Sport in ThailandAndrew Mason
Undoubtedly the most famous Thai sport is Muay Thai, which is Thailand’s unique version of boxing. This sport, which originated in Thailand, is a type of martial art and is now practiced in countries all over the world. Known as The Art of the Eight Limbs, Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport.
Unlike Western boxing, in Muay Thai the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively. The origins of Muay Thai come from Muay Boran (ancient boxing), which was the type of unarmed combat used by Siamese soldiers hundreds of years ago. Muay Thai has been practiced as a sport in its own right for centuries, and in fact the first written documents describing the Muay Thai appeared in Chiang Mai around the start of the 15th century.
There are many strict rules governing public Muay Thai matches. For example, only boxing shorts are permitted to be worn, and the colour depends on which corner the fighter is in; red, pink, or maroon or with a red stripe for the red corner; blue, bright blue, black for the blue corner.
Long hair and/or beards are prohibited and amulets can only be worn on the arm or waist and covered by material.
Both fighters perform the Wai Kru (paying respect to the teacher) before the start of the first round, and a special dance called Ram Muay (accompanied by the appropriate Thai traditional music.
A Muay Thai matches last for five rounds; 3 minutes per round with a 2 minute break between each round.
Muay Thai matches can be scene all over Thailand, especially in tourist areas, where small rings are often set up in go-go bars.
A great place to enjoy a match is Lumpini Stadium, where matches are generally of a very professional level.
Another uniquely Thai sport is takraw which is very similar to volleyball except that it uses an odd looking rattan ball and players are allowed to touch the ball using their feet, knees, chest and head. Traditional Western-style boxing is also very popular.
Groups of people (usually boys and young men) can be seen in the streets all over Thailand playing this highly addictive and entertaining sport.
There are even murals at Wat Phra Kaew that show the Hindu god Hanuman playing takraw in a ring with a troop of monkeys.
All you need to play is a special rattan ball, a net and an area of roughly 13 m x 6 meters free from all obstacles.
Football is naturally very popular in Thailand and many people worship teams from the English Premier League such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Thailand also has its own Thai League.
Golf is also quite popular and there are many beautiful golf courses throughout the country.