In THAILAND’S brutal real-life fight clubs, amateur fights are fought in front of screaming onlookers.
BRUTAL Real-Life Fight Club exists on the streets of Bangkok, where amateur fighters brawl in front of barking crowds.
Shocking images show two shirtless men fighting in a makeshift ring set up between some shipping containers in a 1999 Thai adaptation of Fight Club.
In the capital of a country known for its highly technical martial arts scene, amateur fighters regularly gather, promising to exchange nothing but blood and bruises at the underground club.
While the fight resembles a particularly frantic boxing match, the setting – in a poor waterfront neighborhood – is a far cry from the glitzy charm of Muay Thai boxing stadiums.
“You don’t have to be able to fight here. You just have to have heart and that’s it,” club co-founder Chana Worasart told AFP.
The 30-year-old founded the club in 2016, partly inspired by the cult film Brad Pitt, to give amateur fighters a chance to test their skills – or just vent their aggression.
He said, “I think the popularity is due to a variety of professions and fighting styles that are different from the styles in the (pro) ring.”
That’s certainly the appeal for 23-year-old contestant and grocery store owner Surathat Sakulchue.
Fighters are expected to use all four limbs to dish out and absorb punishment and are “quite different” from traditional muay thai fights, he explained.
He added that “combatting with containers surrounding us is just fun and exciting.”
Contrasting with the film’s famous line that forbids fighters from discussing their club with outsiders, the Bangkok-based outfit calls itself “the ring that will turn violence into friendship.”
The group has become a local sensation, with a private Facebook group that has 73,000 members, as news of the underground fighting broke.
Fighters are allowed to go all out in a single three-minute round – with no winner or loser declared – but the fights aren’t entirely all-out.
Elbow bends, grappling, knocking opponents down and punches to the back of the head are strictly prohibited.
Not surprisingly, the gatherings have not escaped the attention of Thai police.
Authorities were alerted to the underground fighting in 2016 – which allegedly violated the boxing law and carried a one-year prison sentence and fines of up to $600 – but despite occasional low police presence, fighting continued.
Meanwhile, the club insists it’s not subject to boxing law, meaning organizers won’t stage unsanctioned bouts.
Co-founder Chana says the group has been approved by the Department of Provincial Administration.
“I’m not opposed to turning this into legal, sanctioned struggles, but at the same time we can’t lose the underground identity, so the question is where’s the balance?”
All this is a far cry from the seedy club’s beginnings, when there were no clear rules.
Now there are combat policies, screening procedures, a risk acceptance, and protective equipment and medical supplies on site.
“We are not asking the fighters to kill each other. If you’re too tired or too injured to continue, we’ll stop the fight,” Chana said as another fight began.
After paying his respects to his opponent with folded hands and touching gloves, amateur fighter Ilya Ostroushchenko gets to work.
Ostroushchenko lands a kick to his opponent’s torso and unleashes a combination of punches, and a left hook to the face finally causes his opponent to stumble onto the rubber mat.
The crowd roars enthusiastically “Somchai” – a traditional Thai masculine name given to the Russian – as the fight ends.
The 22-year-old Russian, who appeared cool and composed during the fight, told AFP it was nerve-wracking just before stepping into the informal ring.
“My hands are shaking. My knees are shaking too, but when I go to the center I feel good,” he said.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5225451/brutal-real-life-fight-club-amateurs-brawl-bangkok/ The brutal, real-life “Fight Club” features amateur fighters brawling on the streets of Bangkok in front of barking crowds