After a rocky 2012, 2013 could certainly be Jay Matias’s year. The young fighter from New York, who trains out of Sitan Gym, Queens, under Aziz Nabih, knocked out Thai Fighter Arwood Phetchompu in the fourth round at Yokkao Promotions “Muay Thai Combat Mania” in Pattaya on December 30th,2012, and looks set for big things.
Matias suffered a couple of demoralising setbacks in 2012. He lost to Jak Sor. Kinmee by way of a standing count in July at Yokkao Thepprasit Boxing Stadium, and then lost to MMA-Muay Thai convert Christian Mauceri in the Warriors Cup XV in September 2012. Matias was stopped in round two after a cut above his eye was deemed too severe to continue.
However, prior to that unlucky September defeat, Matias was on fire when he defeated Doug Ahammer at Battle at Bally’s on August 11. Matias won by KO in round 2. We don’t have the Phetchompu fight for you, but we can show you the awesome couple of round from the Ahammer fight (see below):
Jay Matias grew up in New York, and from an early age learned that nothing in life worth pursuing comes easy, he says, “ It takes drive and determination, preparation and opportunity to get where you want to be. I remember looking at ads on the train and the bus, thinking to myself, wow I want to be there one day. Advertisements were my portal into a life unseen, the way to keep motivated and moving forward. I hope to motivate others through the actions both in and outside of the ring”.
His preparation for the Pattaya fight was at Sitsongpeenong Gym in Bangkok, which Matias says is “Top level training, very clean facility, and healthy food that tastes really good.” And after such an emphatic win, Matias is keen to crack on with his career; “I would definitely like to fight in the west coast. Lion Fight Promotions would be great.”
Matias puts his recent success down to the bond he has with trainer Aziz Nabih, whom he says earned respect from the Sitsongpeenong Gym trainers, “Sitan and Sitsongpeenong developed a sort of bond because of my trainer Aziz Nabih. They even let him train and hold pads for Sitsongpeenong fighters.”
We all know Muay Thai is a potentially bone breaking sport. All it takes is for a kick to land in the wrong place, for your leg to tense at the wrong time, or for your toes to be pointed at the wrong angle, and then the next thing you know your ankle is snapped or your knee bone shattered.
It’s horrible to see, and no fan likes to see a fighter lose his/her career over a Muay Thai leg break, but all the same it’s neccessary to be aware of the dangers, not to mention that if we’re honest we like to watch a gruesome video now and again, even though it might make us cringe and squirm.
Although these videos are pretty scary, it must be said that leg breaks are pretty rare in Muay Thai, and the majority of fighters go through their career without any breaking of bones. It can happen though, and a good teacher (Kru) will teach students how to avoid such terrible trauma.
So, grab a cup of tea and watch the 4 most gruesome Muay Thai leg break videos:
Last week Jordan Watson was in action again in Bangkok. The British born fighter fights out of the Bad Company camp in Leeds, and has been flying the flag for British Muay Thai with great honor since 2008 when he won the S8 contender UK tournament. This is the first time Jordan has met Eakpracha Meenayothin in the ring, and it was an explosive encounter.
Jordan Watson has earned considerable respect here in Thailand. He’s taken on some of the best, including Yodsanklai, Buakaw, and Saiyok, and has fought well against all. Aikpracha has the edge throughout here, but props to Jordan who continues to take on the best Thai fighters rather than ducking between easy bouts to clock up wins. We have a feeling Jordan Watson will flourish in 2013. Here’s the full fight:
If you needed any more proof that Muay Thai training is a rapid way to lose weight then look no further than British national James Mason. The 27 year old has set a startling Muay Thai weight loss record, losing 100 kg in just nine months training at Tiger Muay Thai camp, Phuket. Such is this epic achievement that Mr Mason’s story has been published by popular British newspaper, The Daily Mail.
The Essex born lad weighed 250kg when he arrived at the popular Muay Thai camp. Prior to this a doctor had told him he was in extremely bad health, and at his previous size was told he’d live no longer than 5 years. At just 27 he was wearing 7XL clothes and his trousers boasted a massive 58-inch (147cm) waist.
The actual stats are even more impressive, because Mr Mason has in fact lost 147kg in a year and a half, but 100kg of that weight loss can be directly attributed to training Muay Thai.
Mr Mason attributes his massive weight gain to poor lifestyle. He regularly binged on greasy food, and hardly exercised at all. He was in dangerously poor health due, which caused breathing trouble, swollen legs and other serious physical problems. After the stark diagnosis, Mr Mason turned to the internet for help.
He found Tiger Muay Thai and made a life-changing decision to leave his job as a car salesman and fly to Phuket to start a new life. Of course the initial training in the intense heat meant Mr Mason could barely walk around the camp, but with sheer determination he would eventually start running 5.5km on an empty stomach, followed by a breakfast of fresh fruit salad, and took part in three or four high-energy Thai boxing sessions every day.
Instead of greasy takeaways and high fat snacks, it’s now grilled chicken with vegetables and brown rice.
He told the Mail, “When I was at school I was captain of the basketball team, I played rugby too. When I went to work I got lazy. My weight just crept up on me over the years, I didn’t want to admit to myself that I needed to change my life.
“One day I went to the hospital and they said, “You have got five years to live”. I then went on the internet and found Thai training camp Tiger Muay Thai and then just upped and left. Now I am training people all over the world,” he was quoted as saying.
To add to the uphill struggle James Mason has faced he caught a leg caught a flesh-eating bug back in 2011, which put him in a Thai hospital for three months, and meant he had to return home for six months He could have lost his leg, and certainly his determination, but instead he returned to his training.
Mr Mason is now back in the UK for Christmas, and told the Mail that his friends cannot believe the change.
“People still don’t recognise me. Mum and dad recognised me at the airport, just, but they had to take a second glance. Some friends here have walked straight past me,” he told the Mail.,
Tiger Muay Thai boss, Will Elliott, said he was “incredibly proud” of Mr Mason and his achievement.
“It’s been pretty inspiring because it hasn’t been easy at all. He had some complications with his leg and was in the hospital and it was pretty serious.
When Mr Mason first arrived at Tiger, Mr Elliott said, “I was just waiting to see if he was going to put his money where his mouth was. He’s lost more weight than anyone here, ever.”
“A lot people make bold claims, but whether they can stick to it with diet and exercise, is another story altogether. I think he surprised everyone. It’s about perseverance – it is early mornings, training even when you’re tired, mental fatigue, and sticking to a diet that may not be that appealing. You have to be disciplined.”
James Mason is committed to continuing to train Muay Thai and losing even more weight. He has organized a 750-mile bike ride from Phuket to Bangkok in January to raise money for disabled children in the country.
Last night saw the curtain come down on the Thai Fight 2012 competition. The Junior middleweight 70kg final saw Buakaw take the title against a resilient Vitaly Hurkou. Despite a height disadvantage Buakaw showed great experience, tussling his opponent to the canvas whenever he needed space to recenter. The veteran was never in trouble, and looked comfortable throughout. However, Hurkou never looked hurt, just tired and wthout answers to Buakaws more experienced ring strategy.
In the 67k division Singmanee Kaewsmrit won emphatically against Andrei Kulebin of Belarus, which was Singmanee’s second win over his opponent in a matter of months. In other results, Igquesang Kor Runthanakiat beat Angelo Veniero in the first round, and Thailand’s Sudsak Sor Klindee beat Gustavo Mendes on points in the 70kg division. In the heavyweight division, Patrice qua teron of France beat Dmytro Bezus of the Ukraine.
We captured all three rounds of the Buakaw action for you below. Until next year, enjoy!
A traditional Muay Thai tattoo isalso known as Sak Yant, and is traditionally used to protect fighters from injury. The tattoos come with ancient blessings of good fortune in battle and in life. The tattoos are drawn using a needle attached to a bamboo rod, and as such take considerably longer to draw than standard needle drawn tattoos. Using a modern needle is said to lessen the powers of the tattoo, and so the majority of fighters opt for the original drawing form. The Muay Thai tattoo artist is traditionally a monk or appointed holy man, and historically the drawing was done in a temple, which all adds to the mysticism of the design and its purported powers.
The tattoos associated with Muay Thai aren’t solely used by fighters. They are fairly general in nature and used by everyday Thai people to promote prosperity in all areas of life. Entwined in Thai Buddhism is Hinduism, Brahmanism and Animism, and as you will see form the popular Muay Thai tattoos below, these ancient beliefs are reflected in the tradition.
1. Hah Taew
Known as the “5 sacred lines”, and made popular by Angelina Jolie, the Hah Taew is probably the most common Sak Yant tattoo. Each of the different lines is assigned a different meaning and blessing, making it the most versatile of all the Muay Thai tattoos. The Hah Taew blesses it’s receiver with success, loving kindness, good luck and protection from evil spirits.
2. Gao Yord
Known as “9 Spires”, Gao Yord brings good luck and protection. You will usually see this tatoo on the back of the neck, however in modern times many foreigners are having this design put on the lower back. It’s geometric design represents the 9 Sacred Peaks of Mount Meru and contains 9 symbolic images associated with Lord Buddha. In Thailand the number 9 is considered lucky, and as things like number plates and wedding dates containing the numeral 9 are well sought after.
Tiger tattoos are often chosen by businessmen to drive away the competition, and in the case of the Muay Thai fighter the tiger provides its owner with strength, fearlessness and protection from evil spirits. The tiger is respected in Thai culture for its prowess in the forest, and it symbolizes the same for the fighter in the ring.
Hanuman is the “Hindu Monkey God”, and bestows its owner with the blessing of bravery and courage, making it a popular choice for fighters. This Muay Thai Tattoo is often found on the arm or shoulder.
Ganesh is the Hindu god easily recognizable by its elephant head. Ganesh represents beginnings and as such it is often chosen by people wanting to start a new chapter in their life. Thai people regularly pay respect to Ganesh and make offerings at shrines to promote prosperity in their lives. Ganesh is also known as the “Remover of Obstacles”, and this translates to getting past a hard point in one’s life, very important for a fighter following a tough training routine and preparing for battle in the ring.
Buakaw was back in action at the Thai Fight – King of Muay Thai – bout against Tomoyuki Nishikawa (28-5). This quarter-final fight followed the recent trend of weak opponents. Nishikawa wasn’t really a match for Buakaw, but to his credit he looked tough and withstood barrages of kicks and knees throughout the bout.
As always we’ve captured the full action for you below. The fight was held in Korat, Chatchai Hall, Nakhon Ratchasima, on the 25th November.
The details for the final are as follows:
Date: 16 December 2012 Venue: King Chulalongkorn Monument Square – Bangkok Thailand Time: 5.45 PM – 8.00 PM Channel: Broadcast on Thai TV channel 3
Ong Bak, The Muay Thai Warrior, arguably the world’s most famous Muay Thai movie, is set to have its own video game. Presented as a 2.5D side-scroller, Ong Bak Tri will feature intense fighting action, impressive free running sequences and highly cinematic quick-time action events. The multiplatform game is being developed by Thai game developer Studio HIVE, and will be published by Immanitas Entertainment in close collaboration with the license holder Sahamongkol Film International.
“We are really excited to be working with such an internationally renowned brand”, comments Christian Sauerteig, CEO of Immanitas Entertainment, “we are confident that we will be able to deliver a game that will appeal to both gamers who love great action games as well as fans of the franchise”. Kan Supabanpot, General Manager at Studio HIVE adds: “We are very happy to collaborate with such an experienced company like Immanitas Entertainment. It’s a great honour for our team to work on the first very first Ong-Bak multiplatform game.”
Ong Bak shot Tony Jaa from potential star to martial arts icon. Famed for its intense action scenes, the movie has since become a legendary favorite in the action genre. Tony Jaa, who is reportedly still filming Tom Yum Goong 2, has licensed his likeness to the game for authenticity, and development is in conjunction with Ong Bak director Prachya Pinkaew, and the original choreographer, Panna Rittikrai. Fans can expect the original Ong Bak experience, with all the killer Muay Thai moves.
“Ong-Bak is well known as a powerful international martial arts brand. We are very selective with our licensing partners and found in Studio HIVE the right partner to bring Ong-Bak to gaming platforms. Their approach to tie in movie and game is the right way to create a perfect interactive entertainment” comments Akarapol Techaratanaprasert, business development director at Sahamongkol Film International.
Ong Bak Tri will be released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and is expected to be on sale in December (2012).
Earlier this year we reported on the child Muay Thai industry in rural Thailand, but that was focused on boys. This time young girls are in the limelight, girls of eight years old. Thailand is again causing a worldwide stir of shaking heads because of a new movie about to be released called Buffalo Girls. The movie, produced by commercial and music video director Todd Kellstein, documents the lives of Stam and Pet, two eight year old Muay Thai fighters.
The girls are prize fighters, and part of an underground industry that comprises over 30,000 participants. With many rural families struggling for money, such fights can support and considerably increase the wealth of a family, yet by all accounts the fights are controversial for many reasons.
The girls don’t wear any protective gear, and remain open to broken noses and limbs, not to mention black eyes and heavy body bruising. The girls train daily, lashing out gruelling training sessions, which is potentially more dangerous than the fight itself. With young bodies that are still growing, there is high risk of injury and stunting of growth.
Todd Kellstein hopes that viewers understand the broader perspective regarding economic inequalities that allow the sport to thrive, rather than simply pointing the finger at Thai people in general. Although Thailand is seen by the rest of the world as a “poor country”, it continues to go through an economic boom, and the divide between the rich elite and working classes continues to grow. The country is plagued by corruption at all levels of society, and when money is allocated to rural communities to boost education, healthy sports and social welfare, only a token portion of funding ever reachesthose in need.
Buffalo Girls opens in New York City at the IFC Center on Wednesday, November 14th. At present it is unconfirmed as to whether the movie will screen in Thailand. Watch the trailer below.
Lumpini Boxing Stadium, Bangkok’s most famous Muay Thai venue, is to hang up its gloves and be redeveloped at a new army sports facility site at Ram Intra. The move comes as the owners of the site upon which Lumpini sits – The Crown Property Bureau - have decided that the stadium should be redeveloped for commercial shopping interests.
Most Muay Thai fans would agree the stadium has seen better days, with the roof leaking during hard rain, and the place a sweat-box during the summer. Developers have said the new site will provide a modern air-con facility. The bad news is the location. It’s unlikely fans will make their way across town on a Friday night in dense traffic to reach the new site which is currently inaccessible by Skytrain. The one thing Lumpini has going for it was it’s location near the MRT and Skytrain. It is also close to a busy Bangkok commercial and tourism district.
No doubt the hardcore gamblers will still make their way town, and no doubt the tuk-tuks will charge tourists extortionate rates to get to the new site, but what of the real fans? No doubt they’ll simply attend more fights at Ratchadamnoen Stadium. That said, a new stadium will no doubt create more appeal for the world media, and hopefully will boost transmission of Muay Thai fights across the globe.
Leaving Behind a Legacy
It will be sad to see the old goat go, and she shall leave behind a huge legacy. Having hosted many great fights, the stadium has been a mecca for Muay Thai boxers the world over. Winning at Lumpini is seen as a rite of passage into professional Muay Thai, and instantly wins the respect of peers.
Lumpini was first established in 1956 on the order of former military man Prapass Charusathiara, who had the stadium built while he was commander of the 1st Division, King’s Guard, in Bangkok. It rivaled the older Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium in terms of facilities, standards and fight bouts.
A New & Improved Lumpini Stadium
The new stadium will be set on five rai, as opposed to the current three rai site. It will have 500 ringside seats, 800 second-floor seats and 2,500 third floor seats, accommodating 8,000 spectators in all (including those standing). The complex will comprise three buildings, of which the ringside building will be air-conditioned. The stadium will still be known as Lumpini, and the second building will have an exhibition hall detailing Lumpini’s history and a Thai boxing museum. The third building will comprise five-floors, with boxers training on the first floor, and the second to fifth reserved for car parking space.
In a statement, Maj Gen Surakai said he expected the new facility might attract fewer customers in the early months of its opening as people are not familiar with its location which is far from the city centre. But finished his statement on a high by concluding, “The history of Thai boxing will be immortalized with a dedicated museum in the new stadium. Everyone, be they local residents or foreigners, interested in the martial artistry of Thai boxing will come here.”
He also noted, “These days, boxers tend to be a lot less forceful and forthcoming with their moves in the ring …They put more focus on physicality and this is where the allure of muay Thai is losing its shine.”
We’re not quite sure what matches he’s been watching? Anyway, let’s not dwell on the past, and instead look forward to a new, modern Lumpini Stadium.