Amongst the many you’ll find fighting in any given muay thai promotion in Isaan, you’re apt to find fighters battling to make it to the stadiums of Bangkok; fighters returning from Bangkok not quite as they were before they left; labourers, foreigners and school girls. Muay thai promotions run on most nights of the week. You’ll meet part-timers and old timers alike; everyone involved in the muay thai game in Thailand, less perhaps some foreigners, is trying to make some cash; the fighters, their families, the gamblers and theirs. Sometimes those lines intersect. Most of my life in Buriram, Isaan, including my social life, revolved around muay thai and muay thai culture.
The practice of muay thai in Isaan, as I know it, simplified, is very much: Train. Eat. Sleep. Train. Eat. Sleep. Depending on which gym you’re training at (assuming you’re at one as some fighters don’t train at a gym), and depending on how often you fight, you can add Fight or Go To Fight after your last meal on any given day. If you’re a student, you can add School after your first meal five times a week. If you’re a journeyman, I don’t know what that entails; I only witnessed them fight in the ring. There is also time reserved for family and leisure, however you choose to define them both.
The photos in this series depict moments of the above life. Moments that peak at nighttime after hours upon hours of training – from the sun setting, to rides in the back of a pick-up truck to and from a fight in the countryside, to the fight itself. Sometimes, if a muay thai fight happens on a Saturday, you may find yourself celebrating at a local bar afterwards, particularly if the money won from fighting and/or gambling was substantial. I’ve added a photo of Tawan Daeng, the main night club destination for muay thai fighters and the working classes in Buriram to allow you a glimpse of the insides of a Thai country night club. Most, if not all muay thai fighters I came across were country boys in Isaan; their preferred music was a reflection of this (Luk Thung and Mor Lam). You can check here for some Luk Thung and Mor Lam.
For more information on Buriram, please visit my other website Buriram Info. It’s a complete travel guide which offers hotel bookings, information on how to travel to Buriram, as well as multiple options of things to do.