Muay Thai is one of the popular martial arts nowadays together with karate, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, and many others. Today, Thai boxing is now one of the most popular sports among Thai teenagers, but it was not always so for Thailand's national sport. In this article we will explore the history and origins of the sport, its rise to popularity not only in Thailand but other countries as well, and how online betting contributed to this status-quo. Furthermore, we’re going to explore the subtle differences between Muay Thai and other contact sports or martial arts disciplines. So, if you want to learn more about this martial art and how it became popular all around the world, check out the information below.
What is Muay Thai?
If this is your first contact with Muay Thai ( or Thai Boxing as it is often referred to ) it’s good to start by defining it. It’s a combat sport and martial art that is also known as “the art of eight limbs” due to the combination of fists, elbows, shins, and knees that the fighters can use to strike. While Muay Thai is generally a stand-up striking contact sport, it also contains various clinching techniques.
Thai Boxing History
The origins of this martial art can be traced all the way back to the 16th century in the Siam kingdom. It was introduced as a peace-time martial art practiced by King Naresuan’s soldiers. A French diplomat, Simon de la Loubere was the first one to write about the sport in the book “Du Royaume de Siam'' that he published in 1688. Muay, as it was first called, slowly became an integral part of local celebrations and festivals, especially the ones taking place at temples.
The sport got a huge boost in popularity in Thailand during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868 to 1910), also referred to as the golden age. The king was personally interested in the sport and the country wars at peace so he promoted it as a means of recreation, self-defense, and physical exercise. He was also responsible for formalizing Muay Thai by awarding prizes to the victors that fought at the funerals of his son. From this point on, the sport evolved naturally in Thailand with the first permanent ring to open in Siam in 1921. Referees were also introduced, together with gloves and groin protectors.
Between 1980 and 1990 the sport roise at the height of its popularity. The prizes could go up to 200,000 baht for big matches and gambling was legal around the ring which drew a lot of participants and punters. Later on, the inclusion of Muay Thai in the offer of big online bookmakers also helped popularize the sport around the world and extend its boundaries.
Muay Thai Outside Thailand
As previously mentioned, Muay Thai’s increased popularity in Thailand helped the sport expand to other countries as well. More than 3,800 Thai boxing gyms function around the world (not counting the ones in Thailand) and that’s everything you need to know about how well-received the sport is in other regions. The neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Malaysia were the first countries that adopted this martial art. However, Europe is no stranger of Muay Thai either.
Naturally, France is one of the countries that adopted Muay Thai from an early stage. However, Holland, Japan and Italy also produced some exceptional fighters during the years. Names like Remy Bonjasky, Badr Hari, or Semy Schilts will definitely sound familiar to any K1 or MMA fan
Is Muay Thai a Dangerous Sport?
Like any contact sport, Muay Thai has its dangerous sides. Especially when talking about professional fighters, the danger of injuries or knock-outs is always present. However, that’s part of the sport as well and, in some cases, it’s what the fans love the most. However, if you practice Muay Thai on an amateur level or you’re just training, the risks are minimal. No matter if you want to go pro or you’re just exploring this martial art for self-defense or physical exercise, you should always wear protective equipment. Sparring, for example, should always be done using hand wraps, gloves, gloves, a groin guard and even a mouth guard.
How to Bet on Muay Thai ?
We’ve already mentioned how online betting and the big bookmakers helped make Muay Thai popular in regions outside Asia. It’s time to address this aspect once again, this time exploring things from the punters’ perspective. In Thailand, most of the betting is done at the stadiums since Muay Thai is one of the few sports where gambling is permitted in the country.
Also, the sports’ popularity makes it easy for betting enthusiasts to find online bookmakers that offer good odds and diverse markets for Muay Thai. However, if you’re new to online betting, the best approach is to do some research first. And if you don’t have the time or expertise needed to check bookmakers yourself, there’s an easier way to do it. Anyone who really wants to get into betting on this sport should carefully study the local tips given by ThaiBets365 and especially their article on Thai boxing rules.