Drop everything else! There's an injustice to right! There's a cause to champion!
A transvestite kickboxer is being stripped of his dignity!
Injustice No. 1: The bra thing.
Sure, 18-year-old Pirinya Kiatbusaba, who is known as Nong (Va-Voom) Toom and has won all but three of his more than 30 fights, was permitted to wear lipstick and eyeliner and pink nail polish. And mascara. And shiny yellow hot pants. But Toom is planning to have a sex-change operation, and the female hormone injections are kicking in. He's beginning to get some, well, sizable breasts. So, for his recent fight in Tokyo, he petitioned Japanese kickboxing officials to wear a bra during the bout. And they balked!
True, they finally let him wear a sports bra under his short tank top, but all the hassle was just plain upsetting, you know? It's no wonder he lost the match on a decision. At the postfight press conference, Toom, clutching a stuffed puppy, told how every time he got hit in the breasts, he lost his breath. Plus, his opponent made fun of them and said they felt "mushy" to the punch. That's so disrespectful. They're only half the size of George Foreman's!
Yeah, you think it's funny fighting this kid until he hits you. He may look like Vickie LaMotta, but he punches like Jake. True, Toom comes to the ring all dressed up—"I must look beautiful in the ring," he says—and it gets a little weird when he does his seven-minute version of the traditional prefight dance to appease the spirits of the ring. Wearing garlands of purple orchids, white jasmine and marigolds, Toom prances, pirouettes, twirls his gloves, raises his legs and, for the finale, does a split as he mimes putting on his makeup. (Extending one glove as if he were holding a compact, he feigns powdering his face with the other.) You don't think, back in the dressing room, Liston was doing that?
One time the spirits-appeasing dance made Toom's opponent so mad that when the referee asked them to shake hands, the opponent planted a wet kiss on Toom's cheek. Toom then planted about 18 kicks on the guy's face on his way to winning the bout easily—and gave him a wet kiss afterward. The poor guy looked as if he'd had the crap kicked out of him by the local Mary Kay distributor. (I'm thinking that if by some weird chance you ever end up dating Toom, breaking up is going to get ugly.)
Injustice No. 2: The weigh-in thing.
Sometimes kickboxing officials ask Toom to weigh in naked, like all the other fighters do. But Toom isn't like all the other fighters. In his Bangkok debut 16 months ago he took a terrified look around, saw all the cameramen and photographers, turned his back to them, put one hand on his hip, the other on the bridge of his nose and began to cry. Finally, he was allowed to weigh in wearing his drawers.
By the way, until he turns 20 and saves enough money for his sex-change operation, the equipment is very real. So is the body: broad-shouldered, slim-waisted and ripped like an Olympic swimmer's, only with B cups.