Thai college student
Kep, a 20 year old Thai college student. He comes from a very modest background. For over a year he has been romantically pursued by Darwa, a member of the royal family that once ruled northern Thailand. They both attend a university in Bangkok. Kep's interest lies elsewhere.
His energy and conscientiousness have put him in the thick of a student and worker political movement to bring changes to Thailand. Caught away from the university, Kep is set upon by right wing thugs. Dazed by a board slammed against the back of his head, four hands grab his arms; an arm locks tight about his throat.
He strains and struggles in the grip of three men, holding him still enough for the fourth to throw a fist into his abdomen, and then another and another and another. A knee is thrust up into his solar plexus, causing him to choke momentarily.
A hand grabs for the front of his shirt and pulls until the buttons give way. A head leans into Kep's chest; an open hand gropes his bare skinned abs and then wham! A fist is thrust into his slender midsection and hardly removed before a second fist hits, driving in deeper.
Kep was fighting to breathe from the choke hold about his neck and struggling with all his effort to pull his arms out of the hold of the two guys which held them. A minute more of jabbing gut blows continued. The gasping for air overrode the pain from the punches, but the blows were brutal and weakened him further.
With the fight beaten out of him, he is thrown back against a concrete wall, shirt still open, a round kick's foot lands in his gut. Then one is thrust to his face and another to his chest. As he starts to fall he hears some shouts, then foot steps as he hits the ground, curling his body.
Two men kneel beside him. Giving him a few moments, they speak assuring words to him and lift him to his feet. They hold him up as they make their way towards the street, where one hails a taxi. They are quiet most of the trip to a Bangkok suburb. Minutes later they lay him on a bed to rest.
The two men are father and son. Two hours later, the younger, Tran, checked in on Kep who awoke in his presence. They introduced themselves and Kep thanked Tran for the help. Tran, 22, worked in a muay thai camp in Chiang Mai, and his father owned a shop there.
Kep returned to the university and was met by Princess Darwa, who impatiently insisted on him spending the semester break with her and her family. Kep had no romantic interest in Darwa, and no interest in her family. He declined her invitation, but her pursuit of him had reached a level of exasperation and she wouldn't accept his response, insisting he be with her. With a final "No," he left Darwa, knowing of her connections and their possible consequences.
Two days later after his final exam, he was told his scholarship had been revoked and all expenses for the upcoming semester would have to be paid up front. The revocation could have been Darwa's work or that of Government loyalists in the university. The attacks upon students had increased; it was too dangerous to stay in Bangkok and until he had money for school it was better to go elsewhere. He'd been invited by Tran to visit him in Chiang Mai and so he would.
Arriving in Chiang Mai, Tran and Kep spent time together when they could. Tran was a trainer at the muay thai camp, and Kep was allowed to observe the morning and evening regimen. He mimicked the training routine, though at first he could not keep up the pace of even the youngest fighters. He wasn't a total novice of muay thai either, having participated in youth camps many years before.
Kep enjoyed Tran's company very much and it was mutual. He'd over stayed his welcome but didn't want to leave Tran. He needed money to finish school and knew it could be made in muay thai. He arranged with the camp owner to stay and train at no cost, but for 25% of any match prizes. The arrangement did not include room and board, which he got from Tran's father in exchange for working in his shop.
In his third week in Chiang Mai, Kep's relationship with Tran became physical, after a short run that ended in the rain and them alone in a small shelter.
Tran had Kep supplement his training routine with muscle building as well. His endurance built up swiftly and his physique hardened. Though still woefully unskilled, Kep entered his first match after three months of training.
The match was considered so lop sided there was no waging.
Kep showed a flurry of his fledgling skills in the first round, but in the second was caught in a barrage of quicker moves, which he managed to last through until the round's end. The battering continued in the third, and his trainer was amazed at how much punishment he could take. Tran felt the referee should have stopped it and Kep was against the ropes much of the fourth round when his trainer stepped in to stop the match.
He had his second match a month later. Kep was much more aggressive and quicker this time. He also could take a hit without it throwing him off stride, a fact that let him get in close. He unexpectedly won the match.
There was more training and more matches scheduled. He won his next four matches and was getting some attention from the other camps.
Tran and Kep spent all of their free time together. The emotional and physical bond had swelled.
. . . to be continued