By Jonny Betts
(Lumpinee Stadium veteran, Tiger Muay Thai sponsored fighter).
The province of Kelantan in Malaysia produces the best Muay Thai (or “tomoi”, the Malay name for the fighting art) fighters in the country. The area borders the Thai province of Narathiwat, and Kelantan fighters regularly venture over the border to fight with Thai Nak Muay in Southern Thailand.
Last weekend a team of fighters from Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand went to Kelantan to compete against some of the best Malaysian fighters. South African rising star Marcel Gaines took on Mat Ropi. Ropi is one of the “superstars” of tomoi, the top ranked fighter in Malaysia at 60kg who has had around 200 fights (and is also a very popular pop singer). The two fought before in December last year, in a fight which Ropi won by close decision. The rematch took place in Gua Musang, Kelantan where they have some special rules. For religious reasons all fighters have to wear tights underneath their boxing shorts to cover their upper legs. Another special rule is that their are no judges…if the fight goes the distance it automatically gets called a draw. Apparently in the past there had been big problems with violence between fans who disagreed with judges decisions, so the government decided to remove judges completely meaning that the only way to win is by KO or TKO.
Looking to avenge his first ever loss, Marcel trained like a beast for this rematch. Ropi was fighting in his hometown so also had extra motivation. Check out the very exciting fight that resulted between these two