So the other day at dinner my cousin talked about his recent Thailand travels. And he suddenly brought up my fight. He said, You fought right?
I was surprised for a spell, ngl, because I forgot all about it, it’s really not that important, I had thought. But in a sense, I guess it is, its receipts, and shows a token of bravery, fearlessness, and maturity, since this was all now in the past, and I’ve done so many other things since then that this feels like nothing for me, now. And thats how a man should be. He should do so much, and be so much, that each milestone pales compared to the next one, the next bigger one.
But apparently he had remember it. Cool. And he asked me what happened. And then I realized, well guess what, its time to whip it out again (since it was fully describe in my first book LLT (2019)).
Lets paint the picture first, storytime:
The boat approached the beach, my beach, and everybody was unscathed. Boozed up good, and still full of life and laughter. Tiger went ahead. I didn’t know how drunk I was. Momo had given me and Pikey stronger drinks. We made jokes he wanted us as his boyfriends too. Thing was strong as fuck. But we downed it like champs.
The after effect wasn’t pretty. Not on me. No. Far from it. I handle my liquor, like a boss. No. The damage was on something else. There was a big plastic box full of keys and phones and valuables. The whole cruise my phone stayed inside as Tiger shot all if not everything, on his iPhone and GoPro. I took my phone out, and walked with it, in my hand, towards shore.
Then I tripped. Face forward, then my whole body, cos I was feeling the liquor effects. My orientation was pretty shot I have to admit. I went under. But so did my hands. So did my phone. And it was night night. My phone never saw daylight after that. After this incident I was fully off the grid. No phone, no internet, no nothing.
It was dinnertime already and we ate at this cozy place beside our resort. It was on the side of the main road, if you could call it a road or main. Since the streets of Phi Phi were like alleys. With restaurants and shops lining them. This restaurant was one of them. It seemed like a mini food court, and the tables were scattered, in between exotic plant pots. The waiters walked to your candlelight tables, to and from the bar which functioned as a food delivery point.
At dinner Tiger was nervous and talked about his upcoming fight and asked me if I’d join. I said I would. He didn’t have the stomach to eat but had a burger anyway. He said it was all he needed. Fats, proteins and carbs. I was fine. Not nervous. I was unphased really. I drank a nice lassi drink, mango, and had some protein.
Beside us girls were being lit, and into us, and asked if we’d take their picture. We talked about this and that, and the reggae bar, and our upcoming fight. They were a bit groupie and said they’d come and see the fight. They didn’t really get the part that we’d fight too. They just love the spectacle, I guess.
We paid cash and left the restaurant, and took a left, and then a right. Snaking our way into the labyrinth of small alleys and stands, to the Reggae Bar. Mind you the streets were buzzing with life and the vibe was perfectly safe. Even though it was almost pitch black. I’ve been to many places in the world and never felt as safe as then.
As with most Thai bars and clubs and restaurants, the Reggae Bar was completely open. A statue of a Muay Thai fighter stood by the opening. It was fighting another one. There was a line being formed, people huddled up near the bar. We joined and smushed in, asking if there was a cover fee. There wasn’t, but you had to buy a drink. Tiger had a Long Island, and I a vodka Red Bull.
I’d been drinking for so long, and so many days, five or more I think, that I didn’t even feel the buzz of a new drink anymore. I thought I was perfectly fine.
We left the crowd, who were just gazing the ring from afar. We took a look up close. The thing was huge. And placed higher. It was your typical Muay Thai kickboxing ring. Just a square, four sides, with red ropes all around, and a canvas to stand and fight on. I hadn’t seen a ring in a long time. The thing oozed of primal energy.
The atmosphere in the bar was dense. So thick you could cut it. I could sense that in the bar there were loads of aggressive people. Not how you’d consider ‘aggressive’ normally. The random brawler going full ham on somebody, just cos their sleeve got wet with beer. No not that. Sure, those guys were a plenty. But what I’m talking about is more stoic. Cold and calculated. I was talking about all the fighters. They sat on the left side, on tables, having a drink. Or straight ahead, at back, on benches, scoping their competition who had entered the ring. And some were just walking about, to and fro. Being all bro and ballsy and brass, with their brothers. Hey, hoo, ah, just loud primal noises.
Lots of Moroccan and Algerian boys. Slavs too. Big Caucasian boys, guessing UK boys or Muricans. And of course the local vicious Muay Thai fighters. They had good physiques man. Cut. Totally ripped to the bone. Sinewy. All tense, with stored explosive energy. Ready at any given moment, to bite your head off.
I loved every second of it. The arena, the animalistic healthy rival animosity, the fighters, the warrior spirit being kept alive. Tiger was enjoying it too, mixed with the still present nerves. I was fine, cool and collected, sipping my vodka.
We’d met two Belgians on the Boat to Kho Phi Phi, who’d join us at the Reggae Bar. They texted me, and I told them we’d sit at back. On the left, at the tables, near the bar, sat the two girls from earlier. They looked like vultures. All with smiles and anticipation. Waiting for the meat to fall. They were cute but we didn’t vibe and I forgot about them and focused on the fight.
We sat and watched some epic fights. First just to get into the zone, I guess, and second, just to have some fun, and watch the competition. First up was some kind of exhibition match between Thai locals. Tiger said it was fake, and the punches were telegraphed, pulled, and exuberantly ostentatious. I didn’t see it, but Tiger has a background in martial arts and used to be a MMA fan. He did some years of boxing and these days did some kickboxing and Muay Thai. Before I came to Thailand, he took some private lessons North of Thailand.
Third reason we were having a look was to see how the whole Reggae Bar thing worked. How did random tourist fight one another? The first fight came on. It was two white boys. One was huge, wore a wifebeater and looked like your typical bro. A Chad. I think they came from the UK, or America. Thing is one of the dudes had boxing experience. Years, he said. Tiger asked him. The other had some fight experience too. He was lanky and long, had mass on ‘em, but didn’t look like a fighter. I wasn’t expecting much.
I was right. They were absolutely bonkers crazy. No technique whatsoever. Boxing experience? Some fight experience? My ass. They were just doing superman punches, and bolo punches, and wild swings all over the places. Jumping around the ring. There, and then there, and then a wild right haymaker. Which missed. And then the other guy did the exact same thing. It was entertaining that was for damn sure.
One thing that fight cleared up was how the system works. You walk up to the ring. Ref comes down, and gets you. Takes you up. Sets you center stage, middle of the ring. Raises your hand. Hooa. You’re all shivery, torso naked, and in shorts. Scowl on your face. One hand high, clutched by a tanned Thai hand, a gest, daring others to enter the arena. Your other hand low, by your side, clenched, in anticipation of the bestivity which is about to take place. You’re not done yet. Your breathing is heavy, as a an opponent stands up, from amidst the crowd. It’s on. Your opponent gets in his shorts, and goes up the steps, and in the ring and on the canvas.
Tiger and I got it, and we sipped Long Island and vodka. Up next was a Moroccan looking fella. He was lean and mean. The definition of it. He looked not to be trifled with. A street boy. A scrapper, survivalist. He did some shadowboxing, and you could tell by his technique and physique he was a seasoned kickboxer. Lots of boys from my hometown, Rotterdam, look just like the guy. So secretly I was rooting for him.
His opponent was a dark tank. A black man, seemingly solely made out of muscle. He was just a hulk. Wider than a closet, but not very tall. Maybe six something, barely. The Moroccan had length and reach going for him, lanky. But this man, I don’t know where he was from. He was a presence. A force of nature. Dark and doom inducing. He said he had no fight experience. Technically. He must’ve been some kind of brawler, as his face and eyes captured stories in their stoic expression. When you know you just know. And I could tell this man had done something, in regards to battle.
I sipped my drank, saw the two gentlemen get in the ring, and I hit the loo. Off to the right at back, beside the bar. Then I came back and the fight was already over.
The Moroccan had lost. The tank had run over him. The fight ended in fractions of seconds, Tiger said. It’d gone to the bathroom, and then back, and bam, fight over. Just like that. Tiger said the Moroccan used his finesse and skill and reach. Kept the tank at a distance, at bay. Checked. Straight kicks and jabs did the job. This went for a bit. Then the Tank flipped a switch. Went berserk.
Tank charged Moroccan, like a bull a matador. Moroccan could no longer keep him at bay. The jabs and kicks weren’t functioning as a proper cape anymore. The Tank saw red. And his flurry of savage haymakers were a hurricane. Moroccan had no chance. The storm of rotating fists and arms blew right through the Moroccan’s defense. He tried to block. But alas, the gale of strikes burst right through.
The Moroccan went knockout.
Ref called it. Fight was over. By the time I got back the Moroccan was sitting, on a chair, right in front of me, by the steps of the ring. Clutching his shoulder, and his team was standing around him. The light and shadows made the scene like a Caravaggio.
Tank was gone. Like a dark cowboy, riding into town. Dealing doom, and then riding off. Devastating. We continued to watch the aftermaths of the war which had been waged. The Moroccan tapped his shoulder, carefully like it was on fire, and his coach, a local Thai, had hold of his arm.
The Moroccan his shoulder was dislocated.
What a horror.
You could see it popped out. Fuck. Tiger looked away, and bystanders did the same. To my left sat some Swedes, smoking Marlboro. They couldn’t stand the sight either.
I didn’t flinch. I looked. Not for amusement of another man’s wounds of war. No. For study. For observation. I did it to get acquainted with violence. Being intimate with violence. Up close, nice and cozy. My shoulder never got popped out like that. I have been in the hospital. Seven stitches, two scars. I have a high pain tolerance. And any time something bad happens. Something horrible, and dangerous, and violent. I take a step forward. I look at it. Study it. Familiarize myself with it.
That could be me.
Funny thing, I was fighting that night. That could be me in just a few moments.
I’ll never forget this Moroccan. For me he was the victor of that bout. The Tank won the battle. But the Moroccan won the war. The coach tried to put the shoulder back in place. Didn’t take. He was jerking, and rotating, and shoving, and pushing. Didn’t take. And it showed on the poor fella’s face. He wanted to scream out. But didn’t. Any normal human being would’ve passed out already. But he didn’t. The coach got up. Tried it from a different angle, the side. Jerking, pushing, shoving. Massaging it in. Didn’t take. The Moroccan just shook his head. Mouthed inaudibles, and waving his other hand. It’s okay. Never mind. I can walk. Let’s go. Let’s get this take care of somewhere else.
The Moroccan taught me a valuable lesson.
Even when you lose you can be a champion.
Just look at the guy. His shoulder dislocated, and the coach trying to put it back but failing, and the guy doesn’t make a sound. He was clenching his teeth, grinding them, squinting away the pain, as if it was dust in the eyes. Blink and it’s gone. But only it wasn’t. And this study that I did, maybe sick for some, was absolutely necessary for me, to become more intimate with violence. What it can do, the doom it brings. The repercussions of slugging it out. Mind you, neither one was mortally harmed. The Moroccan will live. The Tank drones on.
It also learned me a lot about martial arts. One big takeaway here. Overwhelming force can annihilate the best technique. The Moroccan was a skilled fighter. Kickboxer. Some years in training, some fights had, pretty combat ready. Then this dark hurricane walks in. Blows him away. Poof. Just like that. Like it was nothing. And it was. It was nothing. Fight lasted shorter than a minute.
Tiger looked at me, as I was doing this study of violence.
He stood up.
‘Fury,’ he said. ‘Okay, I’m going in. It’s my turn.’
Tigher fights. He wins. He returns.
Tiger took of his helmet, in the corner. And was proud, and looked at me. His eyes still feral.
I said, ‘I’m going next.’
I have a special necklace and told Tiger to keep it safe. Then I stepped into the ring. Same ritual again. Ref grabs hand, holds it high, and you walk. But I didn’t have to walk laps and laps. Guys were dying to fight me.
Tiger muses on this, often, looking back at the moment. He says, Man, people were just dying to fight Fury. Me, no one wanted to fight me. I had to walk laps, before someone came. At least four people wanted to fight Fury.
The thing was even hulks wanted to fight me. There was this guy, six something, hundreds of pounds of muscles. Tiger merely smirked, and stood by the steps to the ring, and said nah man, that’s not fair, you’re nowhere near his weight class. I remember the hulk looking at me. Smiling. Confident. Brah, come on. I shrugged, and he shrugged. Next one up was a lanky dude. Kickboxer, by his musculature. Tiger said no. Too tall.
Finally this guy in a track suits comes up. Stands by the ring. Tiger asks him some questions. Can he fight? All that stuff. Tiger looks at me and nods. Guy’s okay. He steps in the ring. We shake hands. The guy was Russian. Blonde hair, ice white skin, mean mug. The works. I wasn’t afraid. And quite confident. I had been boozing all week, which dulls the senses. Even fear.
My brother had been training me. Which gave me competence and confidence. I was gonna be alright. Handling my bizz. I went to the same corner Tiger used, and put on trunks. Red Bull was emblazoned on them. Tiger smiled and so did I. Was meant to be.
I meditate on a scar, on my left forearm. I pointed at it, while looking at Tiger. I said this is the stab-scar. The crazy Mexican chick that stabbed me. It was a dull blade, and I survived. I always survive I said. I meditated on that.
I got in the ring and touched gloves with the Russian. He was taller than me and had the reach advantage. I didn’t care. I just didn’t care. There was this cocky Zen like vibe to me that night. I felt nothing.
I tried to claim the center. Then the Russian stuck out his left. He stood in orthodox position. Left forward, right back. He kept his lead hand out and forward, pawing my jabs, and distracting me, and feinting. It was annoying but not devastating. But his hands were heavy. This I could remember.
He threw a massive roundhouse kick, to the body. I blocked it with my left elbow. I thought the guy broke my arm. A surge of pain arose in my body. The whole fight I couldn’t raise that arm anymore. Not properly anyway. For weeks actually. The fucker got me so good, I felt it long after the fight. It was black and blue.
So that kick got me good. Now I was feeling something. Fear jumped in too. I think this messed with me a bit. The Russian felt it. And he was rushing me. He basically had three moves. A right hook, a right kick, and a jab. That’s it. Just those goddamn three moves. But Tiger claimed he was a higher weight class. Whatever. Excuses.
Thing is his hands and kicks were heavy.
He shot out a front kick. I tried to parry it, but it made me back up. All his strikes did. Pretty soon, he’d taken over the center of the ring, sensed my fear, and continued to spam me with the three moves. Right hook, right roundhouse kick, jab. The jab was getting more annoying, and I couldn’t get through his guard.
He threw one right hook but I was slow. He wasn’t even fast, but my reflexes had been dulled by all the boozing. The bender had lasted a whole damn week, and I thought it was a bright idea, to step into the ring. Mind you, I also hadn’t slept well. Maybe between fifteen and twenty hours, cumulatively over the days. So yeah, not making excuses, but these two factors weighed heavily in the fight.
Every move he made. Too late. Too slow. He clipped me with a right hook, which flung me back. My guard wasn’t sturdy and I was getting slaughtered. I tried to throw in some feints, and go for the counter. It was my only option. Tiger was no help and maybe shouted something but I couldn’t hear him. Like I said earlier. Corner man advice is almost useless. I tried to push forward, but he backed me up. My left arm still hurt.
There is this annoying trance like Muay Thai music constantly humming in the air. I remember it like a mosquito, nagging. It made the beating more surreal somehow. As if it wasn’t me. The haze of all the past alcohol helped too. But I can tell you this. I was getting hit. It hurt and at one point I went down.
The Russian kept coming after me, and hit me while I was down. That made me pissed. Unfair. Fucking hell. Fights are always unfair. Ref got in between. But the hits that got me while I was down carried over till the end of the fight.
Round was over. I went back to the corner, and Tiger said jack shit. Nothing consoling, nothing wise. In my opinion, nothing that I didn’t already know. It didn’t look good.
Tiger said, ‘The guy’s sloppy, just go for the counter.’
I nodded and said nothing. The damage was present, and I was trying to deal with the white hot pain. Getting hit feels worse than smashing buckets of vodka. I can tell you this. But also, it’s not that bad, you know. It’s just physical pain. There are worse things in life than physical pain. I can name at least three things. If you can’t, then you haven’t really lived. This revelation I made long ago enables me to endure all kinds of physical hardships. Made me run two marathons. Gives me an almost superhuman alcohol tolerance. Ability to go without sleep, for long periods of time. Those last two got me in trouble though. It was because of those two things I was fucked. I knew I had to turn the tables.
I tried to claim the center again. Tried. I failed and got overwhelmed again. Seriously the Russian just felt my fear, and anxiety, and insecurity in the fight. I’d seen him talk with his cornerman, read his body language. I couldn’t understand Russian. But their bodies said enough. It was a done deal. You got ‘em. Take care of him. He’s finished.
Usually, those things don’t scare me. But the hits were beating the living fear into me. I backed down. I did tightened my guard, though. Mike Tyson style, peek-a-boo. I tried to turtle it out. Wait for my perfect moment, and counter.
Didn’t take. The Russian his three moves were simply too powerful, my reflexes were shot, and the damage from the first round didn’t help.
I went down again.
I got up easily again. The pain was immense, and I focused on it, meditated on it, and channeled it, into a single spot. I see the pain as a white hot dot. I see it. Control it. Deal with it. I see the pain as a white ball you squeeze with both your hands. You stifle it. And it’s gone. That’s how I deal with it. This may sound vague, and maybe bullshit. But this is in fact an attempt, to try to explain how I have a massive tolerance for pain.
I said to the ref, ‘Give me the count.’
He said some Thai shit back.
I said, ‘Fucker give me the eight count. Let me rest up.’
Fucker didn’t understand and let me fight again. And not a moment was the ref gone, before the Russian came flying in.
I can’t even remember if there was a third round, or if it ended right there in the second. Some form of amnesia, due to damage. The Russian just went ham on me. I couldn’t sway, dodge, duck or dip any of the blows. They caught my turtle guard, but they all blew it wide open. And I went down for the final time. I remember the moment clearly.
I got up again. Easily. The pain was getting worse. The white hot dot in my mind was getting bigger and bigger. It was like the sun. Burning my brain.
The ref came. He waved his hands. Fight was over.
I was pissed. I fought. I lost.
They gave me some bullshit consolation price. This bullshit participation medal. I hate that shit. I’ll tell my kids all about how life does not reward losses. Participation is not the victory. Sure, I survived. I always survive. But the beatdown was utterly humiliating and enraging. I not only let myself down. But also my brother. His art. His techniques. A piece of me died that day. I remember the date, sixteenth of February 2019. It was a Saturday. A day I’ll never forget. My first fight. My first loss. I ponder it often, when I need to get pissed off. When I need to remind myself of all the monsters out there. That can take anything and everything from you. All the things you worked so hard on. Bam. Just like that. In a blink of an eye someone can come along and beat the holy crap out of you and take that away. Your whole life’s work. Your life. Just like that. Along comes a demon and he slaughters you and you can’t do nothing bout it. Fuck.
The other part of the bullshit consolation price was a bucket of sangsom. The Thai stuff I’ve been talking about. It drank away nicely, and nurtured the headaches away. I was done with the place, and the two groupies were gone, the two girls who were supposedly there to cheer us on. I didn’t care. The two Belgiums who came to cheer me on. I didn’t say goodbye. I was done with the place. Didn’t care. I grabbed my bucket.
Said to Tiger, ‘Necklace.’
He gave me back my necklace. I put that thing own like it was the only thing in the world I cared about. It symbolizes a place, and home, I care about. A person.
Tiger saw the state I was in, and didn’t say much. He just said the basic platitude bullshit. My respect for you has grown, Fury. Very brave, man. Good job. I’m proud of you.
At the table where we drank the buckets, some Swedes had been cheering us on. First the Tiger fight, and then me. They were smokers. Marlboro packets were laying around. I snatched a few and left the Reggae bar, with a bucket of sangsom in my hand, and this cheap golden medal dangling around my neck.
Edited the story for clarity, but kept it in its raw and honest form. Guess you can understood part of where the name Fury comes from and how this is yet another cornerstone in the Legend of The Fury.
I felt good, my ego alit, when my cousin brought it up during dinner. And this is how much masculine stories matter. As a man you must go out there in the f wilderness, do crazy shit, survive, and bring the story back home. Back to the cave. This is the first, and perhaps only story in existence. The cave, the people left behind in the cave, the men going out of it and hunting and killing and denting reality and forging legends, coming home to the cave and telling it.
People need this. Men need this. Especially young men. Boys need this. Posterity needs this.
The people need you, and your capacity to make it happen, to make stories happen. Outlive that shit, and live to tell the tale yourself.
The other dinner companion addresses my cousin, they went to Thailand together, and he says, Yo Tell em about ascending that Volcano in Bali and all that ash along the trail!
Cousin tells the story, fast, couple phrases.
I connect with it, by saying, Yeah I know how you feel. I climbed this mountain in Norway.
And another story began…
The Fury will RETURN!
If you enjoyed the above excerpt, check out the full book LLT; also in doing so you support the HOOA clan. Also check out the IG post, corresponding to the Thai Fight.