I stood near one of the ring post as I slipped the wrench through turnbuckle and used it as a lever to tighten it. It was midafternoon in Santa Rosa and the hot humid air could be felt even in the shade of the plaza’s basketball court. Sweat dripped free from my nose as I slowly spun the turnbuckle; tightening the ropes on the boxing ring. After two prior days of assembly and tear down the task of building the ring had become much easier and more efficient. “Do something long enough and eventually you get good at it.” That’s what I tell myself as I put in the final turn of the last turnbuckle. The ropes are nice and tight and the ring is ready for another exciting night of fights; on this particular night we’ll be watching some MMA or Mixed Martial Arts.

The first competitors arrived much earlier than that though making their way to us in the midmorning; all eager to register and weigh–in. They had travelled all the way from Manila; some 100km’s away and were so excited about competing that they got here as early as possible. The three were first time competitors and had been training amongst themselves for the past year or so. They’re enthusiasm brought a smile to my face.

As I walked toward the plaza a few minutes prior to the rings assembly I was stopped by a group of young boys; the oldest being no more than 14 years old. They asked me in their broken English “Can, we fight.” I smiled a big smile; patted them on the back and said “of course you can as long as your parent signs the waiver. ” Only in the Philippines, I thought to myself; and sure enough once the fights had begun we had 4 bouts in the kids division.

The boys participating fought their hearts out in the MMA or mixed martial arts bouts as the growing crowd cheered for them in support. As I watched them ring side I was surprised as to how much these boy knew. For all of them this was their first time in the ring; but they’re knowledge was impressive considering they had no real experience or formal training. “This kids must be sitting around the TV and watching UFC..” I said this to David and he smiled in agreement. “You’d be surprised how much a person absorbs from watching it,” he replies.

The crowd grew and grew as the night wore on. David gave out more T-Shirts; which got everyone to their feet and as the adult division commenced the excitement in the air could be felt even through the humidity. Our first bout ended in the KO; within the first minute; and needless to say that set the stage for the rest of the evening. 3 more fights followed; all of which lead up to our final match. The crowded cheer in wild delight as the fighters hit the stage. They battled for one and a half rounds before it ended with our friend from manila winning via submission.

The night ended on a positive note as the fighters continually thanked us for the experience. We all smiled and laughed and posed for photos. As the crowd died away and the ring was slowly disassembled I sat in solidarity going over the events of the evening my mind. We were all tired; but happy. We all had done a fantastic job and it is always good to feel tired with a long day’s work behind you.

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