Ever wondered what the life of a young, up-and-coming Muay Thai fighter is like? In this photo essay, Coconuts pulls back the curtain to provide a glimpse of what life is like for a small-town athlete who has moved to the big city to pursue his dream of competing.
Chainarong Indee, 16, was born in Nong Khai, the rural northeast of Thailand. He is nicknamed Gai, or chicken. The teen athlete lived in Isaan for most of his life before moving to Bangkok to start his fighting career. He signed a contract to fight for FA Group, a Muay Thai gym near Chatuchak Park.
Gai has fought 90 times and has had 50 wins, 5 draws and 35 losses.
His gym is famous for its Muay Khao, or knee fighting. Gai is one of the younger prospects for the gym at just 16 years old. He is an athlete, a hard working young man and a person who battles to make his dreams come true.
He initially began Muay Thai training after his father brought him to the fights in Nong Khai. From participating in small, local bouts to facing large stadium crowds at Lumpinee, Gai has traveled far from his home to fight.
“This is real love,” said Gai of Muay Thai.
This is Gai. He is 16 years old.
He wakes up before the sun has lit the Bangkok streets. At this hour, there is only the neon light of his room.
He starts his day by running around the neighborhood as the sun rises.
The boxers at the gym are rated. Gai is number six in his group.
Every day Gai hits pads. He trains twice a day, six days per week.
Every session lasts three hours.
As a younger fighter, Gai must assist the older fighters. He smacks one of the more senior fighter’s abs to strengthen them against blows.
He eats Mama noodles with egg for dinner. It is a shared meal amongst the fighters.
He rewards himself with an ice cream from 7-Eleven. He loves chocolate.
It is bedtime and he falls asleep in a shared room. Tomorrow morning he has three more hours of training: running, pads, sparring and fighting. Then, he will rinse, wash and repeat the training in the evening.