Boxing Match As Rare Entertainment For Restive South

Members of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC) at the 'Thai Fight' tournament in Pattani.

(23 September) Over
50,000 people have attended the ?Special Thai Fight? boxing tournament held in Pattanai Province,
the heart of the restive Southern border provinces known for their prolonged separatist violence.

The tournament, which pitched numerous Thai boxers against foreign challengers, was held at
Pattani′s Rainbow Stadium. According to Pol.Col. Tawee Sodsong, Secretary-General of Southern Border
Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC), the number of attendees at the show had exceeded any expectation.

“We expected to see only 20,000 people” said the officer
“but 50,000 people was marvellous”.

The official continued
that “This is a good opportunity for the Southern locals to feel more secure about the
situation.”

“I hope it would bring peace to the
region, so that Pattani can rise up to its glorious days as a centre for investment and education
like it had been in the past”,
Pol.Col. Tawee said.

Antoine Pinto,
a boxer who fought in the tournament, said it is his first time in the South, and he was surprised
to find out that the situation is much better than what I had imagined.

“I am glad that lots of
people paid attention to the game” said the French boxer “I was at first worried about the
situation, but once I arrived I found that everybody was really friendly.”

Mr. Suwat
Liptapanlop, former Deputy Prime Minister, also presided the event. It is the fourth Thai Fight Event
to be organised, but it is the first one to be hosted right in the turbulent South.

The
region had long been plagued with shadowy Islamist militant movements who are demanding an independence
of the Pattani State, the sultunate which once covered the four southern border provinces before it was
incorporated into modern-day Thailand.

The atmosphere at the venue was one of relief where people gathered to
enjoy a brief respite from the ongoing tension. Apart from the boxing match, a bird singing contest
was also organised, which had drawn much attention from the local attendees.

Founded in
2009, Thai Fight has toured many locations around the world, including venues in Cannes, Tokyo, and
Hong Kong.