Interview with Transgender Fighter Angie Petchrungruang
My interview with Angie this morning:
Angie has been training consistently and with dedication at Petchrungruang Gym in Pattaya for about a year and a half now. When she first appeared at the gym we didn’t speak at all; she was only there in the afternoons and came with a friend, who wasn’t really into Muay Thai, so the pair of them kind of peripheral to my awareness. But over time Angie became more serious – she wanted to fight – and her training became more sincere as her friends drifted out of the gym. That’s when Angie and I really connected and I’m quite honestly thankful to have her both as a teammate and as a friend. We are both unusual women and unusual for women, so our bond is across both the differences we have between ourselves and the similarities in our experiences of trying to navigate a space that isn’t designed for us. The way Pi Nu, our trainer, talks about Angie, I can tell how much he likes her and admires her heart. I think she changed his mind about kathoey in similar ways to how my presence and hard work has changed his mind about Cis female fighters. The pair of us, unusual as we are, kind of push out against the edges of the gym space, broadening the borderlines just a little bit.
Just before Angie’s first fight, I interviewed her in the gym (that interview below). She’d been training for only a couple of months but felt ready to get in the ring. Now she’s fought about 7 times (10 if you count the fights at the bar, which are only 3 rounds and sometimes considered “unofficial” to a fighter’s record) and has a winning record. Tomorrow night will be Angie’s first televised fight, on a card up in Saraburi, about 4 hours away from Pattaya. Two other boys from the gym are on the card, but only Angie’s fight is on TV. So I stopped by her shop this morning to interview her about this next big step for her fight career, as well as her thoughts on the historic fight of Nong Rose last night at Rajadamnern. We spoke at a table behind her small beverage shop, where she serves up iced and blended drinks during the day, between training sessions. It can be hard to work full-time and still get up for running at 5 AM, but Angie does it 5-6 days per week and always works hard when she’s in the gym. She is, what they call in Thai, jai su – has a fighting heart.
Angie Petchrungruang, Petchrungruang Gym in Pattaya
Angie started training in Muay Thai only about a year and a half ago, at the age of 30. This is quite different from both Nong Toom (“The Beautiful Boxer”) and Nong Rose (first kathoey to ever fight at a National Stadium dressed as a woman), who were raised as fighters when young boys.
My first interview with Angie, a year and a half ago, before her first fight: