Earlier this month, prisoners at Klong Prem Prison in Bangkok were given the opportunity to literally fight for their lives.
Hardened Thai prisoners were pitted against free fighters in Muay Thai and traditional boxing. The winners were fighting for cash but prisoner’s also had the chance to win freedom.
Inmates that win a championship have a shot at having their sentences commuted, according organisers Prison Fight.
Prison Fight brands itself as a charity organization and its fights as charity events.
The organiser said regardless of the enormity of their crime, every prisoner had a chance to have their sentence cut. But he also said the prisoners were judged on their behaviour outside of the ring.
The tournaments are supposed to promote sport among prisoners and help them stop taking drugs so they are more socially apt upon release.
The first tournament held in a Thai prison was in 1767 after thousands of Thai soldiers were taken prisoners by the Burmese after the fall of Ayutaya.
While incarcerated the best Thai boxers had to fight against Burmese boxing champions. The ultimate champion, as legend tells it, was a Thai fighter, Nai Khanomtom, whose win so astonished the Burmese king that he granted him his freedom.
The first fight to incorporate free foreigners was on January 6, 2013 at Pak Chong Prison and run by Prison Fight.
The main fighter of the event was a two world champion Sirimongkol Singwangcha who was serving 20-years sentence for drug trafficking.
Held in one of the prison’s courtyards, the fighting takes place in a traditional elevated ring situated under a tin roof.
The best seats, close to the ring and out of the sun, are reserved for the wardens, senior officials and the press.
In the latest bout of fights every match up was won by a Thai inmate apart from one of the Muay Thai matches and one of the boxing matches. These two fights were one by European free fighters.