What connects Muay Thai with Thailand?
The sport and martial art of Muay Thai is extremely popular in Thailand and is, along with Sepak Takraw, a national sport. Muaythai is also deeply connected with the country’s long history and is an important and significant part of Thai culture.
Every day in Thailand, Muaythai events are broadcast live on various TV channels. (TV7, Mcot, Channel 3, etc.) These live events are usually watched in groups by the older generation. They gather together in local bars, gardens or garage huts that are especially prepared for the Muay Thai TV broadcasting. It’s a little like when your country is participating in the Olympics and everyone gets together to watch the fun on live TV.
In addition to all the exciting fights, Muaythai is also about betting. In general, gambling, such as in casinos or betting shops, is prohibited in Thailand. But gambling on the outcome of Muaythai fights is an age old tradition and is not communicated publicly. Again, the police generally tend to turn a blind eye here. Usually, bets only involve small amounts of money, 100 – 500 baht are normal. But as with everything that is prohibited, betting remains exciting and there are occasionally wagers that reach well over 1 million baht. We’ll get to that later in another blog though, where we take a closer look at the fights in the major stadiums.
Due to the daily broadcasts on TV, the fighters often become real life national heroes, the best of the best becoming Thailand’s legends. A good fighter in Thailand is also relatively well off financially. Maybe not as well off as a top soccer star, tennis player or golfer, but they generally usually earn more than the average monthly wage (13500 baht) of the Thai population. However, money alone is not the true motivation, with fighting it’s much more about honor and passion. Most of the fighters grew up in a Muay Thai family and want to do their parents, family and trainers proud. Big wins bring huge respect to all, and with the fighters growing status, the spoils of a champion get shared by all. And as fighters carry the name of their camp in the ring, it’s all about status for the team too.
We will be taking a deeper look into a Muay Thai fighters life in part 2.