Pope Francis concludes Asia trip
Thai convicts given chance to fight their way out of jail
Sentences can be reduced for winning tournament
Picture: Coconuts Bangkok
- Alexander Hotz for Coconuts Bangkok
- October 10, 2013
Last Friday, Bangkok’s Klong Prem Prison opened its doors for arguably the strangest fighting event in all of Asia, if not the world.
Thai prisoners, many of them hardened by years of incarceration, were pitted against free foreign fighters in both Muay Thai and traditional boxing bouts. Both sides were competing for a little cash, but the Thai prisoners were also fighting for their lives, literally.
Prisoners who win a championship and thereby bring glory to the prison have a realistic shot at having their sentences commuted. The organizer said this goes for any prisoner regardless of the magnitude of their crime, but he was also quick to point out that prisoners are judged from a holistic perspective that incorporates their behavior outside of the ring. That said, it doesn’t diminish the gravity of what’s at stake.
The event itself was nothing if not utterly surreal. Held in one of the prison’s courtyards, the fighting took place in a traditional elevated ring situated under a tin roof. In the battered bleachers sat a couple hundred prisoners. Boisterous and chummy, they were in good humor despite the brutal heat. The best seats, close to the ring and out of the sun, were reserved for the wardens, senior officials and doe-eyed press. A luk thung band provided the music and three dolled up ladyboy prisoners reveled in their role as ring girls.
Source: Coconuts Bangkok