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Muay Thai

Get your kicks with boxing matches and a nightly extravaganza at Asiatique

Muay Thai is the most artistic and mystical way for two men to beat the snot out of each other. As the two fighters step into the ring of Lumphini Stadium in Bangkok – the sport's Mount Olympus for regular clashes of Thai titans – they are both wearing garlands of marigolds around their necks and colourful headbands. After removing their silky robes, the two barefooted boxers walk around the ring, stopping to pray in each corner to the guardian spirit of the ring.

Then live classical music composed of two drummers hand-pummelling their instruments, another man clinking finger cymbals together, and a Thai-style oboist playing melodies serpentine enough to charm a cobra, kicks in. The two boxers begin dancing around the ring. Their slow fluid movements ape the graceful movements of Thai classical dance. Occasionally, they both kneel down, touching their foreheads to the mat in obeisance to their coaches. After the two fighters and their coaches pray together for a minute in both corners of the ring, their mentors then remove the boxers' garlands and headbands.

In a martial art that flagrantly mixes the sacred with the profane, the men in the crowd make gestures and wagers on the outcome of the match before each fight begins.

Make no bones about it, Muay Thai is brutal. Each of the 10 matches on a fight card, which begins in the early evening and lasts until 11pm, is filled with punches to the head, elbows to the jaw, knees to the rib cage, and vicious kicks to the throat, chest and calves.  
For a more family-oriented spectacle get your kicks at Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives, a nightly 70-minute spectacle with fights and action-movie stunts galore – even a love story – at Asiatique, a riverside bazaar.     

 

Published on Jan 21, 2014

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