The fall of a fighter: corruption and gambling in Muay Thai
A couple of years ago Roycherng Singmawin was facing some of the top fighters in Thailand. Today the 20 year old’s career is in tatters as he stands accused of fixing a fight at Rajadamnern Stadium.
The ugly side of Muay Thai reared its head this week when Roycherng was arrested. He’s accused of deliberately losing by decision against Dao Kor Kampanart on December 20th in a fight he was expected to win comfortably.
During the peak of his career Roycheng fought some of the best super flyweights and bantamweights in Thailand like Peankon Tor Surat, Kompatak Sinbimuaythai, Gingsanlek Tor Laksong and Phichitchai PKSaenchaigym.
Now his fighting days appear to be over. It was the Singmawin camps owner, Thatchanon Kachasuwan, who felt his charge was not fighting to his full potential and brought the matter to the attention of the police.
It was his performance during the fight that aroused the suspicions of his gym.
“His opponent was a replacement for his original opponent and he should have fought to a lot higher level than he did, in the fourth and fifth rounds he looked like he was holding back and not opening up as he should with his weapons. This led us to keep a close eye on his actions after and to check who he had been contacting,” said Thatchanon.
During the press conference the accusations against the boxer, whose real name is Ekkarak Chumthong, were set out in detail. Police have supposedly found incriminating messages on Roycheung’s social media accounts and believe they have pieced together the real story.
Roycheung was alleged to have been initially approached by another boxer at his gym to take money to lose his bout with Dao and to have received a 30,000 baht down payment first followed by a similar sum of money after the fight.
There was supposedly a chain of people involved in the path to the main figure, a gambler known as Sian Ek. He provided the money, with the intent of betting an even larger sum on Roycherng’s opponent.
The problem of match fixing has been around the sport for as long as gambling has been involved and it can be a constant headache for gym owners trying to prevent their fighters from the lure of quick and easy, but ultimately dirty, money.
Most gyms are wary of outsiders coming to the gyms and getting too close to the boxers and try to keep an eye on their fighters and who they talk to. The advent of the internet has made this task tougher because ‘fixers’ can use social media platforms such as Facebook to contact fighters discreetly.
There was a case recently involving Offside Sorjorwichitpadriew, who was stopped at Rajadamnern stadium. His performance and a few other indicators led his boss to believe he had thrown the fight and, after investigation, he admitted to receiving 150,000 baht to lose from a gambler he had met via Facebook.
Betrayal of trust
This particular case only came about after Singmawin accepted a boxer from outside the gym to train there for his fights. He was the initial contact and, as with many other cases, Roycherng was allegedly offered a series of small payments as favours before being asked to throw the fight.
Roycherng’s boss Thatchanon expressed his disappointment with his actions and explained why he felt so betrayed by the fighter,
“Roycherng was the first boxer we had at the gym since we started and is also from my hometown. We decided to call this conference as this kind of thing does a lot of damage to the sport. We want to let the other boxers know that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and try to make them think twice about doing something like this in the future. Hopefully if we all work together to stop this kind of thing happening it will help the sport grow stronger in the future.”