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Muay Thai

Thai boxing

Muay Thai, or Thai kick boxing, is one of the most popular sports in Thailand and it is growing in popularity worldwide. The sport’s origins can be traced back to the kingdom of Ayuthaya and a time when the normally peace-loving Thai people were having to defend their land from aggressive powers. As part of their military training Thai soldiers developed a form of hand to hand combat which was well suited to the kind of battles they were fighting. Over time it became a requirement for Thai men to take up training in this martial art. King Naresuan the Great (1555-1605), one of the country’s most celebrated warriors, is believed to have been an excellent boxer himself, and it was he who made Muay Thai an essential part of military training. Another milestone in the history of Muay Thai came after the fall of Ayuthaya in 1767. The Burmese captured a great Thai fighter, Nai Khanom Tom, and took him back to Burma. In 1774 he was picked to fight before the Burmese king and defeated ten of Burma’s top boxers in a row. As a reward he was freed and returned home to Thailand a hero.

Since then the sport has been a part of the national culture and top boxing matches are televised and watched live by millions. There are a number of rituals associated with the sport and these together with the combat itself make it a great, if sometimes brutal, spectacle. Every bout combines ancient ritual with incredible physicality, grace and fierce competition. As a result many visitors who wouldn’t ordinarily watch a sporting event whilst on holiday, and might not even be boxing fans at home, seek out a Muay Thai match for the rich experiences it offers.

Where to see Muay Thai

When starting out prospective boxers take their first steps in the provincial arenas. Many get their first bouts at makeshift rings on the amateur circuit at temple fairs and some engage in demonstration shows like those at the tourist centres of Phuket, Koh Samui & Chiang Mai. Better and more experienced boxers will get the chance, if good enough, to fight in one of Bangkok’s two great stadiums. On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, fighting takes place at Ratchadamnoen Stadium. Otherwise on Tuesday and Friday-Saturday, Lumphini Stadium holds the prize fights. These are the bouts that are seen televised in bars, restaurants and shops nationwide. Nothing beats watching the action live and if you are even a little bit interested in the sport it makes for a good evening out.

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