Queen’s Birthday Fights in Bangkok

Matthew Semper wai kru before Muay Thai fight in BangkokMuay Thai fighter Matthew “Sobek” Semper performing a wai kru before his fight during the King’s Birthday event in Bangkok. August/2012.

The Queen’s Birthday events in Bangkok are a pretty big deal. They involve big time promoters who showcase fighters from all over Thailand. A victory, especially a knockout, can do wonders for the fighter’s career. An exciting fight in a loss can do just the same.

Matthew and I took the 12-hour bus ride from Phuket to Bangkok along with his trainer, Kru Kay. The ride includes stops at several local eateries and shops, and not much else. We arrived in Bangkok at 7am on the dot and quickly took a taxi to our hotel. This would be my first time in Bangkok for longer than 1 day.

We arrived to a hotel, which was just down the road from the backpacker’s haven of Khao San Road. It’s a shady building with all the amenities needed for a good stay in Bangkok: bathroom, bed, air con.

After a quick nap, it was off to pick up some custom-made shorts at Matthew had ordered at Top King near the legendary Lumpinee Stadium. Then to some of the best malls in Bangkok – MBK and Paragon. These places have everything you could ever want in one place. They are a long way from the shopping palaces of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Thailand malls are known for their affordability since every “chain” store will most likely have a similar knock-off shop just a few floors away.

Then we saw it.

COLD STONE CREAMERY.

It’s been a long time since either of us have indulged- so we did.

When night came, we basically slept through since it had been a long day. A 9pm sleep session, and we were off again the next day to check out some more of Bangkok. The second night, we met up with a few friends, Danny and his wife Sontana, at Coyote’s on Sukhumvit Road.

Coyote’s is the best Mexican restaurant in Bangkok, and possibly Thailand. The place satisfies all the Mexican food cravings. Plus, it was buy one get one free drink night. Too bad Matthew was fighting the next day, but this guy wasted no time. Pretty soon, one drink turned into six and we got back to the hotel at about 2am.

Queen's Birthday Muay Thai fights Matthew Semper
Matthew Semper weighs in for the Queen’s Birthday Muay Thai Fights in Bangkok in 2013. Photo: JP Mestanza

The next morning, Matthew admitted that his trainer was upset for coming back so late, which led to him getting smacked upside the head. Normal operating procedure, really. It happens all the time during training, worse though.

So it’s the day of the fight. We go to the weigh-ins and find out, Matthew’s opponent pulled out with an injury. Tough blow for someone like Matthew who is looking to to show off his skills to the Bangkok crowd. So Kru Kay makes talks to a few people, does the wai to others, and Matthew suddenly has a fight again – at open weight.

When he gets into the ring and takes off his cape, the crowd oohs and ahhs. It’s safe to say they don’t see too many guys his size fighting in this event.

During Matthew’s wai kru (the pre-fight dance ritual) the announcer tells the crowd in Thai “What a beautiful wai kru”. A note about Matthew’s version: it’s reaaalllly long. Like 5 minutes. Some wai kru’s take just 2-3 minutes. Matthew emphasizes all the movements, since he LOVES to dance, making it super long.

Matthew Semper at the Queen's Birthday Muay Thai fights  in Bangkok
Kru Kay wraps Matthew Semper’s hand before he step in the ring in Bangkok. Photo: JP Mestanza

Bell rings, round one.

Matthew starts out with a combo that includes a low right kick. Eventually he leads the guy to his corner and drops him with a hook. The round ends with Matthew putting a hurting on his opponent. The second round saw Matthew just box the guy’s head in. He knocked him out with two right hooks on the body and another to the head.

Then, he does his Cat Daddy dance and the crowd goes wild. Check out the video here.

Great trip. Got to see a good friend make the step up from local circuit to a win in Bangkok through a knockout victory. Also saw some of Bangkok (emphasis on some).

Queens birthday Muay Thai fights in Bangkok 2013.
Matthew Semper fights at the Queen’s Birthday Muay Thai fights in Bangkok. Photo: JP Mestanza

The city seems crazy, more than New York City. Cab drivers everywhere are not always willing to take you places, or they take you to the wrong spot “by accident” to charge you more. Or, they simply take you to a suit store to check out their merchandise before actually taking you to your destination. “I just want to go to MBK!”

Anyway, Matthew won his fight this time and was asked to come back and fight some more in the future. Here he is after the bout with Kru Kay.

Sobek Semper at Queen's Birthday Muay Thai fights in Bangkok 2013
Kru Kay and Sobek Semper after his KO win in Bangkok. Photo: JP Mestanza
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