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Muay Thai Boxing


What appears as a fight at first glance turns out, on closer examination, to be a martial art  practiced with fixed rituals and rules. This must have impressed the former boxing champion Muhammad Ali. In the mid-seventies, he only did three rounds before he went down against the former Thai champion.
Thai boxing emerged from the soldiers‘ self-defense training in the Ayutthaya period and represents a mixture of karate, taekwondoo and western boxing, where almost everything is permitted. Fists, feet, shoulders and elbows may be used in any matter in order to incapacitate the opponent. However, amongst the things that are not allowed are judo techniques, head butting, spitting and biting as well as kicking an opponent who is already knocked out.
To minimize the risk of injury the boxers now wear 12-ounce boxing gloves; interlaced gloves were commonly used until 1940, and most of them were made with a sewn-in binding made of bits of broken glass. Before the fight the barefooted boxers who wear a sacred cord with amulets for protection around the head and the upper arms practice ritual exercises and dances, which are accompanied by the grinding music of a traditional orchestra. With this “boxing dance”, they do not only pay homage to their school of martial arts and their trainer, but they also try to intimidate their opponent by a successful pre-fight ritual  to take the wind out of his sails.
Professional spectators are able to recognize the boxer's performance and form on the day as well. During the fight, the orchestra tries to accompany the events in the ring with a rhythmic music from flutes, drums and cymbals or even sometimes to stimulate the fighters.  However, this music usually is drowned out by the screams of the spectators toward the end of the fight.  A Thai boxing contest is divided into five rounds, each three minutes long; the winner receives a cash or non-cash prize.
Everywhere in the country there are boxing arenas, the most important ones, however, are in Bangkok. The traditional Thai boxing venues are Lumpini stadium, the Radjadamoen stadium and the "Grand Palace". In both arenas every second evening boxing contests take place alternately.
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