KHON KAEN STADIUM’S GLADIATOR’S KIDS
Special report by Serge TREFEU (2008)
Khon Kaen is the 3rd biggest North-East city of Thailand. Situated in the heart of Isaan region, there are about 146 000 inhabitants. The Isaan Region and South region are known for producing the best champions of Thailand. Here it is the source of Muay Thai.
The seeds of champions often leave this area which is one of poorest country.
Among the champions most known originated from Khon Kaen here are Krongsak Prakong Boranrat, Somsong Noi, Somrak Kamsing, Kaoklaï Kaennorasing, Robert Kaennorasing, Rolek Kaennorasing, Wanvisep Kaennorasing, Karuhat Sor Supawan and the legend Pud Pad Noy Worawoot !
In Khon Kaen most of boxers come from the places around the city. Indeed, the region counts a several of small camps who have only one or two boxers. Few camps are more important as the Soosompong in Banpaï (40 km from Khon Kaen) and have about 30 boxers in their school.
Before the biggest camp was in the Ban Deng Noï village at 18 km far from Khon Kaen.
It was called the kaennorasing camp from its founder’s Kaendjaï Norrasingh, legendary figure of the Muay Thai in the region. Before the camp was full of little gladiators of the Ring. When they became ready for war, around 14 or 15 years old, the best of them went to Bangkok in big camps such as Jocky Gym.
The structure of the camp, surrounded by rice culture, was really old. A hangar covering a destroyed ring with few old bags. A large part in breeze block without window was used as collective dormitory.
Kaendjaï Norrasingh was looking for young future champions who trained in his camp.
If one of them was better he was sent to Bangkok. At Jocky Gym it was Wanviset Norrasingh, the son of Keandjaï, great champion, who received the boxers. Wanviset managed the camp with Somat owner of the Jocky. Champions like Kaoklaï, Robert, Rolek, Yotchaï and Ningmongkon have kept the name of their ancient camp where they have grown up and fought, in honour to their Khrou (master). That’s why they are called Kaoklai Kaennorasing or Robert Kaennorasing. It is their fighter’s name.
Unfortunately, many kids who dreamed of glory and wealth never went to the capital.
Only the best lead a careers, the others went back to work hard in the fields while carrying with them that their courage’s.
Today, there is only the structure of the camp but the villa of the famous Keandjaï Norrasingh is still there. Very sumptuous it contrasts with the other modest houses of the village.
Little fighters of this camp have fought a lot in the village parties on improvised rings. Village parties are taking place every weekend. But once or twice in the month big meeting are organised in Khon Kaen.
There are no permanent stadium in Khon Kaen as in the cities such as Buriram, Roi Et, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin and Yasothon who are smaller. On Saturdays night a stadium is built of all pieces for the occasion. The place and the city where the stadium is to put up is never the same. People are informed of the place few days before the event. Just the promoters, bookmakers, family members of the boxers and some people of the district are informed of where the event will be…
The outside stadium is composed of metallic walls to surround an elevated ring in the centre. The entry costs 180 bahts for everyone. There are no seats, every body stand up around the ring. In the corners of the stadium, families seat down on the floor on the mats to bring themselves.
The beginning of the fights is announced for 8 p.m. 30. But at 9 p.m. 30, the fights have not started. Nobody has entered the stadium because the majority of people as usual find where the place is. The families sometimes come from very far away and know few about the big city. Many are rural the very poor ones which takes along their own children boxer. Also camps as Soosompong always have several fighters ready to fight in these great evenings. People arrive in pick up sometimes brand new or in hurdy-gurdy rusty small van there. They sit often piled up behind, wrapped up in coverage’s not to catch a cold on the road.
While people settle down in four corners of the surrounding wall, the promoters begin to organize the fights between young boxers. There is no weight, fights negotiated at the last time. The small fighters which have in can near the same number of fight and the similar size shall meet. Some time of long discussion everybody all right are necessary to put.
The atmosphere is very familiar, there is many local alcohol and the bookmakers laugh with the boxer’s family. Kids are overlapped with “Nammuay” (heating oil) and train few minutes before fighting.
The matches will go on till late in the night. The youngest fighters have 9 or 10 years old with already about fifteen fights. The oldest are 12 or 13 years old and some of them have more than 50 fights!
Fights are intense and all the Muay Thai techniques are offered to public, except elbows used rarely by young boxers. The K.O are very rare because the power is not the same as adults. But after their possible victory one can read in their eyes a great pride. These young gladiators already have the “Fighting Spirit” in them and are ready to fight in Mythical Bangkok’s Stadiums.
Who knows, Among these young warriors are hidden future Seanchaï (Maha Sarakham), Leucila (Chum Phae), Kaoklaï (Khon Kaen), Somrak (Khon Kaen), Buakaw (Surin) or Yodseanklai (Khorat)…