PNG Muay Thai fighter earns ‘mong kon’

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AFTER three years fighting as a professional Muay Thai fighter in Australia, Lee Garap has earned his “mong kon”, a special head band that fighters wear to the ring as pre-match ritual.
It is sold in shops in modern countries but fighters do not buy them for decoration; it is earned through their effort in training and competition.
It is given to them by a Thai master or trainer to his student and for Garap, it was given to him by his trainer World Champion, Bruce “The Preacher” McFee.
The mong kon is part of Muay Thai tradition which originated in Thailand centuries ago.
When Garap returns to Australia next week, he will learn the ‘Wai kru ram muay’ which is a dance performed by fighters before every fight.
Fighters wear the mong kon while they perform the wai kru.
“It is exciting for me as I learn more of the Muay Thai culture, not just as a way of fighting but as an art and a culture from Thailand.
“I look forward to it and I am also thankful for the recognition from my trainer and gym through this,” Garap said.
He returned to Port Moresby last Monday after a boxing match in Queensland.
Garap was supposed to fight in Muay Thai’s biggest show, “evolution” but missed out due to confusion and technical errors by the organisers.
He was supplied information that he would be fighting in the 66kg.
 However, the organisers told his opponent that he was going to fight in the 63kg division.
Garap prepared well for the fight and bulked up to meet the weight requirement only to be disappointed that their weights did not match.
“If it were just one or two kilograms difference than I would have worked on shedding it overnight and fight the next day but it was too much and I would be weak if I did that with this weight,” Garap said.
This is the second time he has missed fighting in the evolution.
A similar situation occurred last year when he was in Port Moresby but could not travel because his visa was not processed on time.
“It is very disappointing. I will keep trying to make it into this event and I will keep training and fighting hard for it,” he said.
Garap will return to Australia for further matches.
He also be part of the Australia team to Singapore.
His major sponsor Coral Sea Golf is covering his expenses while Life Gym is assisting him with training and preparations.
“I am very privileged and grateful to have the support of these sponsors as well as other families, friends and others who have helped me in one way or another.”