For a long while I’ve wanted to do a shoot at a muay thai (Thai boxing) gym, but didn’t really feel confident enough to just show up at a random gym & see if they’d let me in. Fortunately I few months back I connected with renowned muay thai journalist Matt Lucas on Twitter (@mattlucas1968) and he said he’d be happy to take me along on one of his regular visits to the gyms of Bangkok. So early this week we finally got together & headed down to one of the most venerable gyms in the city, PK Saenchai.
PK is a former boxer himself and the gym is now run mainly by his son Game, and staffed by some tough, grizzled – but extremely friendly – old trainers who were putting the boxers through their paces when I arrived. Fighters train for around six hours a day which involves running, weights, bag work, pads and sparring, in a space with no aircon or fans. I was sweaty and exhausted just taking pictures so it was a testament to how fit they all are that they do this six days a week.
I also met Ognjen Topic, a US-Serbian fighter who is one of many foreign fighters in the sport, as he prepared for his next big fight this weekend. “Thais love foreign fighters” he told me, “and even when we’re fighting against Thais they cheer for us”.
I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours shooting at the gym – everyone was really friendly and the boxers and trainers were far too focused on their training to bother about me wandering around photographing them, which is just how I like it. It turned out to be my most enjoyable shoot of the 50+ I’ve done so far this year. Big thanks to Matt and everyone at PK Saenchai!