Esquire – Ready to Rumble

Watching prisoner practise their Muay

Thai skills in a makeshift boxing arena inside

Bangkok’s notorious high-security Klong Prem

prison is a spectacle to behold. Moo, a convicted

drug runner, and Pod, a debt collector in the Thai

capital’s notorious Nana Plaza red-light district,

who is serving a life sentence for murder, were

relaxed and humorous a few minutes ago when

we spoke to them ringside. Now they burn with

intensity—their hooded eyes fixed on their sparring

partners, as they rain vicious blows with feet,

knees and fists upon the bag.

“Most of them will be here until their hair

grows grey,” says Surawuth Rungrueng, the guard

largely responsible for encouraging the development

of boxing in Klong Prem. “Muay Thai and

the respect it affords them is one of the things they

can hold onto.”

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