Thai TV channels which feature the best fighters in Thailand (these are the fights with real money on the line and demonstrate muay Thai at its highest level).
Then, you have the non-televised shows which basically feature anyone who wanted to fight that day, including people who have NEVER fought previously. Yes, you can have your first fight ever in Lumpinee. These shows are just put on to get a few extra tourists paying money to watch fights at the stadium, many of which may not even notice the difference in quality. Although the stadium isn’t packed out, the fighters get paid very little so there is still money to be made by the promoters.
Fighting on the latter type of show is not a mark of greatness, nor is it a sign that the fighter is even competent – there are some awful fights on those events. It is an indication that the fighter’s trainer wanted a kick-back from the promoter so he decided to throw them in the ring.
Now, it may seem like I’m having a go at people who take part in those fights. I’m not. A fight is a fight – it doesn’t matter where it takes place or at what level it is at, it’s still a fight. Anyone who trains hard and gives their all in the ring deserves respect.
But what really gets to me is when people fight in these shows and make out like they’re superstars for doing so, even though they had to film it on a handy cam and the stadium was half-empty. Their friends back home don’t know any different and they look like a total legend.
It’s disrespectful to the western fighters who are in their mixing it up with the best in Thailand, and disrespectful to the Thais who have dedicated their entire lives to the sport and have reached the pinnacle of muay Thai.
I think it’s part of the whole “Thailand bubble” thing which I spoke about in this post – that’s why there are a lot of delusional people in Thailand. It makes people think they’re someone they’re not.
My message to those people: If you want to fight in Lumpinee – awesome. I’m happy for you. But please don’t mouth off on social media about what a great fighter you are to be fighting in the most prestigious muay Thai stadium in Thailand – you were just a pawn who earned your trainers enough money to get drunk on the weekend.
Fighting at Lumpinee stadium doesn’t entitle you to place your name amongst the legends past and present. Stop being so naive and see it for what it really is.
Many consider fighting in Lumpinee an honour, whether they’re fighting on the televised shows or on the “filler” shows, and I can understand and respect that, as long as they understand the separation between themselves and the fighters who fight on the real shows.Follow MuayThaiScholar