Last night we took a trip into the unknown at Tampa Muay Thai’s Bangkok Bash. Going into the event we knew very little about the sport so we were eager to see what all the hoopla was about. We had been hearing about the event for weeks but last night our wait was over as we headed to Tampa Muay Thai on N. Howard Ave.
This event was the unveil of their new gym and let me tell you, they did it up big. We walked into a huge gym and were greeted by the Tampa Muay Thai girls. We checked in, grabbed tickets for food and drinks and walked past the step and repeat. We decided to grab some food before the fights started and headed over towards the “concession area”. They had authentic Thai food from The Star Thai and Sushi in Sarasota that included chicken and basil with rice or chicken panang with rice. I opted for the chicken and basil while Rob had a little bit of both. I’ve only had Thai food one other time but this was delicious. Definitely somewhere to try when in Sarasota.
Around 6pm it was time for the fights to start. An announcer jumped in the middle of the ring to introduce the Bangkok Bash event and thank the sponsors. some of which included TUFMED and Irish 31. After that was over it was time to begin. Muay Thai is a very traditional sport that includes traditional Thai music while the fight is happening, but each fighter has their own walk out song just as any other sport. It was a great way to keep the audience upbeat and dancing in their seats. Seats that were totally full might I add. At the start of the fights it was standing room only. Each fight was comprised of three rounds, each three minutes long. The night included 7 Muay Thai fights, a pro exhibition, and a boxing match.
In the middle of the first fight Ryan and Nicholas joined us as we all took in the event. Luckily for us, we had some friends in attendance as well, friends that knew a bit more about Muay Thai than us (not that it took much) They informed us that the sport is scored depending on the strikes each fighter has on their opponent. Punches are apparently the least amount of points. So if one fighter pummels the other with punches, yet gets struck by a knee or kick a few times, they could potentially lose. We also learned a few differences between amateur and professional fights. In an amateur fight fighters are required to wear head gear, professionals are not. As far as the fighting is concerned, amateurs are not allowed to kick or knee to the head while pros can. Check out some amateur action below:
At the end of the first fight we grabbed a Singha Beer (the original Thai beer) and walked around. I took the time to stop by the Rugaz Rescue table where I met Chloe. I was informed that a portion of the proceeds from last night’s event went towards their organization. Their mission is to rescue pitbulls and place them into loving families. Last night they had 2 pitbulls, the adorable Lilly and Justice available for adoption. What a great cause!
The next few fights brought some great action and the crowd was really getting into it. In the beginning it was explained to us that Muay Thai is a very crowd involved sport. It was encouraged to yell Awayee (spellling?) when one opponent had a good strike against the other. We joined right in and were having a great time. In the middle of the fights we were treated to a demo by pro fighters Alex Berrios and Ben Mars. They were dressed in traditional Muay Thai garments including a “mongkol” which is a sort of headdress that is believed to keep the fighter safe and free from danger.
Before the final two fights, which were said to be the co-main events, they did a few raffles. One of which included a free year to the Muay Thai gym. After the winners were announced it was time to wrap up the fights. The first one ended fine but the final event ended in a no contest. Since we had no idea what that meant, we asked our friend who let us know that the move the fighter did was illegal. After it was all said and done it was time to leave as the crowd was moving to Irish 31 for the official after party. For coming in with little to no knowledge of the sport we definitely left way more informed. We were told that Tampa Muay Thai is aiming to put at least 3 or 4 fight nights on each year and we strongly encourage you to come out for the next one, we had a blast!