Perth couple Samra Krakonja and Jarrod Lahooti attend muay thai event at Bangla Boxing Stadium in Phuket
Samra Krakonja and Jarrod Lahooti at their engagement party held at the Last Drop Beeliar on February 11, 2017

A week prior their engagement party, Perth couple Samra Krakonja and Jarrod Lahooti traveled to Thailand.

Samra Krakonja, 24, is a Neuroscience Student at the University of Western Australia. Jarrod Lahooti, 28, is a former body building competitor, who owns a popular Last Drop pub in Beeliar, WA. They’ve been together for six years. Lahooti made a proposal on July 4 last year. Anticipating the big day when all family and friends gathered together last Saturday, the pair had spent a week in the birth place of the “Art of Eight Limbs”.

“We went to Phuket with a couple of our closest friends,” says Krakonja. “We’ve stayed in the heart of Patong, The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa.”

Certainly occupied by the various touristic attractions and activities, the two have paid a visit to Bangla Boxing Stadium. Indeed, while traveling to Thailand, it is a must to witness its “made in centuries” national sport.

“The event was great, we had so much fun there. The atmosphere was so authentic,” says Lahooti. “You really felt like you were at Muay Thai’s roots. You can see that the sport is very well respected in the community just by the overwhelming excitement in the stadium. It means a lot to both, the fighters and the locals.”

As a fact the fighters in Thailand start competing at the very young age.

Although tagged by some as a ruthless sport, Muay Thai teaches loyalty and respect. Samra Krakonja who has seen it with her eyes.

“Even the youngest competitors in the first few rounds tried their absolute hardest,” she says. “They take it very seriously when they are in the ring.”

“You form a different level of respect for these athletes as you can instantly tell how hard they’ve been working for this day,” adds Lahooti. “It was particularly fun to bet with the locals on who was going to win each of the matches, although they didn’t like it very much when we kept winning the bets.”

Popular in Australia, the art of Muay Thai holds numerous events throughout the country. A few years ago Krakonja and Lahooti have attended one of the events in their home town Perth.

“The events here can be comparable to those in Thailand as they nail the atmosphere here as well,” says Krakonja. “However, we do feel as though the fights are more professionally organised here in Perth, compared to in Phuket, at least for the smaller scale shows.”

“We though did get the same feeling with the crowd,” says Lahooti. “Everyone is genuinely interested in the matches and this reflects in the crowd’s excitement and cheering during the fights.”

Krakonja says that watching the few girls matches was particularly interesting for her. “The intensity and strength of some of these girls was very impressive. It makes me consider taking a few classes myself.”

Muay Thai keeps you focused. It encourages you to break down barriers that you may face. It can translate into your everyday life too.

“Also a younger cousin of mine, Sanin has been training Muay Thai here [in Perth] for a couple of years now,” says Krakonja. “I think it helps a lot with structure, discipline and giving people strength to overcome both mental and physical barriers.”

“I also love the level of respect and tradition the sport promotes through the Wai Khru [Ram Muay]. This helps to create strong friendships with your team, with other athletes and people. I believe this is very important for kids growing up.”

Lahooti has been training in the gym for a “very long time”. He has competed in the body-building under the patronage of Peter Roy of Vital Symmetry. He says that he has recently incorporated muaythai into his training regimen at Combat Defence Systems.

“It’s a great and interesting way to get cardio done compared to just using the stepper at the gym for hours and hours. It has helped a lot with agility, co-ordination and stamina.”

“Not only that, muaythai helps you control your thoughts and emotions and channel them in a positive way towards your training. Learning new moves and techniques has been very stimulating, it’s always great fun to practice the new things that you are learning.”

In conclusion to the journey, the couple says that Thai people made it a wonderful experience for them. “We highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Phuket. You feel very welcomed and they do make an extreme effort to ensure that the tourists are having fun and enjoying the night.”