When one of our good friends invited my wife Jenn and I to join him on his vacation to Thailand, it was an offer we could not refuse. Once we booked everything and knew the dates, one of the first things I researched was how to attend a Muy Thai fight in Bangkok. Being a big MMA fan I knew I could not pass this opportunity up. My real concern was how to convince Dan and Jenn to spend 2000 Baht or ~$66. Luckily all the reviews we read promised a very fun and authentic experience. They did however warn of scams to get you better seats.
As we arrived we took that advice to heart, maybe a bit too much. We where approached by a lady who had proper idea yet we still did not trust her. Eventual we agreed to sit in the expensive ring side foreigner seats, a decision we would not regret. Not only did we have a great view, but it we avoided the rowdy and very aggressive Thai fans. To say that the Thai people are passionate for Muy Thai is a huge understatement. Take how we feel about hockey and multiply it by 10.
Muy Thai is a religion. There is even a pre fight ceremony. It was first performed by Nai Khanomtom to pay his respects to his teachers and ancestors, as well as the spectators. There is a live band that plays during all the matches! If the match is slowing down the band will pick up the beat in hopes of picking up the fighters pace. The refs also encourage the fighters to engage so the pace of the fights is really fast. They fighters are very flexible and man can the kick high. All the matches we saw did go the distance, but they where all very entertaining. One thing I did not enjoy was that they did not really make a big deal out of who the winners was. They quickly just point to one fighter and then everybody goes back to the locker room. It is very cool as the family and friends are basicly right in the corner while the fight is going on. They also cheer very loud for every marginal hit trying to influence the ring side judges.
Now while all of this is going on the locals are all betting on the fight. How do they do this you ask? There is no betting counter or anything like that. They shout out and make hand singles to the guys on the floor level. The guys taking the bets don’t write anything down! They remember everything in their heads then collect or pay at the end of the fight. Just because that is not crazy enough, the odds for the fighters change after each round. It is hard to describe the noise of all the locals shouting to the guys taking bets on the floor level. Since there can be lots of money involved the locals cheer extra loud.
All I can tell you is that this is a good use of your time and money if you are ever in Bangkok and I would highly recommend it.