I’ve found myself in Thailand at the most opportune times for big fights. On my previous trip, I was lucky enough to attend the promoter’s birthday show at Lumpinee Stadium. An event that featured only title fights, Lumpinee Stadium titles and Thailand National titles, with some of the biggest names on the card. I couldn’t have planned that to line-up the way it did, it just sort of happened. I can now say this is an on-going trend for my trips here. Only this time, instead of witnessing incredible fights, I was able to see the end of an era for Muay Thai in Thailand.
Lumpinee Stadium opened on December 8th 1956 and served as one of the top Muay Thai stadiums in Thailand. Now, on February 17th, 2014, this Muay Thai mecca would be coming to an end. Guess who was able to attend… This guy.
There was definitely some planning involved for the last event. Somrak sor. Khamsing and Samart Payakaroon were both in attendance as well. Not to mention, they were giving away free food and drinks. The media was all over it, cameras everywhere, recording interviews of old boxers such as Dieselnoi and Pudpadnoi, who were at some point, some of the biggest names in Muay Thai being featured at Lumpinee. You could feel the excitement of the event right away.
As soon as you set foot into Lumpinee, you can feel the atmosphere, it’s what I would imagine the gladiator arenas of Ancient Rome would be like. You could smell the boxing liniment, of which smells like red hots and camphor oil. You can see the fighters getting their pre-fight rubdown in the back room, as well as getting their hands taped and prepared for battle. In the US, the backroom is usually restricted to media, fighters, cornermen and event staff, but not here, not at Lumpinee.
The overall pace of the event was very interesting, they had the night start off with two amateur boxing fights, which I’m assuming was in an attempt to help promote the Olympic Boxing Team here in Thailand. The rest of the card was pretty action packed, with nothing but top talent. There was standout KO, in which a fighter by the name of Tong (camp unknown) KO’d Dejsakda Sitsongpeenong with a devastating elbow. Tong was the smaller fighter and was able to chop Dejsakda’s legs and use his clinch to setup the finishing blow. Now, KO’s are an interesting thing… On one hand, it’s something that all fighters strive for, but on the other hand, the person getting KO’d might just be completely screwed up for life from that one blow. This is something that not many people think about while watching fights, until they see something like this happen. It was interesting to see everyone’s demeanor change once they realized Dejsakda was being taken out on a stretcher while being completely unconscious.
The main event was Saenchai vs Petchboonchu, in their last time meeting, Saenchai had lost on points. This time was no different. Petchboonchu imposed the same clinch game as last time, which works very well on Saenchai due to Petchboonchu’s size and clinching ability. It was a rather slow-paced fight but still good regardless.
There was also a throwback fight, which featured 2 older Nak Muay who were both in their late 40’s. It was an entertaining fight with some really good technique. You could see the style difference from their era of Muay Thai, to modern day Muay Thai. Both boxers fought with completely different style, and it was cool to see them exchanging in the old Luminee Stadium.
As the fights were winding down and the dressing room was vacated, we decided it was time to go. There was still one fight going on as we left, and then it hit me… That fight would be THE last fight that the old Lumpinee Stadium would ever see. I turned around and snapped a picture, capturing the end of an era.