“All I do, all I think about, is I fight for my son,” said victorious single mother TawMel after taking a wallop to the face and winning her slap fight in a split decision. She took part in the most dramatic bout of the evening, in which she and another contestant, NooKing, fought for the purse of their shared romantic interest. The former wife versus the new girlfriend. TawMel took home B6,000, the biggest win of the evening.
Soi 4’s Hillary 1 played host to the second SlapDownFight on Saturday, a competition that kicked off at 6:30pm to a raucous crowd and live streaming around the world. Involving both women and men and weights from 55-130 kilograms, the slap fights took place over 10 bouts.
“It’s all about putting money in kids’ pockets,” says organizer Dean Bourke. “Not everyone’s a boxer. Not everyone wants to get in the ring and have three minutes of getting the shit punched out of them. This, if you want to have a go, three little bits of pain, and you get paid.” 
The evening begins with a weigh-in, and even that was not free of pro-wrestling-style melodrama. In addition to some shoving theatrics between the lightweights, there are color commentators keeping the show going in Thai and English, as well as a ring girl channeling the Sable’s handprint bikini straight out of the WWE—this is Soi 4, after all. 
The competitors get paid B3,000 for a win, B2,000 for a loss, and this event was sponsored in part by Bangkok Vodka, with some fighters taking shots before their slaps. 
For those new to the slap fight etiquette, the rules are rather simple. Each slapper gets three slaps, unless a slappee is knocked out. All slaps must be made with the area of the hand above the heel, and the slappee holds a pool noodle behind their back and is forbidden from flinching or turning into the slap. Moving the feet or legs during the slap will lead to a point deductions, and the slapper must slap below the eye and temple area. 
SlapDownFight is trying to elevate the sport in Thailand—or at the very least keep it as fun and wildly puerile as it can be while keeping the bouts safe. The event was attended by a professional fight doctor and medic who has also been employed by Muay Thai outfits, including Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
There have been events in Thailand, however, offering little in the way of protection—or compensation. 
“Ended up getting eight million people on Facebook, and ten million people on TikTok to watch it,” Dean says of the first SlapDownFight. “And then some idiot a month later started up at a shopping center…never paid the kids, no rules, no weight divisions, and no doctor.”
The sport is dangerous and caused at least one death in 2021 with Polish fighter Artur Walczack. Slap fighting originated in Russia, because of course it did, and is growing in popularity. Even retired professional fighters are getting in on the game—a sport for people who can take a punch and that doesn’t require physical fitness. 
Because fighters are not allowed to move into the punch, it increases the likelihood of concussion. Fighters at SlapDownFight also wear cotton in their ears to prevent hearing damage.
The first bout claimed the only knockout of the evening, when southpaw Bookieman sent his opponent, Chainoi, down with one slap. He had to be carried off. Throughout the evening though, the doctor was brought on stage several times to check after the health of the competitors. The headline match of the evening took place between Australian James at 120 kilograms and Tor Haki at 110 kilograms, who took the fight in a unanimous decision after sending the Australian stumbling on the first whack. 
“April 20, we’re doing SlapDownFight Australia here because they can’t let it be done in Australia, all the commissions there won’t let me do it. So I’m going to do it here and it’ll be Fox Sports and it’ll be live.”
Watching a single mother compete in a bloodsport on the nadir of the anthropocene that is Soi 4 is not everyone’s cup of tea. But for the crowd and the competitors, this sport slaps.