Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The loft and training area

We are taken into the loft, the home in which that the fighters will be staying as well as training. There are plenty of bedrooms for the fighters, a chic living room area plus a full sized boxing ring surrounded by multitude of punching bags and excellent training equipment. The men look around at the room in excitement and happiness occasionally testing out the equipment. Stephen explains that the room contains all the state of the art equipment that they could possibly desire, and also this was where they would be practicing their fight.

Sean explains that the house is great and it has the best equipment. This is when we see the excitement of the fighters in their new home. Sean and Rafik stand in the ring and exclaim, "we are here!" above The Contender sign. Rafik exclaims that he had never seen grounds like this in his life. The men get a feel around the room and start to socialize with each other. They goof around as they try out the punching the bags and experiment with some of the equipment. They walk around the kitchen, which is stocked with all the possible food that a fighter would need; huge bottles of juice, bananas, bread and a whole lot of other types of food. They peak around the cupboards to see what is in store for them.

Zidov continues to joke around with the other housemates and the atmosphere around the room is light and jovial. The fighters relax around their new living room. David explains that in Thailand they usually stay in shacks and it was nice to be in a comfortable environment for a change. The moment of rest is broken as Stephen and Jaymee enter the room with news and the fighters are summoned to the training area.

There, Stephen tells them that throughout the competition there will be a series of challenges that by winning will allow the winning team to decide who will be competing in the next fight. They will get to pick one person from their own team as well as the opponent from the losing team.

A "school yard pick" is conducted to decide how the fighters will be separated into their teams. Stephen has decided on who the team captains will be, which was dependent on their records and character. John Wayne is called up first. In the interview he says, "It was such an honor as there were so many other great fighters… it’s a privilege... I want to be a good role model." Rafik is chosen as the other captain and he says that he was chosen because "he is strong in his mind and in his body." Jaymee then tosses a coin to determine who will start picking their teammates first. Wayne picks tails and tails it is. He gets to pick first.

First up, he chooses the Yodsaenklai because, he says, he is the strongest and also due to the fact that he is Thai. Rafik picks the next Thai boxer, Naruepol. It seems to be strategy for the team captains to pick the two Thai boxers first and this is confirmed by David when he says in his interview that if he were captain he would pick the two Thai boxers as well as they would be best in their own sport.

John Wayne says that feels the pressure at this point and chooses his countryman next, fellow Australian Soren. At this point the camera pans at Bruce who rolls his eyes at Wayne's decision. He says in his interview that he is a better fighter that Soren, hands down and is looks obviously unhappy that he was not chosen next. However, Rafik chooses him in his next draw. He then says he wanted to be on the opposing team from John Wayne as he has "a score to settle" from the past. Pitu is chosen next by Wayne. Rafik picks David. In the interview with Trevor, he says he is a short guy and obviously when picking a team they would naturally go for the one with the ones with the physical attributes. However, he just didn't want to be picked last.

Tension is prickling in the air as the captains continue to pick their teammates. Wayne picks Dzhabar next. Rafik starts injecting a little humour in his picking style to lighten the mood, and picks Alaint. In his interview, Wayne says that Alain might have been a strong asset to his team if he could have had him. Continuing on, he says that he will pick the only Singaporean on the team, Zach! A relieved looking Zach joins Wayne. Rafik picks Karlsson next. Wayne picks James. Rafik picks Zidov. Rafik says that Zidov is not afraid by strong guys but likes him cause "he's mad." Wayne picks Trevor next.

There are only two more guys left to be picked. In his interview Trevor is the last to be picked by Wayne. He said he really did not want to be picked last and that he wanted to be on Wayne's team. He explains that he has been looking up to him throughout his career and thus it was a great honor for him. A sour Sean was picked last by Rafik and he said he felt pissed off and does not believe that he is the weakest person in the competition. Furthermore, he continued on to say that if people were going to underestimate him then he would use it in his favor.

Stephen then explains to the fighters the meaning of the name of their teams. Wayne's team is the red team called the Tiger Kings, a name derived from one of the strongest fighters in Muay Thai history, a man of strength. Rafik's team is the blue team called Wild Boars, a modern legendary figure in Muay Thai never once lost in his career. The fighters are given their team shirts and are asked to settle into their bedrooms with to their teams.

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