Watching a Muay Thai fight is a must-do for every sports fan looking for a real Thai experience.
There are numerous stadiums all over the country, but the biggest fights where the Thai champions compete are held in the Lumpini and Ratchadamnoen stadiums in Bangkok.
Muay Thai or Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand and immensely popular. Muay Thai fights are among the best viewed programs on Thai television.
Nothing comes close to experiencing the real thing in the stadium though where you can feel and especially hear the laden electric atmosphere full of yelling, excitement and hypnotic music. Every night a number of fights is held in either of the stadiums, in different age and weight classes.
Muay Thai rituals performed before the fight
Before the fight starts a number of rituals is performed. The fighters start with the “Wai Khru”, a ritual to pay respect to their trainers. Then, the “Ram Muay” is performed to show the skills and fighting techniques, this also servers as a warm up activity. During the rituals, the fighters wear the traditional armbands and headband, called the mongkhon, and loud traditional Thai music is played.
An evening is made up of ten matches, the fights are made up of five rounds lasting three minutes each and can get very immense and brutal. During the fights the hypnotic music keeps playing and the crowds shout to the top of their lungs. The biggest difference between western style boxing and Muay Thai boxing is that besides the punching, Muay Thai also allows kneeing, kicking and elbowing. Therefore, Muay Thai is also called the “art of the eight limbs”, since there are eight points of contact, where in western style boxing there are only two points of contact, both fists.
Many young boys in Thailand dream of becoming a famous Muay Thai boxer. Especially in the poorer rural regions, Thai boxing is a chance of escaping from poverty and supporting the family. Outside of Thailand the sport has gained popularity and is known by many people from a number of movies, such as “Kickboxer”, with Jean Claude van Damme.
If you are looking for a superb Thailand experience and an electrifying night out, go watch an evening of Muay Thai at Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen. These are the best places to experience the real Muay Thai, which is an important part of Thai culture and history.
History of Muay Thai
Although much of Muay Thai’s history was lost when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in the 18th century, it is clear that the sport is interwoven in Thai history and has been practiced for centuries.
Hundreds of years ago, when wars were fought out with close by, hand to hand fights, Muay Thai was part of military training. Back then, there were very few rules and no weight classes, time limits or safety gear.
One of the great tales of Muay Thai is the story of the boxer Nai Khanom Tom. When the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767, a number of Muay Thai boxers was captured and taken to Burma as prisoners.
During a festival the Burmese King had a boxing fight organized between the Thai boxer Nai Khanom Tom and the Burmese Lethwei champion, the Burmese martial art form. After Nai Khanom Tom defeated his opponent, the King challenged him to fight nine more Burmese Lethwei champions, that were one after an other defeated. The King was so impressed with Nai Khanom Tom’s fighting skills, that he set him free and let him return to Thailand.
During the reign of King Naresuan over the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the late 16th century, Muay Thai boxing gained in popularity and became part of training for the army. The hands of the fighters were bound with cotton to protect the boxer. On special occasions, glass was glued to the cotton on the fighter’s hands for extra damage. King Rama V was personally interested in the sport, growing the popularity of the sport even further. In the 1920’s Muay Thai was banned for a short period of time due to the high number of injuries. With the introduction of rules, time limits and boxing gloves the sport was reinstated.
Muay Thai schedule Lumpini & Ratchadamnoen
The two major boxing stadiums in Bangkok where the great fighters compete are Lumpini stadium and Ratchadamnoen stadium. Fighting days are alternated between the two stadiums, so there are fights every night.
Stadiums are closed on important Buddhist holidays.
Closest to the old town with the Royal Palace and the Chao Phraya river is the Ratchadamnoen stadium, located on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Nok. The fight schedule here is:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6.30 pm until 10.30 pm, a total of 9 fights.
Ticket prices are 1500 and 1000 Thai Baht for second and third class.
As of February 15th 2017, prices for first class ringside tickets will be 2,500 Thai Baht.
The new Lumpini stadium is located on Ram Inthra road near Don Mueang airport, about 25 kilometers North of the old stadium on Rama IV road. The schedule is:
Tuesday and Friday from 6.30 pm until 10.30 pm, a total of 9 fights.
Saturday from 4.30 pm until 9 pm, a total of 10 fights.
Ticket prices for first (ringside), second and third class are 2000, 1500 and 1000 Thai Baht respectively and 400 Baht for the upper rings (stand).
On special nights (none this week), “The Biggest Super Fights”, prices are on average 25% to 50% higher.
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