CRACK! A knee to the chin and blue trunks is out cold. Red trunks is held back by the ref, bursting at the seams with aggression. Another ref comes in to hold him back. Red eventually calms, pounds his chest, and howls. The crowd howls back.
We’re at the Muay Thai Grand Prix in Bangkok, Thailand. The air is filled with cheering and shouting and cigarette smoke. Thousands of fans fill the stands as they guzzle down cans of Singha. A veteran fighter just cracked his head against the canvas. The winner of the bout, Mar Ray, is a young and hungry fighter whose undefeated record remains unblemished. He’s about six feet tall and weighs exactly one hundred and seventy pounds. Not much is known about Mar Ray, except for that he has killed his last three opponents in the ring using his signature deadly flying knee. Mar Ray translates to Quick Devil in Thai.
Several fights go by, and with each one the crowd grows more and more excited. The final fight of the night, Bout 9, is a highly anticipated match up between Mar Ray and his former training partner, rival, and brother, Dek Di. Dek Di is the reigning champion of Grand Prix.
The crowd hushes as the lights dim. The mic floats down to the announcer. “Ladies and Gentleman, we now have the main event of the evening!” The fans roar with applause.“ In the red corner, at six feet tall, and one hundred and seventy pounds, Marrrr… Quick Devil…. Rayyyyyyy!” Mar walks into the ring glowing with energy and confidence. He looks fresh, as if he hadn’t even fought earlier that day. He lifts his red gloves in the air and the crowd cheers for him.
“And in the blue corner, at six feet two inches, and one hundred and seventy pounds… Dek… The Champion… Diiiiiiii!” The crowd jumps to its feet as the spotlight points to an empty entranceway. No movement for a few minutes, and then the tournament officials cluster together. After a few minutes of whispering and nodding they disperse as the announcer grabs the mic again.
“Unfortunately Dek Di will not be fighting today, as it has come to our attention that he has been poisoned. We regret to inform you that Dek Di has been rushed to the hospital and is in critical condition.” The crowd shouts curses in disbelief. The announcer continues, “It is Grand Prix rules that if the champion fails to show up, no matter what the circumstances, the contender automatically wins and takes his position as the new World Champion!” Mar Ray lifts his gloves again in victory. The crowd boos in disgust and disappointment.
“...Unless,” the announcer goes on, “there is anyone is the arena that will take up the challenge and fight him.”
The shouting stops abruptly and the crowd goes silent, blood from Mar Ray’s last victim still dripping from the ropes. An audible “gulp” is heard from the audience.
Mar Ray grins a devilish grin as the announcer begins to hand him the championship belt. “If there are any challengers in the arena, please present yourselves now!”
Silence. Mar Ray smacks a beautiful ring girl on the ass as she walks by, knocking her to the floor. She gets up and turns around angrily, but then quickly leaves the ring in fear. Mar Ray continues to stare at her, licking his lips.
“Going once, going twice… Alright, put your hands together for a new Grand Prix Wor-”
“I’ll give it a shot.”
The voice is heard in the crowd and the audience gasps in surprise. Mar Ray’s smile fades. The announcer, also surprised, looks out in the crowd. “Who said that? Who is our challenger?”
FLICK! His question is answered by the sound and light of a Zippo lighter. The light illuminates the face of Paul Choe. He lights his cigarette, takes a long drag, and says in a deep gravelly voice:
The crowd gasps again, and the murmurs and whispering build as they’re wondering who this mysterious man is. Paul is about five feet seven inches tall and weighs one hundred and seventy pounds. He’s wearing dark sunglasses and a baseball cap. A dark bristly beard frames his face. Mar Ray looks at Paul, and then laughs. “You think you stand a chance against me? This must be a joke. I beat the best fighters in the world. I am a murderer, and you will not be the first man I have killed tonight. I am the World Cham-”
“No, not yet you’re not,” says Paul nonchalantly. The crowd laughs.
Pure anger surges through Mar. “Wasting my time. Come and get it then, and prepare for death.”
Paul stands up with confidence. As he begins to walk toward the ring, a hand reaches out and grabs his arm. He stops, and sighs. The hand belongs to Alex, Paul’s girlfriend. Alex is a small, pretty girl with big brown eyes and pouty lips. She grew up in Bangkok and is no stranger to the destruction caused by elite Thai fighters.
“Please,” begs Alex, “No more fighting. No more fighting.” She looks at him with her big, baleful eyes. Paul stares back, beginning to reconsider.
“Yes,” exclaims Mar Ray. “Listen to your bitch ass slut girlfriend. And give her to me so she can get this big ol' nasty red dick.” Paul’s eyes narrow. He takes his glasses off and turns toward the ring. The crowd laughs with Mar Ray. Mar Ray is laughing so hard he’s tearing up. He wipes away the tears. When he opens his eyes, Paul Choe is standing in the ring already wearing the blue shorts and blue gloves.
“The fuck?” says Mar Ray.
Paul takes off his cap to reveal a shiny shaved head. The crowds goes “Ohhhh” in surprise. “Last time,” Paul mutters to himself.
The announcer walks to the middle of the ring and the mic meets him there. “Ladies and Gentleman, we have your final bout of the evening. Your new main event: Mar Ray versus Paul Choe...FIGHT!”
The crowd erupts as Mar Ray closes the distance in the blink of an eye. Mar then begins to deliver a flurry of punches and kicks. Jab-cross to the head, hooks to the body, leg kicks, uppercuts to the head. All the while, Paul only has his guard up to absorb each devastating blow.
With more than three minutes left in the five minute round, Mar continues to tee off with Paul Choe’s back against the ropes. The speed of Mar’s combinations make the onslaught appear to be a cloud of punches and kicks and knees. Now blood begins to spray onto the canvas floor, and then onto the crowd. Drunk and horny for action, the crowd cheers on the violent massacre.
Alex looks on mournfully but without surprise. An older man in a cowboy hat sitting next to Alex detects her apprehension. “That your man, ain’t he?” Alex nods, and the old man shakes his head. “If he ain't no good at fightin’, he should’ve stayed his ass in his seat. I’ve lost my grandson to this devil. I might as well say it now I guess cuz it ain’t gonna get no easier I tell ya.” He sighs. “I am truly sorry for your loss.”
Alex shakes her head. A tear rolling down her face. “It’s not that,” she says mumbles.
“Huh?” says the old man, puzzled.
Back in the ring, the flurry continues. Mar Ray is firing off elbow after punch after body kick. He smirks as he throws strikes with the thought of already having won the championship and also getting to beat some ass. He’s having his cake and getting to eat it too. Paul continues to stand firm in a defensive stance with no offensive movement at all. The strikes landed count is already 546 for Mar and zero for Paul.
A doctor and a stretcher are called on and they take their place next to the ring, ready to administer care to Paul as soon as the bell rings.
In the audience, the cheers die down as the idea of watching the massacre goes from exciting to perverse. A mother in the audience covers her young child’s eyes. The only audible sounds in the arena now are the Mar Ray’s breathing and Mar Ray’s strikes landing on Paul.
Sixty seconds left in round one. Mar Ray throws a heavy right cross to the head and another heavy right cross to the head. Paul bounces off the ropes and stumbles forward. Mar teeps Paul back into the corner. Mar pivots, and with all his might, throws a haymaker to the head. Mar steps back and spits on him. Paul crumbles to a knee.
The doctor leaves and a priest replaces him next to the ring, ready to deliver last rites as soon as the bell rings.
Thirty seconds left. Mar begins to celebrate. The crowd is silent. The old man says to Alex, “What do you mean?”
Paul lifts his head slightly. He’s sobbing hard.
“AHAHAHA, the loser is crying, what a little bitch! I’m gonna fuck your girl you cuck,” yells Mar Ray. He makes eye contact with Alex while humping the air. Alex looks back at Mar Ray, fighting back her tears. She turns to the old man with her head in her arms and her legs crossed, trying to keep her composure while visibly shaking. “It’s not Paul that I’m worried about...” she begins to explain.
Fifteen seconds left. Mar Ray continues to laugh and celebrate. Paul cuts him off by standing up.
“I am crying,” says Paul as he wipes his face with his glove. “I am crying because I am tired of killing people, and now I must kill you.”
The crowd gasps. The announcer gasps. The child gasps. The old man farts.
Alex turns to the old man. “I’m worried for whoever he fights. Paul is too powerful. Sometimes he cannot control his power.” BRAPPP! The old man shits his pants from shock.
Five seconds left. Mar Ray is red with anger. With all his might he throws his infamous flying knee, the one that has killed many before. It lands, but contact with Paul’s chin causes Mar Ray’s knee to burst and open up, exposing the bone from the upper thigh to the shin. Blood everywhere. Mar falls back against the ropes in agony and notices that Paul is completely unscathed, and all the blood in the ring is from Mar’s own knuckles and feet and elbows and knees.
Mar Ray is hunched over with his back against the ropes and his eyes wide with fear now. Paul steps in front of him, smirks, gets on one knee, and plunges his shiny head upward into Mar Ray’s chest. Paul’s head goes right through Mar Ray’s chest, coming out the other side.
The crowd goes silent. The old man pukes on his shoes.
“Not again,” mutters Alex.
Paul pulls his head out of Mar Ray’s torso. Mar Ray falls to the floor, dead. The bell rings.
In the silent crowd, the old man starts to clap. The little boy claps. His mom claps. The announcer claps. The priest claps. The doctor claps. A couple more people join in, shaken and bewildered at what they have just witnessed. Soon the entire arena is on their feet cheering for the new Muay Thai Grand Prix Champion, Paul Choe.