Thai Kickboxing for Visitors—Stadium Fights and Muay Thai Class
In 2004, after Jaroenthong finished his stellar career in the ring at Lumpinee stadium, he opened muay Thai gymnasiums in Bangkok, Khao Lak and Koh Samui. He is now happy to call himself teacher and share his experience and love for this iconic sport of Thailand.
Please tell us about yourself.
I come from Nakon Si Tammarat in southern Thailand. My older brother introduced me to muay Thai when I was 12 years old. Our teacher started the first muay Thai camp (Kiatbanchong) in our area. We trained using sand bags to make our bodies strong and our skin tough. I won my first fight after one year and earned 100 baht. After one more year, I went to Bangkok to study at high school and muay Thai school at the Kiatbanchong gym of Bangkok.
What boxing titles have you won and which one was the most memorable?
I was champion of Lumpinee three times in weight classes 115, 126 and 135 and world champion of the WMC belt against Ramon Dekker of the Netherlands (an 8-time world champion). My overall match record is 152 with 137 won, 2 tied and 13 lost.
My most memorable fight was in 2012 against Samart Payakaroon. It was an exhibition fight at the Omnoi Stadium 20 years after our first fight when he beat me by KO (knock out). My best memories are from 1988 because I had many successes that year.
Muay Thai is an exciting and popular tourist attraction in Bangkok. How can a visitor go see muay Thai in action?
There are muay Thai fights every nights starting at 6:30 pm! The two major stadiums in Bangkok are Lumpinee (new stadium out near Don Muang domestic airport) and Ratchadamnoen (aka Rajadamnern) near Dusit Palace in the old part of Bangkok. There are also many gyms or training schools that offer muay Thai classes, but the stadium fights are very popular with foreigners.
What are the rules for spectators to understand a muay Thai fight?
Thai kickboxing uses knees, feet, elbows and fists to fight. In the ring, the boxers wear gloves, dress shorts and a groin protector. They fight for 5 rounds of 3 minutes each with 2 minutes rest between each round. There are 3 judges to score the fight and one referee in the ring. The victory lane is for the winner who lands the best strikes that cause a strong effect on his opponent.
The beginning of the fight always starts with a wai kru, a short ceremony for the two fighters to pay respect to all the ancestral teachers of muay Thai and ask for a blessing.
You are a teacher and coach now. How does one train at a muay Thai gym and what are the most important things to learn?
Thai boxing teaches how to get a strong body and use boxing to protect us. The tradition needs to be available to all Thai children. For the Thai people, muay Thai is an art that makes us very proud and a traditional culture that needs to be preserved.
For training at my gyms, we teach skills in footwork, self-protection and balance. To gain strength and learn technique, our students practice punching and kicking pads and the bag. Aerobic conditioning such as jogging, sprinting and skipping rope is also very important to gain top fitness for boxing.
My gyms are very popular with the ladies because muay Thai power comes as much from technique as raw power. Women can get fit and strong without developing bulky muscles.
For more information about arranging tickets to attend muay Thai fights at the Bangkok stadiums or to join an introductory kickboxing class, please contact to [email protected]