While jamming my way through the island I got the chance to not only train in Muay Thai, but see an evening of world class bouts. Seriously, these guys are legends. What thew me though is how young they start them. Our coaches at Kobra Fight Gym had been training for 15-16 years, and were just youngins themselves at 20 and 21. On the night of the fights I learned that often these wee 5 and 6 year olds are the bread winners of down and out, turmoiled and drug addicted families. At the end of their fight, everyone screwed up money and threw it into the ring, with all proceeds being split evenly between the two boys.
I later met another Thai man, now 30, who had fought Muay Thai from the age of 4. Muay Thai was his life, however the sole purpose was to put his 2 sisters through school and university. Once they completed their studies he retired, but not before being injured so badly he lost all the feeling and strength in his right hand. Like so many Thai he rides a scooter, but instead of having a mechanic re-wire it so his accelerator is on the left side for his good hand, he just crosses his arms over the handle bars and goes for it!