November 8, 2011

Happy Tues. +2 degrees here. We got dusty snow yesterday, a little bit at a time.

Yokelly, we watched a movie called “Beautiful Boxer” that I bet you have not seen. It is based on the true story of Nong Thoom, the Thai kick-boxing champion who retired with his earnings and got a sex change operation. As the actor who played the coach said in the extra features, “I’ve been in 400 films, and usually the stories are very repetitive, but this one is different.” I’ll say. Nong Thoom discovered very early in life that he wanted to be a girl. His family was very poor, so he worked odd jobs to help them. He saw some boys practicing Muay Thai, the traditional Thai martial art, and decided he was interested. When he showed up at the training camp, the instructor had him kick the bag. Something in the way he kicked (as the Beatles sang) caused the coach to see promise in him. We are treated to quite a bit of Muay Thai training (“Everybody down for 300 sit-ups!”) and eventually we see Nong Thoom fighting in the ring. The actor who plays this role had trained as a kick-boxer and had fought in over a hundred matches. There are lots of young guys who want to be famous as kick-boxers, according to this film, and unwittingly Nong Thoom had a gimmick to get noticed: he started wearing makeup into the ring. In the story line, inevitably those who called him a sissy were knocked out.

As his fame grew, Nong was eventually invited to fight at the Lumpini stadium in Bangkok, where his manager encouraged him to publicize his feminine side by getting facials, etc. He wins the fight and goes on to make a bundle fighting the best female Japanese wrestler in the central stadium in Tokyo. The same wrestler plays herself in the film. The actor who plays Nong Thoom said he was bruised all over from filming that match, which included the 220 pound wrestler jumping on him from above. Anyway, this is not your usual movie fare, but we found it interesting and enjoyable, even though the story line and editing are occasionally melodramatic. Martial arts fans will like some of the fight scenes, which were done by professional fighters (though choreographed so the lead actor eventually wins each bout).

Sez Wikipedia,

Parinya Kiatbusaba or Parinya Jaroenphon (born June 9, 1981), more popularly known as Nong Thoom, Nong Toom or Nong Tum (Thai: น้องตุ้ม ปริญญา เจริญผล), is arguably the best-known kathoey in Thailand. She is a former Muay Thai (Thai boxing) champion and has also worked as a model and actress.

Her public life began in February 1998, with a victory in Bangkok‘s Lumpini Boxing Stadium, the center of the Muay Thai world. The Thai media were understandably intrigued by the novelty and incongruity of a make-up wearing 16-year-old kathoey, or “lady boy“, defeating and then kissing a larger, more muscular opponent.

Although the Thai government had previously blocked kathoey athletes from participating in the national volleyball team for fear of negative reaction from the rest of the world, the Muay Thai establishment embraced Nong Toom, and tourism officials promoted her as “indicative of the wonders to be found” in Thailand. Perhaps not coincidentally, Muay Thai had been in a several-year slump at the time, and Nong Toom had greatly revitalized both media and public interest in the sport, as shown by increased ticket sales and stadium revenue.

She was profiled in several magazines, and appeared in many Thai music videos. Subsequently, her public profile began to fade, but her bouts with a foreigner, as well as her trip to Japan to fight a Japanese challenger, kept her face in the news. By fall of 1998, there was little coverage of Nong Toom to be found in either the mainstream or boxing media.

In 1999, Nong Toom caused considerable publicity by announcing her retirement from kick boxing, her intention to become a singer, and her plan to undergo sex reassignment surgery. She was initially turned down by some of the Bangkok surgeons she turned to, but was able to undergo the sex-change surgery in 1999 at Yanhee International Hospital.

On February 26, 2006, Nong Tum made a comeback as boxer. She fought an exhibition match for Fairtex Gym’s new Pattaya branch, re-dubbed Nong Toom Fairtex Gym, by fighting a 140-pound contest against Japan‘s Kenshiro Lookchaomaekhemthong. Nong Toom won by unanimous decision after the three-round fight, leaving her rival with a cut near his eye from an elbow in the last round.

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