The documentary Thai Boxing: A Fighting Chance highlights another dimension of muay thai- one that is not a mere PE or hobby, but rather an occupation, a human cockfight even. It is a profession many Thai kids see as an effective means to generate income in order for them to eke out a meager living. The sacrifices each of the featured fighters had to do (grueling trainings, camps away from their family, health risks) in their journey as muay thai fighters can not be compared to that of what we do at our muay thai PE classes.
After watching this video, I have come to realize that I have no right, no right at all to complain about the muscle pains or shortage of breath I experience at PE. Being a girl, it is Boon Term the female fighter whom I can relate to the most. Because of our gender, we have already been predetermined as weaker and inferior to the male population due to the social constructs dictated by society. As such, we were previously barred from physical sports like muay thai, boxing and basketball.
However, through the heart of tough and determined fighters like Boon Term, the playing field is slowly being leveled because women have proven time and time again that they can compete and fight the same way men can. Among the three fighters featured in this documentary, she sacrificed the most. Leaving her home in order to go to a proper muay thai camp, Boom Tern not only had to withstand her strenuous training but also her longing for family. My personal favorite is 13-year old Gong Prai whose battle had the most at stake.
His battle is not only between his opponent and himself; it is also a battle for survival. Whenever he wins a fight, he always gives the cash prize to his mother- who also happens to be the mother figure to several other kids who share the common love for muay thai. Gong Prai is an inspiration and role model to the youth because he fights for his family and village more than anything else. Winning cannot be measured by the number of victories or losses, what matters is the amount of wisdom and cognizance we get from these wins/ losses.
Despite his loss, the lion heart he manifested during and after his fight showed the true essence of being an athlete/ fighter. It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down, the more important thing is that we get back up and fight till the very end. Besides, just as Kelly Clarkson says “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! ” Muay thai is not only a sport that promotes a healthy lifestyle, moreover it is an instrument that inculcates to its fighters values that can never be taught by teachers and books. It teaches life lessons can only be learned through experiencing them firsthand.
Only when we feel pain can we feel comfort. Only when we taste failure can we learn to appreciate the glory of success. Working/ training hard makes success all the more sweeter because it is a product of our sacrifices, our own blood, sweat and tears. All 3 fighters are testaments that those values (hard work, determination, discipline, sacrifice, and trust in the Lord) are indeed key ingredients to victory not only inside the ring, but in life as well. After all, just as Ralph Emerson says, “what lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”.