SONGKRAN 2010

Thai Town USA, Hollywood April - 4

I will fight. This blog will serve to track my progress. I'll chronicle my numerous external injuries along the way. The trials and tribulations that some of the most grueling training on earth has to offer. My battles with my own personal demons. I'll try to post a pic or two every so often. All the way up to my fight. The Thai New Year Festival in the streets of Hollywood will serve as my proving ground. Click on the link above for more info about the event.

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The Day.

Posted by Diem Studios On Sunday, April 18, 2010
It’s taken me two weeks to write this long overdue entry.
My face is broken out and looking chubby due to the excess of treats and bad food I’ve been partaking in.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about the future and what’s next.
That’s probably the hardest part of achieving a massive goal: What’s next?
What happens now?


Let’s go back.
It’s Easter Sunday.
I arise at dawn without the assistance of an alarm clock of any kind.
It may as well be Christmas morning.
Years of blood and sweat and pain and sacrifice are to be made worthwhile.
The loss of love and friends and time, given value.
My body feels razor sharp.
Every limb is light as a feather but solid as lead.
I feel the best I ever have.

I’m underweight again according to my scale.
The one issue leading up to the fight rears it’s ugly head at zero hour.
I need to gain five pounds in roughly three hours.
This would normally stress me out.
I would normally be daunted by the suggestion of gaining such a large amount of weight.
Not on this day.
I’ve done my homework.
I’ve studied my body.
I know the proper equation of food and liquid necessary to gain the five necessary pounds.
I’m calm.

I spend a few moments by the window.
The musical selection is soothing; it’s not yet time to elevate my level of intensity.
I will know soon how nervous I’m going to be.
It’s cold out.
It is still dark and the sun is attempting to trespass on the steel blue sky.
The breeze blows steady.
I listen to the sounds of songbirds coaxing the day to life.
I listen to the calming tracks from my speakers.
I listen to my own breath.
It is steady and fixed.
I am ready.

I eat two large sandwiches and two bananas and enjoy my cup of coffee.
It’s hard to get all of the food down.
I’m not hungry but I understand the necessity.
It’s a challenge to drink enough milk.
I don’t want it and I’m not thirsty, but I know I need it.
I pack a third sandwich and check my bag for the  tenth time.
I am ready.

The drive to Ryan and Evan’s new house is calm.
This is early morning beach weather.
The tracks I’ve chosen weeks ago are still on the calmer side but they’re picking up.
Upon arriving there is a buzz in the house.
Ryan is jittery and his energy is elevated to levels never before seen in this early of an hour in the morning.
The rest of the group is excited.
They want to know things.
They want to know where my head is at.
I am a million miles from here.
After getting things settled we’re off.
I can’t wait to get my headphones on, it is time for the next level.

We’re slightly late and it nips at my nerves ever so slightly.
I quell the anxiety with another sandwich and a Gatorade.
I’m not hungry and I’m not thirsty, but I know they will get me closer.

We arrive at the event to all of the early morning chaos I expected.
I’m the first fighter from my gym there and the only one on-time.
There is yelling and frantic activity.
Nothing is set up and I’m not surprised.
I’m still a million miles away.
I check my breathing and I’m still calm.
Ryan looks like he’s going to have a burst of excited activity at any given moment.
He is my best friend and he has been waiting for this forever and he can’t wait.
He is the personification of loyalty and he can’t possibly contain himself.

Things get bad quickly.
Fighter’s meeting number one does not yield a positive message.
Myself and one other fighter are the only fighters out of six from my gym that are present, even though the meeting is 45 minutes late.
The message is simple and frustrating.
The Commissioner's Office decided on a rule change two nights ago and told no one.
Instead of 21 fights, there would now be 12.
All of my composure and calm goes out of the window faster than I could imagine.
I am instantly ragged.
Not again.
Please God not again.
I repeat.
Over and over.
I am in utter disbelief.
This is not happening to me again.
For a fraction of a second I am relieved.
When that moment of doubt ends I am incensed with myself for such a thought.
It never enters my mind again.
Ryan is there.
He is keeping me calm.
He is looking me in the eyes.
He is just as upset as me but he is not showing any other emotion than confidence.

I am still a mess.
The officials will be choosing fights from a hat.
Three years of training.
Three months of intensity and sacrifice and pain.
It all comes down to a scribbled number in a hat.
My team mate is furious.
He doesn’t want to be there.
I beg him to witness the drawing.
They tell us that if your opponent isn’t present at this point, you will be put on a reserve list and most likely won’t be fighting.
They tell us if your number isn’t drawn, you won’t be fighting.
They tell us if you both don’t make weight, you won’t be fighting.
I am now officially a basket-case.
I’m pretty sure I’m shaking, but it’s cold and I tell myself it’s the nipping wind.
Name after name is called.
Disappointment after disappointment.
Most of my teammates aren’t there and all of their names get called.
Their opponents are devastated.
I am devastated.
I am counting.
8th fight match... 9th fight match... Tenth... Evelenth...
My shoulders slump.
That’s not my name either.
Then I realize there are a set of hands on my shoulders shaking me violently and with great excitement.
I know that grip.
Those are Ryan’s hands.
He pulls me in and hugs me.
My name has been called.

The next two hours are pure frustration and boredom.
There are papers to be filled out.
The officials treat you with a kind of sub-human disgust.
Your questions are answered with disrespect and foul tones.
My medical examination is a joke.
Then the moment of truth.
159.4 pounds.
I am nearly perfect.

Things blur.
It’s a whirling mess of saying hello to family and friends while trying to regain my composure.
My Dad is a wreck.
He’s like a puppy.
He wants to be everywhere I am.
He is nervous and I need to not be near his unsteady nerves.
I am back in my zone.
I am completely relaxed.
They keep giving me different stories.
You’re fighting last, you’re fighting first, repeat.
More blurs.
I am getting my hands wrapped.
I am laughing and I am mellow.
I crack jokes.
I listen to my predetermined mix of songs.
It is extremely cold and I fight off shivers.
My trainer hasn’t said much to me yet.
I am told to shadowbox in a dirty parking lot with very limited space.
I am cold.
They put the gloves on my hands.
They are the lightest boxing gloves that have ever graced my hands.
The tag tells me they weigh 10 ounces, but I laugh at this notion.
My corner men are asking me if I’m ready.
I believe they are trying to gauge my level of nervousness, which is nearly zero.
My corner man Omar is spewing obscenities, as is his Queens Bridge way.
Something about hitting him so hard he dies.
I am still very cold.
Before I know what is happening, a man is screaming my name and he’s telling me we are late and need to go NOW.
I don’t like him yelling at me.
My trainer tells me we won’t know how my opponent fights until the second round.
He says something about staying calm and being first.
I understand him but I am now acutely aware at just how cold I am.

I watch the logo on my trainers back the hundred yards or so to the ring.

The crowd parts for us.
I feel the eyes of the people as we pass.
I hear a child say, “MOMMY! Why is that man not wearing a shirt?”
And her mother reply, “’Cause he’s going to fight. See his boxing gloves?”
For the first time of the day, I receive a rush of adrenaline accompanied with a hot flash of fear.
I stifle it.

Someone pats me on the shoulder and says something to me, but I don't understand it.
Everything is in slow motion.
Individual words run together into one monotone, muffled wall of sound.
I count the loose threads on the logo on my trainer's back.
There are 17.
I understand that this means I am not nervous and therefor capable of focusing on a task.

As we approach the ring the crowd absolutely erupts.
I can pick out the voices of my best friend and my sister and my mom and my step-dad and Stephanie and everyone there to see me fight.
It is so much louder than I had imagine.
I wai to the ring and they grow louder.
I climb in and wai to all four sides and each side explodes with applause.
When I approach my corner my trainer tells me to focus on my Wai Kru.
I comprehend this.
I do my Wai Kru and I feel right.
It comes out sweeping and deliberate and I like the thought of doing it in front of hundreds.
Sharing my art, my style.

I feel completely honored for a split second.
Realizing the gravity of performing this at Songkran in the streets of Hollywood in front of hundreds.
I stifle this notion as well.
It isn't difficult.
I am only the motions of my Wai Kru.
I come to the side where most of my family and friends are and I nod my head with fervor in recognition of them.

I've had this planned for months.
Once again they go insane with glee.

My small gesture did not go unnoticed by my supporters.

I can’t hear anything now.
It is incomprehensibly loud.
My trainer says a prayer and removes my Mongkol.
He says something about being first and kicking the leg.

It makes sense to me.

I am extremely calm.

I pray to my corner.
I thank my God for this moment.
I thank my God for giving me the strength to get here.
I thank my God for my family and friends.
I ask him to "keep my eyes safe and my head straight."
I ask him to tell my grandpa I did it.
I cross myself and touch my forehead and point to the sky.
I'm hoping my "Papa" can see this.
My crowd bursts forth once again.
I stretch my back on the ropes and check my breathing.
I am still calm.
This is my moment.

-Drew

1 Response to "The Day."

  1. Stephanie Said,

    Best entry yet. I can't say much more than this brought tears to my eyes, and to thank you for letting me relive that day through yours. I love you and am so proud of you, always! Keep 'em coming, DiryBird! xxoxo

     

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