The Hebrew Hammer and the 4th of July
“HEBREW…HAMMER!!!” As the chanting grew, so did our anticipation. Literally standing ringside, beating an open palm violently on the floor of the muay thai ring, we were getting ourselves amped up. In the red corner stood our boy Idan, a fellow member of the dive shop.
Idan spent 6 years serving in the Isreali military and accepted the night’s fight after just 7 days of muay thai training. (When we asked him why he would accept a fight with such little muay thai experience, he admitted that part of him just wanted to see his face on the fight poster.) Idan calmly paced back and forth, a look of intense concentration etched upon his face. His red headpiece, traditionally worn by the fighters until right before the fight begins, bobbed up and down making him resemble a bird of prey. As the chanting reached a fever pitch, Idan had to stop himself more than once from breaking out into laughter at our rowdiness.
Across from our champion, in the blue corner, stood an American who seemed much less confident after eyeing Idan, obviously the crowd favorite. The American had a teardrop tattoo under his eye, a large spiderweb tat on his neck, and had an extended stint in prison in the US. But none of that would help him from the bottled fury of the legendary Idan.
The opening bell rang, and no time was wasted as Idan raced across the ring to confront his opponent. A hailstorm of right and left hooks connected with the American’s face within the first few seconds. The American desperately managed to clinch, and when they were separated the American pointed to his jock strap which had become loose. The fight was momentarily suspended and the chants of “HEBREW…HAMMER!!!” only grew in intensity as the crowd could smell a slaughter coming on and tossed a few derogatory comments the American’s way.
When the fight commenced, the American withstood a barrage of hooks, crosses, and knees to the head and body. The fight had very little muay thai to it as it was an absolute street fight, with Idan dishing out ten times the punishment he took. The first round bell sounded, allowing for fresh beers to be obtained and the chanting to begin anew.
Within ten seconds of the second round, a thundering “CRACK” resounded through the stadium as Idan’s left foot connected with the American’s right ribs. He instantly slumped to the ground and doubled over when he tried to stand up. It was the best knockout I’ve ever seen in person and we celebrated accordingly, beer spraying into the air as we shouted Idan’s name.
Next up was a fight between Andrew, a dive instructor at Phoenix who competed in Ukranian street fights, and one of the best local muay thai fighters on the island. This fight was a little less intense as the thai fighter wanted no part of Andrew’s powerful punches. He chose to keep Andrew at bay with a series of kicks to the inside and outside of Andrew’s legs, which score a lot of points in muay thai. The fight ultimately ended in a decision after 3 rounds with the local thai fighter emerging victorious.
I would be remiss not to mention a fight at the beginning of the night between two young thai’s. The young boy in the red corner was probably about 12 years old while the munchkin in the blue corner was probably around 8 years old. Thus, the red fighter had every conceivable advantage being a whole head taller, boasting a much larger reach, and having actual muscle tone. But in fighting it’s all about the intangibles and the blue fighter repeatedly took the much larger red fighter to the ground. With each knee the blue fighter landed, the crowd roared in delight and the tenacious youngster won by decision after 5 epic rounds.
The fireworks in the ring that night were rivaled by the fireworks we bought on the 4th of July. The celebrations started early with the whisky flowing at lunch time. I picked up a couple kg of pork from the local butcher and we grilled the pork, some hot dogs wrapped in bacon (unfortunately a bit undercooked), some veggies and some fish.
Emory, a fellow DMT from Texas, purchased the two largest fireworks available on the island and they did not disappoint. Our local bartender Tolleck dug a pit into the ground and we launched those puppies off. When the largest firework shot off, the resounding “BOOM!” had many of us worried that the firework had blown up on the beach. Luckily this was not the case as a white light streaked through the sky, culminating in a grand explosion of shimmering gold that seemed to take up half the night sky. We celebrated well into the next morning covered in markered-on stars and stripes, displaying our pride for our country half the world away.