Contender Asia – James Martinez is sent home

27 Jan

by Contender Asia (2008-01-27)

In the first fight of the show, it was Naruepol from the Wild Boars up against Trevor from the Tiger Kings. Although Trevor fought hard, he lost out to his Thai counterpart who obviously had superior Muay Thai skills. A triumphant Naruepol shared “In my last fight, I fought for Thailand, my father, mother and my camp manager. I’m a Thai fighter. I miss home everyday but I’m not finished with my job.” His trainer told him sentimentally “Everything was perfect, no problem. Nothing. You made the Thai people very proud today. Thank you.”
Inside the Tiger Kings room
After this loss to their team, We saw a very dejected bunch of Tiger Kings heading back to the loft immediately after Trevor’s defeat. They looked mentally and physically defeated. In their room, John Wayne hung up Trevor’s mongkok while he said he has a good heart. Pitu says, “Good heart. Go! Go! Go! ” Zach adds in, “Little man but big heart.” Pitu continued, “Yes, but he fought with the best one of the other team, man.” Soren said that Trevor was gone and they did not even manage to say goodbye. Solemn looks were exchanged across the room as this blow to their team had genuinely affected them. John Wayne explained that the boys felt upset that they did not get the chance to even say a proper goodbye to Trevor. This is what seemed to hurt the group most. Pitu continued to ask pitifully, “We cannot see him? We cannot say bye to him? Cannot hug him?” The air in the room was pregnant with devastation.
Pitu attempted to boost morale by saying that though they had lost the fight, they will not lose the war. Wayne continued his attempts to motivate his team by saying that they have to win tomorrow and they let out a cheer for their team. In his interview Wayne explained that the reality of the situation was such; it was a competition and when someone loses they would have to go home. To honour Trevor, James wrote on the wall above Trevor’s empty bed, “Trevor the tiger heart was here.” As the men grimly watched him write this, they let out applause for their brave fallen comrade.
With the Wild Boars
Naruepol entered the room with a smug smile on his face. His group mates immediately cheered and hugged him as Rafik told him, “Good boy! Good boy!” Bruce said in his interview that Naruepol did a good job and set the standard for everyone else. He had made the blue team quite proud. In stark contrast to the Kings’ room, the spirits were high and happy as the team cheered wildly over their win. David asked Naruepol, “Was it a hard fight for you?” Naruepol replied cooly, “Easy, Easy,” with cocked brows.
Zidov then started the conversation with, “I think it’s really difficult to fight one of these (Thai) guys, you know? Yodsaenklai or Naruepol, it’s really difficult.” David added on, “It’s their game. It’s their sport. It’s their game. So you know everyone’s gonna want to put them on their own pedestals” Most of the men nod in agreement with this. However, Rafik felt completely different.He reiterated five times in a serious tone; “I don’t care,” in response to whether the Thais are the hardest to beat. In his interview he said, “I’m not afraid by Thai fighters. In the ring or outside the ring I’m is not afraid.” This became very reminiscent of the Rafik we have seen in the previous episode whom remained very confident of his abilities. He continued on by saying that in the ring there was only one thing, you either win or you lose. He said he could be crazy and this sparked on a laughing fit by David. He seemed to be highly amused by what he perceived to be Rafik’s naivety in this competition. Sean says in his interview that although he really liked Rafik as a person, whenever it came down to talking or making decisions about fights he, “pissed him off.”
We were then brought back to the scene in the previous episode, where Rafik completely out of the blue told his group that Yodsaenklai told him that he wanted to fight against Sean. However, the Wild Boar’s refused to believe him, unless what he said does come out true. There is something in Rafik’s character, his possible double headedness that made him a guy to watch in the team and in the show.

Training time
The men got up rather lazily and started eating their breakfast in the loft, as Stephen had to haul them out. Dzhabar was still in bed, feigning a stomachache. Stephen punched him playfully several times in the stomach and forced him to get ready. James said in his interview, that Stephen knew that the reality of the sport is that the winner stays and the loser goes home.
During training, the contenders were pushed further than they were earlier, as the level of the training had stepped up. Stephen went around the room, and pushed the fighters to strive harder. As Yodsaenklai did some sit ups, he told him, “Harder! Harder! Harder!” We see the fighters pushing themselves, doing side crunches, sit-ups and push-ups. Wayne pretended to fake a yawn as his trainer punched his stomach, so that he could push himself further. The fighters looked determined to build up their fitness levels till its optimum. At this juncture, Karlsson said, “The training has changed from the first days. As you see the other fighters go home you start thinking of yourself, maybe you should train harder so you won’t go home.” In that moment Stephen barks at Bruce, “Why are you always last bruce? Is it because you always **** around during training!” He ordered another round for an angry looking Bruce.
James explained that as the training goes on, the fighters were looking behind each other shoulders to assess their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Zidov said that the fighters would be assessing who would be easier to fight and win. He said that he wanted to choose Zach, James or Soren. Yodsaenklai said, “During training I had a chance to watch Wayne, Bruce, David and Rafik. Bruce has some punches but they aren’t heavy enough. He can also kick. But his rhythm and skills are no match for a Thai.” He continued about John Wayne, “He has heavy punches followed by his kicks. From what I saw he seemed very strong and fearsome.” Wayne said that while training he likes to keep his eye on Rafik as he tends to be a little lazy with his punches. He said, “If he throws one punch, I throw three or four.” Rafik had something very different to say about the training. He said that they should train slowly as they never knew what kind of surprise they might get for their challenge.
At this point, Stephen stopped the fighters and instructs them to shower and have lunch as their challenge was up next and it was going to be something they would definitely enjoy.
The challenge
The men met Jaymee and Stephen by the Singapore River. They were clad in their respective team t shirts and bandannas. Jaymee started of by explaining that dragons were the rulers of the rivers and the seas. In Chinese culture they were the symbols of strength and vitality. So, their challenge this time around was going to be dragon boat racing down the Singapore River. The fighters clapped in excited anticipation. Jaymee continued on to elaborate that the Singapore Dragon Boat Association provided them with two boats that would race side by side along the Singapore River. The first boat to reach the finish line will win.
Stephen added that there would be six rowers and one drummer. The drummer was important as he kept the pace for the rest of the team rowing. Jaymee then asked the teams to decide on their drummers. The Tiger Kings chose James and the Wild Boars chose David. Due to the fact that the Boars have an extra member, they chose Naruepol to sit out as he just had a fight the night before.
Strapped in their pink life jackets and supplied with oars, the men filled up into their respective boats. Once everyone was ready, Jaymee blew the horn and they were off! The drummers were drumming at an even pace to their group mates cheers. The sounds were rhythmic, “Bong, cheer, bong.” The Tiger Kings started of with an early lead, however the Wild Boars did not lose their pace and stepped up their efforts as David upped the tempo with the drum. Stephen told James from the sidelines, “Faster James faster!”
The Wild Boars almost caught up with the Tiger Kings when James drummed even faster pushing them into the lead once again. Both teams continued to stay neck and neck with each other as the lead kept changing hands. The teams moved together harmonium in their teamwork, moving the oars rhythmically and together with the beat of the drum. They approached the finish line and the Wild Boars had just a small lead ahead of the Tiger Kings. The horn went off with the Wild Boars ahead winning their second challenge in succession.
Naruepol raised their flag in victory as the team cheered in joy. The Tiger Kings clapped for the Wild Boars in a show of good sportsmanship, although they were obviously upset. Rafik went wild and jumped into the river in happiness. Jaymee and Stephen cheered for the Wild Boars as they clinched their second challenge win in the competition. They came in cheering and clapping overjoyed from their win. The Tiger Kings were more than dejected with themselves and struggled to maintain their composure. Yet again the Wild Boars got to decide who would be competing in the next fight.
However Jaymee had another surprise. On top of their win, she said, the Wild Boar’s had also won themselves a sunset cruise on board a luxury yacht where they would be treated like the kings or the pigs that they are as Jaymee put it. The dejected Tiger Kings were sent back to the loft where they would have to cook their own meals and wash their own dishes. Wayne, tried to cover up their disappointment by saying they would rather go to the gym and train up so that they would be able to win the fight against the Wild Boars later on. The Wild Boar’ss started acting cocky around the Tiger Kings as the Kings maintained their cool.

Enjoying their prize
As the men approach the jetty, there was a splendid yacht greeting them at Marina Bay. They talked excitedly as they walked around on board the yacht while they explore the different parts of it. It is an elaborate yacht with exotic dishes and champagne served on the deck. Zidov said, “It was nice food with nice company and nice friends.” Bruce exclaimed that the best part of the reward was getting to go out instead of sharing a loft with sixteen guys. They let out their group cheer and started celebrating.
Soon after, they start gloating about their second win against the Tiger Kings. Alain said that the Tiger Kings were already pissed off when they lost and it hurt them further when they heard that the Wild Boars were rewarded for their win as well! Comically, he imitates their angry faces. Rafik jumped in on the action by imitating the face of Pitu (like sucking on a sour lemon) as he explained that their faces were getting darker by the day. The group laughed heartily at his impersonation. David said in his interview,”When someone puts in 105% in trying not to get beaten and you beat them, it is a wonderful feeling!”
Rafik started getting sentimental by saying that they were never going to forget the moments when they were together as a group. Zidov jokingly told him to stop or he would start crying and David hugged him to console him. Rafik hugged Naruepol and in the spirit of carrying on the jovial mood, Zidov joked that he was jealous that Rafik did not hug him and Rafik duly obliged. The men continued to ravel in their glory as they joked and laughed together, enjoying their third victory over the Tiger Kings. David said in his interview that the team had this glue between them that made them gel well together. He commented that that the Tiger Kings did not seem to have that kind of glue between them.

Back with the Kings
Wayne exclaimed that he was very annoyed after the dragon boat race, as he wanted them to win so badly so that they could, “pull down their pants and moon them (Boars).” Everyone was crestfallen after their second challenge defeat to the Wild Boars. Adding on the fact that now, once again they had no control over who would be chosen to fight from their group, it made them even more gloomy.

Zach explained that unfortunately it was just the last bit where the Wild Boars got faster and they got slower. Wayne said that though it was fun at first, now their entire reputation was staked on it as they had lost two in a row and would come out as sore losers. They needed to start “saving face” and start winning. He added that it was his obsession now to beat the “absolute crap” out of Rafik as he “rubs him the wrong way.” Although he was the other team captain he said that there could only be one boss and that was not Rafik.
Returning to the Celebrations
The men suddenly got the crazy idea to jump into the sea for a swim. Rafik, Zidov Alain, Sean and David jchanged into their bathing suits while Karlsson explained they were getting closer through their trip, which was nice. As the men jumped into the sea for a swim, they wrestled and mucked aroundwith each other. We see images of Zidov and Rafik playing around with each other while Zidov explained in his interview that he liked Rafik as he was very much like him as they both liked to joke around and laugh. However he added that Rafik had different jokes as compared to him which was probably the reason why people did not like Rafik very much. But as long as he did not say anything bad about him, it was fine!
Rubbing it in
The Wild Boars returned to the loft to as Rafik puts, the sour faces. They started telling the Tiger Kings all about their big reward on board a luxury yacht to Sentosa Island. Although the Kings tried to put on a brave front, they were obviously sore on the inside. Bruce said that the best part about going back to the loft was telling the Kings exactly where they had been, while he watched their expressions.
Although the Kings tried to defend their honor by saying they were at the gym, Sean said in his interview that it did not matter as they were on a yacht! David started gushing to Zach about how nice their trip was and then casually asked Zach lightly what they had been up to. Zach burst out in laughter as he retorted,”You trying to be sarcastic?” In his interview he said when they came back they had to feign interest as they rubbed their glory in their faces.
Time for deliberation
Rafik said they knew it was going to be a more difficult decision this time around. He started of by asking those who wanted to fight to raise their hands. Sean raised his hand first and explained that he was ready to fight. Zidov then raised his hand as well and said that he hoped the team would choose him cause he really wanted to fight as well. Sean wanted to fight with James and Zidov wanted to fight with Zach. Rafik explained that if they lost the next challenge it might be Yodsaenklai or someone better who might come after them.

In comparison to this David explained in his interview that some of the people would rather fight with the strong fighters in the semi-finals or the finals so that it would be more worthwhile. Sean brought up Rafik’s story that Yodsaenklai wanted to fight Sean and Sean told him off that and believed that Yodsaenklai might want to fight with Rafik instead. Rafik tried to smooth talk his way out of it by saying that he was not against anybody. Just that there were two people and they had to choose.
In his interview Sean explained that Rafik just wanted them to fight with someone of his choosing in lieu of the game that he was playing.He explained that it was not about him fighting James but about Sean not trusting his leader. As the tensions start to rise, the Wild Boards finally decide to put it to a vote.
Anticipation within the Tiger Kings
The Tiger Kings were sitting in a circle looking rather resigned with their predicament. Wayne asked if everyone was ready to fight and everyone nodded solemnly in agreement. Then he asked who they thought would be choosen. Zach said it would be either him or James. He said in his interview that it was due to the fact that both him and James were the least known and experienced fighters. James said that it did not matter because even though the games and challenges were fun, he was there to fight.
Wayne pointed out that he might be chosen by Rafik as he apparently ‘insulted’ his mom by telling him that “your mama papa miss you. I send you home.” He explained in his interview that he knew that Rafik had his number and he was hoping he would pick him so that he could send him home and send a shockwave through their team.
Who fights next?
They have been summoned into the training area by Stephen and Jaymee to deliver their decision. Wayne said it was like judgment day due to the fact that they never knew who would get chosen. Jaymee asked who was chosen from the Wild Boars. Rafik said that although he was the captain of the Wild Boars he wanted Bruce to say a few words.
Bruce smugly asked the Tiger Kings, “Whoever wants to go home can step down.” They continued cheering on cockily and the Tiger Kings were obviously not amused till Yodsaenklai finally spoke out, “hey frenchie, big mouth, small heart.” All the Tiger Kings cheered for him and this seemed to shut an ashamed looking Rafik for a bit. He replied in Thai that his heart is strong but his brain is stronger. Finally frustrated after all the teasing Dzhabar says they can choose anyone they wanted, as they were all ready.
Jaymee asked them once again, who was chosen to fight from their team and finally Sean stepped forward. He said in his interview that it was not an easy decision as Zidov wanted to fight badly as well but in the end the guys backed him up. Stephen then asked Sean who his opponent was going to be. He picked James and they shaked hands and hugged. Stephen asked why he wanted to fight with James and he explained that they it will be a good match for them both especially since they are both were both ready to fight. The fighters shake hands one more time. James said that he was not surprised as they were about the same size and weight so it was bound to happen. He added that the crowd was in for a very aggressive fight. Somebody was going to get hurt, he said, and it was either he or Sean.
At the dinner table
While having their meal, James was sitting with David, Zidov and Sean. David asked if it was weird that his opponent was sitting at the same table as him. James explained in his interview that he was used to the fact that his opponents were usually from different gyms and countries. This time, it was so different as they had been living and training together. He added, “You tend to like someone when you’ve been living together but once you get in the ring all friendships are out of the door.” In conversation with Zach, Sean explained that he does not really have a problem with hitting a friend, as he and James are very good friends. He says “soft tissue damage,” would be fine.
Sean explained in his interview that he has had 31 fights in total and 8 fights during the year. He commented that James was an unorthodox fighter, as he would throw the odd flying knee or elbow. He told Bruce that he thought that he would only lose if he was not paying attention. Bruce said in his interview, “people might think that Sean is weak cause he was picked last but he is the WMC intercontinental champion, living in Thailand. His Muay Thai skills are a little better than James.”
Sean said, “I was going to take the belt just to wind up James.”Bruce agreed that he should have, however Sean argued that there were guys with nine or ten belts and it would be embarrassing. He was thinking of playing mind games with James in reference to what James had told him before. Sending him a ransom note for his kids would do the trick. Sean confessed in his interview that as he and James were having a conversation a few nights ago, James had told him that to psyche himself up before a match, James liked to imagine that his daughter had been kidnapped by the person he was competing against. So he thought that James was probably imagining that Sean had kidnapped his daughter at that moment. Although Sean was initially thinking of playing the mind games, he finally decided not to.

In the Tiger Kings’ room, Soren asked James who the people in his pictures were. James pointed out to his wife Monique, his daughter Eunique and Cherish. He explained that he had missed his daughter’s second and third birthdays and now he was about to miss her fourth birthday. He felt that he needed to fight hard to make it up to her. In a teary interview, he said he felt he owed it to her to give it his all to win the fight.
The night of the fight
We first witnessed Sean preparing for his fight. As he got taped up he said he was in his best physical fitness for this fight. He wanted to prove to everyone that he was not the underdog or the weakest. James explained in his room that he liked to keep his mind clear the night before the fight. When he was in the ring he liked to concentrate on his fight. Wayne puts the mongkok on Jame’s head. In Sean’s room, as he was getting oiled up, he said he needed to get into a mentally relaxed state. He believed he could hit hard and fast without being angry. He just needed to be tactically aware of what was going on in the fight. He fired some shots at his trainer, in a last minute warm up preparation. After a resounding “good” by his trainer, he stopped and got ready to make his way to the ring.
Wayne asked James in his room, “You don’t mind staying little bit longer do you?” James replied, “I don’t mind. I don’t mind staying a bit longer. That’s why I’m here.” Wayne showed him a picture of his family and said, “that’s the fire you need in your belly, tonight is going to be worth it.” In his interview, through sniffles James explained that he wanted to come up on top due to all of his sacrifices that he has made for his family. He said, “Without being with my family, I feel torn apart. So, when I’m in the ring I am just going to tear my opponent apart.” Sean ended of by saying that an emotional fighter like James was not going to be good for him but for Sean.
He entered the ring first with Bruce walking forward carrying his belt. He bent down bowing to the ring and climbed up. James said in his interview that he was not there for fun and games; he was there to do his best. His daughter was going to have a great birthday present. With that he entered the arena flagged by his trainer and Wayne by his side. He hugged his fellow Tiger Kings and went on into the ring. As per tradition, they performed the Wai Khru. As Sean performed his Wai Khru, Wayne told James, “Every time he comes in, bang him hard.”
Round One
The bell sounds and it was fight time. Dzhabar told James from the sidelines, “It’s your fight!” Sean threw the few first punches, which were well blocked. James tried kicking Sean at the feet but those attempts were blocked as well. For a while, they seemed evenly matched. Sean threw fiery blows at James’ head and legs. Their teammates were shouting words of encouragement as the battle continued.
Sean aimed his kicks at the inner part of Jame’s legs. In retaliation James was able to deliver one hard, sharp kick to Sean’s collarbone. Sean had managed to push James into a corner and delivered a sharp kick to the inside of his leg. They got stuck in a huddle and James’ shots were blocked. He is cornered yet again and this time Sean’s kicks his inner thigh to knock him off balance causing James tumbled to the ground. He stumbled and struggled to get up. By this point, Sean had noticed that James’ right thigh was his weakness. James managed to block Sean’s punches to his face. However, Sean seized the moment and deliverd a hard kick right into James’s shin. James crumbled to the ground and this time, James struggled to get back on his feet. The referee started the countdown. “8… 9… 10″ He calls the fight in Sean’s favour as the American, James did not make it back on his feet before the 10 count came up.With victory sealed, Sean checked to see if James was all right and if the injury obtained was bad in a very good show of sportsmanship. The winner was then announced as Sean.
He later said that he felt it was a very anti-climatic end due to all of the preparation that had gone in and yet the job was done so quickly. He was ready to go for the next round. In James’ room, his trainer’s iced his shin. He looked thoroughly disappointed with himself as he nursed his injury. He explained that he had some emotional problems although he put them aside before the fight. James exclaimed to Wayne that he would rather be knocked out than get a cramp. He knew Sean did what he had to do and simply kicked him in the right spot that caused his downfall.
In a sad ending, he hung up his mongkok. Carrying the picture of his family, he said he wanted to be with his family although he wanted to train as well. He ended off by saying it just was not his night. Hanging his cloth on the ring, he limped out of the studio and the shutters closed behind him.

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