The Argentinian

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
About a Muay Thai fight I attended in Thailand. Wrote this one a while ago.

Submitted: July 14, 2015

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Submitted: July 14, 2015

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The Argentinian pulled sinew and bone into a tigers gait for the march towards the ring. Embroidered over the royal red of his shorts were the scorched words of an Eastern God, standing as the fighting man’s parable before he reached the ring. His entourage trailed closely behind him, stone faced as they pressed their palms and nodded to the crowd. The last of them carrying a sheet of rusted metal that curved around to create an iron bowl, its corners already spattered w2ith flecks of dry blood.

The crowd rose as he swung a thick leg over a ring rope, and as his second foot hit the canvas he pumped his chest outwards to flash a grin towards the Thai standing across from him. The Thai’s body a lump of sagging flesh, arms dangling slowly from a thread of thinly veiled tendon.

 I turned to see my friend stirring a diet coke; he looked at me and nodded before going on to say,

‘See the Wai Kru they’re doing there?’

I looked over to see the two men praying at opposite corners of the rings before walking to the middle and encircling it. The Argentinian walked an inch behind the Thai, his chin tucked into the small of his chest so a sick smile could meet the blaring white eyes in their hunt for the smaller man.

The Thai walked ahead, a soft smile to the crowd as his gloved hands swung light in the thick of the air.

‘This is just a game of chicken.’ My friend said, ‘The last to go down wins the first match.’

I only realized what he meant when I saw the Thai kneel down first in the middle of the ring, the Argentinian smirked before going down next to him.

‘The Argentinian won.’ My friend said.

They stood up as if bound to one another, the Thai’s bowed head was about the size of the Argentinian’s bicep, and in the stare down he was forced to arch his neck so to meet his opponents eyes when they touched gloves.

‘Here’s my guess.’ A man next to us said, ‘Whitey’s some rich guy who decides to come to Thailand to learn some “Mai Tai”, walks in to fight some washed up part time fighter who drives Tuk Tuk’s for a living. Get’s to be the hero one day, and the Thai takes the fall to feed his family. It’s fucked.’

‘He’s right.’ My friend told me, ‘The Thai’s got no fire in him.’

The Thai raised two fists over slumped shoulders and gave a sigh before he took two steps forward.

‘He doesn’t expect to win.’

His belly sagged over the bright orange waistband of his shorts, and trembled every time he ate one of the Argentinian’s shots.

‘Guy’s probably been fighting since he was a kid, probably had some good days too. Now look at him.’

The Thai pushed against the ropes, leather on flesh as his head snaps back and forth with the rattle of a speed bag.

‘Probably tried to get out of the game, probably didn’t have the money to go through with it.’

The Thai’s face is cracked open and now it’s like a gruesome parody of what it used to be, and with each punch he falls further and further into the caricature of a boxer.

‘Probably going to have a dozen more fights, they’ll be just like this one.’

The bell rings to call the first round, their corners greet each of them and as they face each other they are bathed in lights of gaudy motley and gold that drip over the ring at the sound of Cream’s ‘White room’.

The Thai’s arms are dragging over the ring canvas as he sits on his stool, his tongue nearly comes out and we watch as the corner man quickly shoves it back in using a mouth guard. Not a word is spoken by either man.

The Argentinean gives his corner a stern nod as they shout to him a series formulas and combinations and killing moves.

‘Elbow, elbow, elbow.’ His eyes blood red.

And it seems that not a second has passed till they’re both in the middle of the ring and the Argentinian has placed a slab of elbow into the Thai’s face, and we all stand in our fascination as the Thai falls to the floor before he staggers upwards only to throw himself back into the rope.

The referee waves for them to fight on.

They fight on.

As soon as they touched gloves the bone of the Argentinian’s shin had found the soft of the Thai’s temple, we hear him hard against the canvas and cheer again as he stands. His eyes are hollow, and we’re all wondering what a man thinks at the brink of punch-drunk delirium. My coach once told me there was nothing like it, that it was the only reason he kept fighting.  

The Thai steps forward with his lead leg, and then slides the other over across the ring until it sweeps at the Argentinan’s heels and we’re applauding as he falls.

This is when we hope that it’ll turn into a ‘Rocky’ story.

It never does.

It was the Argentinian’s hand that was raised by the end, the Thai was trying to clap for him through gloved hands, and as soon as he left the ring he went straight to the backroom, came out quickly with a paycheck.

The Argentinian stood by for photos.

‘Good for him, gets to go home and tell everyone he beat a real life muay thai fighter, fucking fantastic, yeah it’s fucking great.’ We hear from somewhere in the crowd.

One of my own coaches had spoke to us after training, put us all against the wall. His hand against his hips as he said,

‘I’ve been fucked over a few times, sure. I train someone and they go off and join another gym, it happens. I don’t care, I don’t give a fuck  as long as I’ve made a fighter. Hell, what else can I do? I can’t fight no more, my back is gone, my hands are shaking. But how the fuck could I leave it now? I left my wife for this sport, you know that? My fucking wife. My kids don’t see me no more, what else is there? Well fuck.’

The crowds are choking the stadium doorway, we walk back and see the ring surrounded by its hundred empty seats.

‘There’s a boy in the ring.’

We look up to watch him, his hands clasped in prayer at the end of two thin arms. His boxing shorts are stained with his own blood, and a kneaded mass of blue and black sticks out from the top of his head.

I say something, he stops and glances at us before going back to his prayer.

He’s going to go back home tonight, but we know he’ll never leave.

It was then that I remembered what my coach had said one of those days,

‘It’s ‘cause these hands don’t know nothing else.’  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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