Muay Thai, also commonly referred to as Thai Boxing, is one of the most popular combat sports in the world. The sport is often referred to as the art of eight limbs as it makes use of eight points of contact, the shins, elbows, fists, and knees. The sport originated in Thailand and spread throughout the world during the 20th century. The sport is similar to other Asian martial arts such as Muay Lao and Lethwei.
History Of Muay Thai
Historical evidence indicates that Muay Thai was practiced in Thailand since at least the mid-18th century. One of the earliest recorded Muay Thai fighters was Nai Khanomtom, a Siamese fighter who was a prisoner of the Burmese. Nai was forced to compete against Burmese fighters in exchange for his freedom. Nai competed against 10 Burmese fighters and was able to knock them out which impressed the Burmese king enough that he let all the Siamese prisoners go. The fighting style practiced by Nai became famous throughout the country and was declared a national sport. In Thailand, March 17th of each year is celebrated as Nai Khanomtom day to commemorate the contribution of Nai Khanomtom to the development of Muay Thai. In the past, the combat sport was referred to as Toi Muay.
Muay Thai In The 19th Century
In the 19th century, the number of people who practiced Muay Thai in Thailand increased which was mainly attributed to King Chulalongkorn rising to power. The king had a great personal interest in the sport and at the time was one of the most famous practitioners. For much of the king's reign during the 19th century, Thailand was at peace, and Muay Thai was mainly used for recreation, and physical exercise.
Modernization Of Muay Thai
The modernization of Muay Thai began during the early 20th century, particularly in 1910. King Chulalongkorn formalized the sport when he awarded three muen to victorious fighters who had fought during his son's funeral fights. In 1913, Suan Kulap College began offering British boxing, and by 1919 the college was teaching Muay Thai and British boxing as a single sport. The college also boasted of having the first permanent Muay Thai ring which was constructed in 1921 and was also used for British Boxing. The first international style stadium for Muay Thai was constructed in 1923 close to the Lumpinee Park. King Rama VII also contributed to the development of Muay Thai as he published a set of rules for the sport. During the early 20th century, referees were also introduced to enforce the rules that had been put in place. Fighters from Thailand also began wearing protective equipment particularly during fights against foreigners. In fights between Thai fighters, they used traditional rope-binding that increased the effectiveness of the strikes. The rope bindings were outlawed after the death of a fighter during a match. The government of Thailand also contributed to modernizing the sport through the establishment of governing bodies to sanction the sport.
Famous Muay Thai Practitioners
Some Muay Thai fighters have become famous all over the world such as Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn, and Samart Payakaroon. Dieselnoi was considered the best knee striker in Muay Thai while Samart was considered the best overall fighter in the sport.