My impressions of the new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium

22

February 27, 2014 by Melissa Ray

When news of the impending closure of Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Rama IV Road was announced several months ago, Muay Thai fans around the world reeled in dismay.

Granted, the stadium was falling apart at the seams (the roof leaked in heavy rain and a cat famously fell through the ceiling into the ring during a show last year), but it represented a cultural landmark—the scene of some of the greatest fights in Muay Thai history since opening its doors in 1956.

Major General Surakrai Jatumas (Chief of Lumpinee Stadium)
Image source: http://www.awd-rta.com

However, as explained pragmatically by Major General Surakrai Jatumas (Chief of Lumpinee Stadium) in a video by the Bangkok Post, “Lumpinee Boxing Stadium’s land lease contract ended and changes happen.” The construction of a new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium had been underway in the grounds of the Royal Thai Army Sports Centre on Ramintra Road in the Anusawaree area of Bangkok.

The opening of the new venue was highly anticipated, with a countdown until its grand unveiling. But, as photos were leaked of the new construction, some fans were sceptical. With its space age shape and bright interior, the building appeared slick and futuristic but also sterile and characterless in comparison with the much loved venue on Rama IV Road.

However, after opening night on 11th February, feedback on the new premises was resoundingly positive. So, I was excited to get the opportunity to experience a night at the stadium, on 21st February for the Eminent Air promotion, courtesy of Eminent Air (Sagami) gym boss Mr. Somboon Niruttimetee.

lumpinee 1I travelled to the stadium by taxi with friends Niamh Griffin (former WMC champion and creator of Inspiring Sports Women) and Jamal Younis (who also trains at Eminent Air). As described in Rob Cox’s review, the new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is relatively far from Bangkok’s centre, in the direction of Don Muang airport, and at least a 20-minute taxi journey from the nearest MRT station, Phahon Yothin. From On Nut BTS station, the taxi fare plus toll fee amounted to around 200 baht, which was not extortionate among the three of us but a round trip travelling alone would certainly add expense to a night at the venue.

On arrival at the stadium we took a few moments to take in its structure. The new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is relatively tall, with curved sides and a metallic grey unfussy exterior, and is separated from the main road by a single lane for taxis. Although some ticket touts loitered out front, with the stadium so far out of the city and no opportunity for luring in passing tourists, the touts were fewer in number than I remember there being at the previous site.

Photo by Jamal Younis

The entrance for ringside is located on the right-hand side of the stadium’s facade, adjacent to a single small Muay Thai equipment shop selling Kaewsamrit products (no doubt other brands will have opened stores by the time this post is published). Food and beverage stalls line opposite sides of the building, selling Thai and Western items. The presence of a Black Canyon Coffee is notable, and perhaps indicative of the more upscale image the new stadium is aiming to project.

After several minutes milling around outside the venue, I felt initially disappointed. On fight night at the original Lumpinee stadium, the forecourt would be buzzing with gamblers, tourists and Muay Thai enthusiasts mingling, eating and shopping at the Twins, Windy or Top King stores. Outside, I felt the new stadium lacked the same energy. Had the usual spectators deemed the journey too far to travel, I wondered.

Inside, however, my opinion soon changed. The new stadium’s interior is considerably brighter than the stadium on Rama IV Road, its fittings shiny and pristine. Although the ringside area seems smaller than at the former site, the stands are steeper and higher, with the potential to pack in a larger number of fans, giving patrons in second and third classes closer views of the ring.

We had entered the stadium just after the start of the first fight and as the action heated up, I was stunned by the acoustics. The gamblers had mainly congregated in two sides of the arena and when a roar erupted from this section, the sound resonated throughout the building, causing my eardrums to tremble. Despite the stadium far from approaching capacity, the sound was immense, and I can only imagine the decibel count on a packed fight night.

One of the aspects I had liked most about the old Lumpinee stadium was having the freedom to walk around the fighters’ warm up area and to cheer from the corner if someone was fighting from the gym. However, with none of the Eminent Air (Sagami) boys competing I didn’t attempt to enter either of the changing rooms (separate for red and blue corners) or approach a corner, though there seemed to be no restrictions on access from ringside (though no touching the stage, ladies, as we well know!).

Aside from location, I would say the only negative point about the new stadium is its temperature. In Rob Cox’s report, he described the stadium as “cool, so cool I wished I had worn a long-sleeved shirt”. I would describe it as cold to the point of discomfort (think Thai cinema cold), and wished I had worn a warm fleece and scarf! Wrap up, is my advice to anyone planning a visit soon.

The new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Ramintra Road bears no resemblance to the original stadium on Rama IV Road—the bosses opted for complete change and modernisation. While tourists will surely be impressed by the stadium’s clean and contemporary facilities, I imagine some of the die hards of the sport might still be resistant to the change in venue. I too was unsure but was won over after experiencing the electrifying atmosphere inside. Change might not always be welcomed, but it doesn’t make it a bad thing.

lumpinee openingThe official grand opening of the new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium takes place tomorrow night, with a star-studded line-up including Yodwicha Por Boonsit vs. Petcboonchu Borplaboonchu, Saenchai PK Saenchaimuaythaigym vs. Nong O Gaiyanhaadao, Singdam Kiatmoo 9 vs. Pakorn PK Saenchaimuaythaigym, and the King Fighter 4-man tournament, featuring Sam A Gaiyanghaadao, Sangmanee Sor Tienpo, Superbank Mor Rattanabandit and Superlek Wor Sangprapai. Part of the show will be broadcast live on Channel 5 from 21.30 to 23.30.

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22 thoughts on “My impressions of the new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium

  1. Reblogged this on Thailand Footprint: Impressions left by the books, people, places and music of Thailand and South East Asia and commented:
    Footprint maker and Muay Ying Champion, Melissa Ray writes an excellent essay of her impressions regarding the new Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand …

    • Thanks for the write up Melissa. I look forward to experiencing the new Lumpini Stadium in April. Like you were, I am a little skeptical. I think an overhaul of the image of muaythai is necessary, but abandoning that archaic mass of concrete will surely leave a hole in the soul of the sport.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the write up Melissa. I look forward to experiencing the new Lumpini Stadium in April. Like you were, I am a little skeptical. I think an overhaul of the image of muaythai is necessary, but abandoning that archaic mass of concrete will surely leave a hole in the soul of the sport.

    • Melissa Ray says:

      It was interesting to hear the Chief of Lumpinee’s comments in the Bangkok Post video about accepting change. The old Lumpinee will be demolished soon (sob), no doubt replaced by a condo or shopping centre.

      Ah so you’re back in April? I was asking OT the other day when you were due over!

  3. boxingscientist says:

    Hi Melissa

    How’s it going in Thailand?  I’m  enjoying your blog posts and still impressed by your courage in cutting loose from the rat race  and doing something really hard in a foreign country.  

    The fact is it makes me a bit jealous!  I never had the time to go abroad, and never had the chance to try muay thai or MMA. And it’s too late now, dammit.  Well, at least I understand the addictiveness of climbing into the ring and testing your limits. It may be crazy, but I loved it. Go for it!

    All the best David

    ________________________________

    • Melissa Ray says:

      Thanks David. All’s well in Thailand. The country continues to fascinate me and I very much enjoy my time here. As for climbing in the ring again, I think I’m pretty much done on the competing side. Last year I wanted to train up to experience that adrenaline again, but this year my feelings have changed. Training for fights takes an awful lot of dedication, as you know, and recently I’ve felt that I want to travel more and gain other experiences in Thailand and Asia, not just be chained to the boxing gym! I still train obviously and will always love the sport, and training is a lot more fun without the pressure of fighting. All the best to you too.

  4. It’s bittersweet to hear about the new Lumpinee stadium. The old one definitely needed a revamp but it had so much grit and character. I caught some fights on several occasions, between 2004 – 2007, at the old Lumpinee. I loved it.

    I haven’t been to the new one yet but it does look a bit sterile. Perhaps I’ll like it a lot more once I visit again. We’ll see!

    • Melissa Ray says:

      I thought the same when I had just seen the photos and not visited in person. It’s a different experience to the old stadium but the acoustics make the atmosphere amazing. Definitely worth a trip!

  5. […] Ray of Muay Thai on the Brain wrote a review of her experience of the stadium, as did Rob Cox of Muay Thai Focus (definitely give those a read). They both give further insights […]

  6. Gavin Cousens says:

    Thanks for you post mate. I was last at the stadium in May 13 and am going back to Bangkok with a group of friends in May this year and have been talking up the old stadium up for months now, so devastating…….Tripadvsior still has the old location on its map so very glad I came across your story. You are the bearer of bad news but thank you for the heads up it was very helpful.

    All the very best mate

    Gavin

  7. everything mann says:

    when if ever the prices become good for a traveller then i will see live m.t fights.

    the video reproduction on utube and vdo is garbage..

  8. everything mann says:

    tell us all if they are still triple pricing travlers?

    yeh , they surly do that routienly as days go by.

    and what about the golden era style vs now type fighters ?

  9. The new stadium parking is better than the old one but very far from downtown. The price is the same as old one. To buy cheap Muay Thai ticket, I recommend you buy from agent in front of stadium. You can bargain a bit.

  10. WPR says:

    Hi , Just wondering if there are any Muay Thai shops at the new stadium ? I want to get some training gears . Thank you

    • Melissa Ray says:

      Yes, there are Twins, Top King and Kaewsamrit shops at the new stadium. My last visit was in August so not sure if more have opened up since then but you should be able to find whatever you need.

  11. […] grassy area where you can do yoga, lift weights or paddle on a duck boat. Please note that the legendary Lumpinee Stadium has now moved to a new location at the other end of the […]

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