A Matter of Heart


November 8, 2012 by Melissa Ray

Fahlaep—former fighter and trainer at Eminent Air Boxing Gym

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.

Muay Siam’s report on Pentai vs. Wanchalong
(published 7th November 2012)

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.

10 thoughts on “A Matter of Heart

  1. Deepy Sidhu says:

    Great article Melissa, and I loved the fight!

  2. niamh says:

    Jai! Great post, it’s the key to everything really. Have to get the balance jai yen/ jai ron and have some jai at all really is pretty important too. Not going to watch the fight now – need to sleep, over the weekend for a treat! Thanks Melissa

  3. Saker says:

    I imagine this can make for some inensertitg fights and possibly some very frustrated blindfolded boxers. I wonder if they have strategies and tips for those who might want to give it a try?

  4. Good post! On the other hand, when you look at the likes of Samart, Saenchai, Somrak etc, it wasn´t really their ability to absorbe punishment and big heart, nor the extremely determined training regime that made them the most popular fighters the sport has seen. Im not saying any of these fighters are lagging on these quantities, it´s just they are so overwhelmingly good in other areas so they don´t/didn´t useally get tested like a normal fighter at the top level would get. As for boxing, same goes for example Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Prince Naseem.

    But when it comes normal “mortals”, heart and determination are the dividing differences in many even matchups that should be the promoter´s goal anyway. Thais prefer to see the rockylike comeback thrillers as seen above more than one sided technical onslaughts with brutal ko´s that westerners seem to be quite keen of usually, not least because of gambling off course.

    • Melissa Ray says:

      Thanks! Very true, the Thais love a good comeback and to see a boxer covered in blood but emerge the victor. Also true, of course, that the gambling plays a big part in their preferences. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      • Thank you for thanking me, but you ducked the original topic ;).

      • Melissa Ray says:

        lol. You didn’t say anything I didn’t agree with! If you read my most recent post I’m suffering from jet lag and my brain ain’t working. Couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say so thought it was polite to say thank you!

    • Jack Harlow says:

      I’d like to disagree. They do have heart. That is why they are recognized as one of the best because they have the biggest hearts of all of them.

  5. […] Matter of Heart – Melissa Ray […]

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