Having spent all week strapped on the back of a 3-ton elephant competing in the Hua
Hin King's Cup elephant polo tournament, American writer Antonio Graceffo stepped
away from the paddock to take part in an exhibition boxing match in the Thailand
seaside town's Grand Sports Stadium to raise awareness for the elephant's cause.
The King's Cup tournament, now in its fourth year, was competed by 14 teams drawn
from around the globe to raise money for the Lampang Elephant Conservation Centre
(LECC) in Northern Thailand. With the initial forecast of raising 1.5 million baht
for the project looking likely to be exceeded, and a fantastic week's entertainment
had by all involved, the tournament has been a resounding success.
Phnom Penh-based Graceffo, who boxes part-time and has even starred in a recent Cambodian
kung-fu movie, strapped on his gloves in front of a packed crowd and gave a rousing
performance. In a closely fought three-round contest, Antonio was unlucky to come
out on the wrong side of a tight decision, but was happy to have accomplished his
mission of letting people know about the ECC's work. "Sometimes charity hurts,"
laughed Graceffo. "If I were Bob Hope I wouldn't have to do this - but I can't
sing or dance."
The next morning though, it was back to the elephant polo ground to try and help
his team of fellow journalists, sponsored by UK travel agency Kuoni, get through
the next round.