“All fighters in the hallway,” the referee announced. He was short, middle aged, Thai man with large ears. His belly protruded slightly outwards a testament to his waning days. The third man in the ring waited for the fighters to gather in a semi circle in the hotel hallway. It took a few minutes for everyone to shuffle out.
“Tonight we have muay thai rules,” he said. “You all know Muay Thai rules. For amateurs there is no elbow and no knee to the head,” he said with a succinct punctuation. “I want everyone to listen to me and to obey my command at all time. For Pro fight it is pro rules. You can elbow, knee to the head, everything. Any questions.”
Jongsanaan made a motion towards his fighter, Ryan Roy. Jongsanaan thrust his elbow down. Roy nodded and raised his hand.
“And no elbow, 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock,” the referee said. “You have question?”
“No, you answered my question. No downward elbows,” Roy said. The stocky fighter from Fairtex’s gym in Mountain View nodded, mentally taking note of the rules of the game.
The fighter’s returned to their rooms, the blue corner in one room, the red in the other. The rooms were hot, the hottest days of Los Angeles were leaking their heat into the casino. The windowless rooms were on the second floor of the Commerce Casino, above the casino floor and below the ring. The purgatory was evident in the fighter’s face.
“How are you Tong,” I asked. The young Lao/Thai man sat quietly on a chair in the red corner room waiting for his amateur belt fight to begin. He would wait a long time, while the fighters were punctual and brief due to the night’s tendency towards knockout, the evidence of the strain of inactivity was clear. Of the 13 bouts of the evening he would be bout 10 just after the three professional fights on the card.
“I’m bored,” he replied, his face moving only slightly to the utter words expressing his ennui. I nodded slowly. He leaned back on his chair and waited more.
The rest of the fighters and coaches tried to pass the time by wrapping their hands and shadowboxing. I stepped out into the hallway and saw Coke sitting passively on a large lazy boy. His all white suit made him look like a member of the Italian Mafiaso while his dark complexion signaled him out as other. His necklace of Buddhist hung around his neck intended as giving him good luck, and of course the important concept of Buddhism that life is pain and suffering, an important lesson for any fighter to learn. He fiddled with his phone as the time passed by, the 30 year old Thai would fight Mat Emee as the main event of the evening.
I walked upstairs, up from the heated netherland of the dressing rooms and into the main area. The ring was set up in the middle of the conference room with padded seats for the punters surrounding the ring. The venue was small enough that you could pack the house easily and bring the energy of having a full audience yet large enough to ensure that a full house would bring profits to the promoters.
“We’re trying to do something a little different by having the shows on Sunday, and in the late afternoon and early evening. Make it something that people can come to as an afternoon thing, after a busy weekend,” Stand Up promoter Doug Kent told me. Kent and Robin Hart Cohn put on the show and intend on putting on more productions, the next is rumored to be slated for December 5th, the king of Thailand’s birthday.
The fights began at 4:30 and ended by 10:30 a quick evening that spared the audience of the same waiting period that plagues all fighters.
The night’s bouts began with an amateur conflict between Chris Beary and Daniel Hwang. Clad in protective gear; head protection, shin guards, and gloves, the two engaged in a battle of punches with occasional kicks. The bout seemed more of a drunken dance than a conflict between seasoned fighters. The two strode around the ring inebriated by their own exertions. The bout ended after three rounds with Chris Barrey winning the unanimous decision.
The second bout between Cruz Ronald and Chris Adkarian was more entertaining. Cruz is a short, somewhat chubby man while Adkarian is a tall ripped giant in comparison. The height difference didn’t prevent Cruz from swinging haymakers like a Midwestern farmer bringing in the harvest. The shorter Cruz landed his swipes and dazed Abkarian and then was able to bludgeon his way to victory by knock out. The bout was proof that sometimes being short and a little chubby isn’t always a bad thing.
While the first few bouts were ameuterish the fight between Fairtex’s Lawrence Ward and So-cal’s Glen Spencer was far more entertaining. Ward pushed forward with punches and the two engaged in a back in forth in the clinch. Spencer was able to execute cleaner and more explosive techniques while Ward attempted to gain ground through heightened activity, pushing the pace of the fight. A unanimous decision went to Spencer, when the bout in my eyes should have been a split decision going to either of the equally matched fighters.
Ward & Spencer
The knocks would continue when Steve Tamayo knocked out Yard fighter Uamato Miura. Miura had his chin up the entire fight, and didn’t learn his lesson to keep his chin down after the first eight count Tamayo gave him. Sadly for Miura, the lesson was reinforced with another hook that knocked Miura out cold. He was unconscious before he hit the ground like a sack of potatoes.
The professional fights were on by 6pm with Shane Oblosnky fighting Anthony Mcdavitt. Oblonsky came out with enthusiasm that sailed him forth to victory when he knocked out the shorter, but tough McDavitt. McDavitt struggled to recover after he had been sit to the ground by a blow from Oblonsky but McDavitt’s struggles were futile and he was unable to beat the count.
The main fight was worth the entire event with Coke Chunuwat of Pacific Ring Sports fighting Mat Embree a Canadian. Coke came out to Busabaa, a song by Thai indy rockers,Modern Dog while Embree came out to the more traditional Thai music. The bout started after two elegantly done wai khrus. Embree started strong with Coke starting slower. The taller, thinner pressed most of the fight, Coke, however, gained ground starting in the third round. Coke finished out the bout strong enough to win the decision and the MTAA belt.
Round 1, the rest of the fight can be found here
The next prefight between Fairtex’s Ryan Roy and the Yard’s Joe Schiling was an onslaught of brutalism similar to downtown LA’s architecture. The much taller Shcilling, whose nickname, “Cut’em up,” leaned his frame on Roy through much of the fight. Leaning on the smaller fighter enabled him to bend Roy’s head over and tag him in the head with knee strikes. Roy looked impassive during the bout, a figure of stoicism even when Schilling elbowed him in the back of the head with a 12 o’clock to six o’clock elbow. I guess Schilling was more focused on his bad intentions than the rules. The fight was ended just when Schilling was gassing out, right when the fight could have become more interesting. Schilling was able to barrage Roy with a series of elbows and the referee stopped the bout due to unanswered blows.
Tong got into the ring shortly after the Schilling/Roy bout. After his opponent Beto Rodriguez, from LA Sidotyong, did a competent wai khru, the bout started with Tong being the aggresser. He pushed forward with simple hand combinations, the old one two and followed the punch combo with hard kicks whose strength resounded in the room. The satisfying slap of the kicks could be heard repeatedly throughout the bout and after 5 rounds of action Tong took home the belt for Pacific Ring Sports in Oakland where he trains with Coke.
“Before the fight I weighed 155lbs,” Petro said prior to the bout.”I had to drink so much water, then I weighed in a pound heavy,” Petro continued with a wry smile on his face. Petro moved up in weight from his normal weight class of 142 to 160. The watery weight floated him to victory with a third round knock out against his opponent Andy Lazari in the middleweight amateur bout.
Jesse Magusen fought Oscar Sanchez in a MTAA amateur title fight. The light featherweights fought a technically interesting battle with Sanchez winning the bout. The last of the thirteen bouts was between Robert Wendinger and Ryan McAbee at cruiserweight. Wendiger won the third round fight capping off a smooth evening of solid Muay Thai.
More about Matt Lucas
Born to a working class family in rural New York I grew up working like a dog and drinking Natural light in the woods. After a brief stint attempting to escape the poverty of employment via university I gave up on escaping the grind and moved to sunny California where the burritos are as generous as the weather. I work in the service industry slinging booze and food.
I got into Muay Thai as a recreational activity. I saw an interclub fight and decided to try it out, everyone has to test their mettle somehow. A few fights and a year later I was in Thailand training, and fighting. I haven’t quit stepping into the ring since. I currently live in East Oakland and balance my time blocking punches with my head with attempting to prevent brain deterioration through writing, studying Thai; language, culture and history, and going to wild dance parties with my friends.