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Thai Boxing
By Audrey Goh

Also known as Muay Thai to the locals, Thai boxing is a traditional martial art of Thailand and more often than not, gambling is very much a part of it. In one evening of fights, there are usually no fewer than eight fights, with the fifth fight being the main event.

The history of Thai Boxing dates as far back as Thai culture itself, which is around 2000 years ago. It started from a military code named Chupasart that required every able bodied person to aid and fight for their leaders. During the reign of King Naresuan the Great in the 16th century, Muay Thai was then used as a training tool for foot soldiers since many battles in those days were settled with hand-to-hand combat.

Today, the tradition continues to play an important role in the sport of Thai Boxing. There is one strict ruling, however. NO woman is ever allowed to step into the canvas ring for fear that her influence will destroy the strength and skill of the boxers. Contestants must also wear a charm, a small Buddha or even a magic amulet, around one or both upper arms. It is normally inserted in a thick cord and may be kept on during the fight.

The fight kicks off with the Raam Muay--a “fighters” dance performed around the ring to a particular type of music. The Raam Muay is to honor and respect the boxer’s trainer, his religion, family, sport, and the fighting spirits. According to the gamblers and spectators, it is possible to tell how a fighter would perform simply by watching his Raam Muay.

The fight begins following that short praying ritual. The background music changes tempo according to the mood of the evening. Hence, the music will increase in volume and speed as the fight progresses. This is supposed to encourage the fighters to fight on. The excitement induced by the music coupled with the frenzied yells of the supporters makes the fight a thrilling event.

Although “boxing” may be a part of its name, it is dramatically different from its western counterpart. Thai Boxing allows the fighter to use almost every part of his body except the head as a weapon. The deadliest part of the body would be the legs. However, the legs are the most graceful part of the fight and to watch a fighter use his legs is like observing a graceful dancer. Again, this is further enhanced by the traditional music played throughout the event.

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