Lord K2 (David Sharabani) is a London born artist who is known for his photography as well as his stencil graffiti. He is currently documenting the Muay Thai culture and lifestyle in Thailand. Having spent the past three years completely immersed in the sport of Muay Thai, watching the heartbreak, the defeat, the triumph, and the humanity of the sport, Lord K2 looked for an outlet to give back to the sport that gave him so much. ROUGH sat down with Lord K2 to talk about his recent project with Wor. Watthana to empower and provide a path out of poverty through Muay Thai for children and communities in rural Thailand.
What made you want to document Muay Thai?
I only wish to photograph topics that I am passionate about as well as dwell in the environments/countries that I enjoy being in. After years of training in martial arts and boxing, documenting Muay Thai in Thailand was an obvious choice. I also felt that many foreigners misunderstood the essence of Muay Thai. It goes far beyond blows in the ring. I was always eager to invite people along with me to the stadiums years ago. I can now share my photographs which stretch far beyond the stadiums and to a large audience.
What did you learn from the sport?
I learned a lot from the sport. On a personal level, I used to be quite an aggressive athlete, I used to expend way too much energy for nothing. I learned the Thai way, to relax and engage in a meditative manner. This aids in clarity of vision, power generation and energy conservation. I also learned that it is physically possible to train 6 days a week twice a day, (laughs)! I had to see it to believe it.
What did you learn from the fighters?
Humility. They don’t gloat about how many fights they have had, how many victories, nor how much heavier the opponent they beat is. Respect. I’m amazed to see the respect they show their opponents, their opponents trainers and the referees. Integrity. These warriors don’t go walking around like tough guys, nor have I come across fighters with bad attitudes or huge egos. I have only come across well mannered athletes.
What surprised about you the sport the most?
I am surprised at how well these fighters take blows and how quickly they seem to recover post fight. I am also surprised at how little they complain. I’ve accompanied fighters in the back of pickup trucks, traveling for hours, who then fight in the early hours without knowing who their opponent is, then have to drive home injured only to fight again in a couple of days. There appears to be a lot to moan about, but it’s culturally not acceptable to complain.
What was the most beautiful thing you saw?
Watching Superbank Mor.Rattanabundit perform the Wai Kru.
What was the most painful thing you saw?
Watching a fighter in Chiang Mai seemingly unconscious for a few minutes from a knockout kick. I wasn’t sure if he would come round or not.
Why did you start this project with Wor. Watthana?
I am impressed with the work Frances and Boom are doing. Their mission and drive to create a safe haven for underprivileged kids amidst challenging circumstances inspired me to get involved. In Isaan it is hard to progress in life, opportunities are few, motivation is low, it’s hot, it’s humid, rural and there is a sense of apathy to work. Wor. Watthana is a gateway to a career, stepping far beyond the area’s limited options. I would like to see the gym continue in it’s growth and reach out to an increasing number of kids, the appetite is there, but more funds are needed to develop the land in order to realize the potential of the gym.
What do you want to say to prospective buyers of these prints?
Firstly, every single cent of their purchase goes directly to the fighters. Frances, Boom and myself are not recovering any costs. $100 goes a very long way in Isaan where the cost of a meal is as low as 30 cents, each purchase would undoubtedly be highly appreciated by the kids. The prints are 13″x19″ and printed on 260gsm archival Ilford lustre paper (museum quality). Each image is signed, numbered and limited to 10.
Follow LORD K2 on Instagram and online. To get your hands on his amazing limited addition prints, head to the official website. 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting Wor. Watthana’s mission to empower and provide a path out of poverty through Muay Thai for children and communities in rural Thailand.