November 8, 2012 by Melissa Ray
What do you think are the three most important qualities in a fighter? A former fighter with more than 300 bouts’ experience and trainer of champions (Fahlaep from Eminent Air Boxing Gym) once described to me his views on the subject.
In his list, his third-ranked item was technical ability—the skill and aptitude for the various techniques. His second-ranked item was discipline—because without the will to endure the hours of hard training a fighter will have no stamina in competition. Top of his list and the attribute he considers most important in the ring is heart (or “jai” in Thai).
Heart is that elusive quality that can separate a good fighter from a champion. It could be described as a natural tenacity—or a determination to fight to the end, irrespective of how tough the going. Fahlaep explained to me that heart is not something that can be taught—a person either has that intrinsic quality or they don’t. A boxer can be a great athlete but without heart they will fail to succeed in the ring when really tested.
This week’s featured video provides an excellent example of a display of heart—in the contest between Pentai Singpatong (red) and Wanchalong Sitsornong (blue) at Lumpini Boxing Stadium on 6th November 2012.
In my previous post I mentioned that Muay Thai fights tend to be more exciting to watch when you know one of the boxers personally. Having known Wanchalong since day one of my 6-year stint in Thailand, and trained alongside him for 6 months at our former gym Muay Thai Plaza 2004 during 2006, I’m always keen to watch his fights and keep an eye on his progress. So, on hearing about his short notice match-up with the powerhouse Pentai—naturally the smaller of the two but famed for his aggressive style—I was interested to see how he would fare.
And the bout did not disappoint. Early in the fight (round 2), Pentai opened up a deep cut above Wanchalong’s eyebrow that bled profusely. Unperturbed, Wanchalong battled on. The two traded kicks, punches, knees and some nasty elbows, in what will surely be rated one of the fights of the year. By round 4, both fighters were cut and Wanchalong looked like he’d taken a shower in his own blood. But heart—and a powerful left kick—carried him through and Pentai eventually yielded after one kick to the rib cage too many.
Wanchalong reportedly received 18 stitches in the medical room after the bout, and both fighters earned the respect of many for such a memorable performance. Watch and enjoy.