Even Pak Zawi didn't know about the popularity of Tomoi in Kelantan. The sport is so popular that the organizers did not have to splash so much money on publicity to ensure that the hall of Dewan Jubilee Perak Kota Bharu will be filled to capacity when the event was held from 17 - 18 November 2008. All they had to do was to put up several banners and vertical banners at strategic places in Kota Bharu and leave the rest to all the district Tomoi Associations to spread the word around to bring in the crowd.
Thanks to Kbguy of Sri Kebakat or Just Me, U and Us to keep me informed when such an important event is being held in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. It was Kbguy who alerted me to the Loy Krathong festival in Tumpat which I blogged about in my previous post and he is doing me this favour again.
I wanted to watch the event on both days including the opening day which featured the Kelantan Championship on the 17th of November 2008 but due to the earlier job done in the morning interviewing the legendary Ab. Rahman Alabaladi in Wakaf Baru, I felt staying home for the night was in order. It would not be right to leave my wife for two consecutive nights as taking care of our grandchild Balkis for two whole days single handed is a no mean feat.
Another reason why I must cover the second night more than the first night was due to the international flavour of the event on the second night. To cap it, my late sister's grandson Alif M 150 is scheduled to participate on that night. As I have not supported his father's idea of him being involved in this dangerous sport, so I have stayed away from any of his earlier bouts. This time it was different as he had grown up by now and fighting an international championship.
A few days earlier I have checked the site where the event was to be held as Kbguy had given me the 16th as the date of the championship. It was then that I realised the actual date. On the sixteeth, only the preparatory job were being done.
The company that is doing the stage, lighting and sound system for the event in front of Dewan Jubli Intan.On the 16th of November even the stage was not done yet. This event is too small for such an event.
The event is for the Tengku Mahkota Kelantan's Trophy and it was appropriate that TM happens to be the sponsor with the same initials. This is the third of such championship in Kelantan but it is the first time under TM's sponsorship. The sponsorship by TM is God's gift to the sport as the event is now a circuit covering many states of Malaysia where there is a Boxing Association to organnize it. As for Kelantan it was with cooperation of Persatuan Boksing Kelantan and fully suported by the Kelantan State. The opening ceremony was supposed to be by the Menteri Besar himself but on the actual night he was represented by YB Takiyuddin the Exco for Tourism.
Prior to this there was already a championship in Kedah. CDs of the previous event was on sale at the fight.
I came early for the event and I found ample parking around the Sultan Muhammad IV stadium car park and walked the distance to Dewan Jubli Intan. After paying the RM15 entrance fee which they kept the counterfoil so I can't keep the ticket as a memento. I guess something fishy here but will not indulge in giving my opinion as it may create implications somewhere.
From inside I could see the crowd surging to get in.
The small hall is full. I can't give an estimate on the number of attendance but 3,000 people could be a conservative estimate.
The Tengku Mahkota watching the fight from a vantage position with YB Takiyuddin behind him. As is often the case when royalties are involved, the night's event was delayed due to unavoidable circumstances.
My neice Zarena came with her children to support her son Alif in his fight against Arbod.
This is Alif, my late eldest sister's grandson being taped and fitted with the glove.
This is David Williams from Brisbane Australia making an appearance. He will be matched up with Kamaruddin (M-150).
When their turn comes their names will be called and they make an appearance from back stage where they were prepared. The entrance will be accompanied by strobe lights, spotlight and smokes from the smoke making machine. David Williams from Australia was nursing an injured hand from an earlier fight in Phuket. David is in hi mid twenties and had been learning Tomoi for the past six months in Thailand.
I think David offered a draw to Kamruddin after he could not stand the pain.
The pre fight ritual before the fight between Bedu of Boxxwarriors Kulim Kedah and Kenneth Carter of USA.
Kenneth seems to be dishing out all the time.
He even had his opponent down at one stage.
Somehow his opponent managed to rise and he was KOed in the second round.
When it was my Alif's turn to fight, Barbod of Iran appeared first from backstage.
Barbod was supposed to fight Anak Badak. Anak Badak was wise enough to back off when he saw Barbod's size. Alif who had beaten Anak Badak before thought he may be good enough to face Barbod.
Alif making his appearance with his cornerman.
Barbod had a better built, weight and reach. Look at that kick.
Look at this flying lunge.
Barbod was all over Alif. I know it won't be long before he gets Alif. It was after this shot that I heard a sharp punch and the next instant I saw Alif fell down in front of me his grand uncle.
(Akmal, can you see the sweats flying?)
I was so helpless and all I could do was to take more photos. Everybody rushed towards Alif and tried to bring him back to consciousness. Even Barbod's corner man came to help. A hard blow to the head can result in concussion and anything can happen to Alif.
Alif needed a shoulder to go back to the dressing room backstage. You can see the bleeding nose where the full impact of the punch landed.
He was in high spirit and posed for a photograph with his mum and siblings. His dad Zul had to go to Gua Musang to visit an ailing relative.
Brbod was apologetic when I told him that it was my sisters grandson that he knocked out but I told him that it was a part of the game. He was such a nice man that he sportingly posed with Alif while Alif's sister looked on. Alif's mum even requested for a rematch sometime next year to which Arbod said 'sure, sure'. Barbod is an Iranian living in Langkawi and married to a Malaysian. At 33, Arbod will soon be a dad.
Talking about rematch, look at the above picture and you can see the mismatch. The reach, the kick, the weight are all to Arbod's advantage. No wonder Anak Badak backed out. I think I will ask Alif's dad to fight Barbod himself rather than let Barbod maul Alif again.
There was another match that night between Oleg Filipov of Russian and Max 11 of team M-150 Malaysia which went the full distance of 5 rounds and ultimately was won by Max 11. By then it was already 12 midnight and I was no more in the mood to enjoy anymore fights in the steamy, hot and smoky room. If the punches will not kill the spectators, the second hand ciggarette smoke will slowly do it.
It was a joy to inhale the cool and fresh air outside the hall.
Read more about the event here.
Oleg Filipov of Russia
Max 11 Team M-150 Malaysia.
Abbas Ahmadi from Iran fight for Team BoxxWarrior from Kulim Kedah. Abbas is the champion. He won The World Muay Thai Council Asia Telekom Malaysia at the TM Kejohanan Tomoi Antarabangsa Kelantan 2008 by beating Kudin Raja Jerung from Tumpat Kelantan based on points after going the full 5 rounds distance.