Muay Thai is a combat sport unlike any other. It comes from a rich history, a strong cultural identity and distinct traditions.
Yet, Muay Thai has travelled far and wide, practised in places you would not associate with the Southeast Asian martial art.
I turn to Hala Cherradi El Fadili who comes from Morocco, for this feature of her Muay Thai photography.
A filmmaker by profession, Hala started doing Muay Thai photography when she moved to Thailand in January of 2020. She shares her inspiration,
“I have wanted for years to do Muay Thai photography but I really felt inspired when I arrived in Thailand because of the people I met here and because of the authenticity of the gyms and the whole cultural background.”
I have met many Muay Thai photographers through the years and the majority of whom are real fans of the sport. There isn’t a lot of money to be made in Muay Thai and it takes a true fan to stay in it simply for the love of the game.
You could tell Hala is a real Muay Thai fan when she name drops some of her favorite fighters,
“ I usually watch fights and I love supporting the female fighting scene. I love Superlek, Seksan, Rodtang, Sangtiennoi, Sawsing Sor Sopit, Allycia Araujo from Phuket fight club, Thepnimit Sitmonchai, Saenchai and many more.”
Hala’s sister, Maha, is a full-time fighter currently based in Thailand. Hala has not only been involved in documenting the Muay Thai scene on Phuket but is also training to fight.
“I first moved to Phuket because my sister was living and fighting there. Also, there is a greater fighting scene for girls. It is challenging in some cities to get fights regularly for girls. I wanted to be in the city with the greatest chances of fighting a lot.
“I am now training at Balance Muay thai in Phuket. It is a relatively new gym so not many people know it yet. It has a great location and the trainers are very good. I am training with Bao Rittichai and Mr Knock (Thepnimit Sitmonchai) at the moment. I hope to fight soon when the stadiums reopen in Phuket.”
Hala now splits her time between training, and documenting life and Muay Thai in Phuket. She is armed with a Sony Alpha 7s and a 50mm lens which she uses to her advantage by focusing more on portrait than action photography.
Hala’s images are often full of contrasts in lights and composition. They capture the beauty of the sports and at the same time, reflect the pain that comes with it. She explains,
“I feel like my style is still evolving a lot at the moment. I am now focusing on getting darker shots that reflect on the struggles and challenges fighters go through during their career.”
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