Is this the most outrageous travel activity in the world?
19 February 2014
TRAVELLERS to Thailand are participating in furious kickboxing matches with Thai prisoners, who could be in jail for everything from theft to attempted murder.
SEVERAL times a year tourists are invited to box with Thai prisoners. Sound weird already?
That’s because it is. Prison Fight is a charity Muay Thai (a type of combat sport from the muay martial arts of Thailand) kickboxing event that takes place in different prisons of Thailand. The ultimate aim is to promote the sport among prisoners and to help them with better social adaptation in the future.
So what about the non-prisoners? This Coconuts TV segment takes a look into this really strange ‘tourist attraction’ — that is, foreign visitors coming specifically to Thailand to fight in a prison.
Why? Most are semi-professional kickboxers at the start of their kickboxing career and they see this move as a way to progress their career. “How many people can say they’ve fought in a real life Thai prison?” says foreign fighter Curt Robinson during the segment.News_Image_File: An inmate and foreign boxer pose together before a fight. Picture: Supplied
The thing is the inmates are in jail for all kinds of crimes, ranging from petty theft to attempted murder, and most spend their prison days training ... training to kickbox. Many have been practising Muay Thai since their childhood.
To make things even more … err … interesting the Thai prisoners get their sentence reduced if they win. They fight hard because they are fighting for their freedom.
If a foreigner wins he gets … to say he’s won a fight in a real Thai prison.
Prison Fight is not new. In fact, the tradition of holding kickboxing tournaments in prisons started in 1767 when after the downfall of Ayutaya thousands of Thai soldiers were taken prisoner
The brave foreign kickboxers who choose to go in are enticed by the ability to see what a Thai prison is really like inside … and epic bragging rights if they win a fight of course. This is something that most people will never get to do. Most will train hard and go in prepared. These kickboxers are there to not only see a Thai prison, they are there to also live out their wildest combat fantasies.
The matches are well organised with plenty of media and spectators (prison mates who have been behaving well are allowed to come along and watch). What happens on the ring is not so organised — sometimes the matches are fair, and sometimes there is a clear winner from the very start.News_Image_File: A prisoner celebrates his win ... and a reduced sentence. Picture: Supplied
The charity kickboxing events are organised with the assistance of Department of Corrections and the matches and preparation for the matches is seen to benefit the inmates by providing them with a goal, with sporting equipment and motivating them to fight well to cut time off their sentence.
Not everyone agrees it’s beneficial for everyone. Some say it seems strange that prisoners are being hardened up and rewarded for a violent activity which may have been the very reason they were sent to prison.
As for the travellers coming to partake in this rather unusual activity ... well it’s up to them as to how they see it benefiting them.