Muay Thai at Chiangmai Boxing Stadium
Last night, PM Tours arranged for me to attend a Muay Thai fight-night at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium. Tickets were easily arranged a couple of hours before, with the kind help of the lovely Miki. Pim of PM Tours joined me because apparently this night was special; there were a number of belts and prizes being contested that had attracted some really good fighters!
We arrived at the arena about 10 minutes before the first fight. A train of Song Than's (Red Cabs) was dropping off locals and tourists alike and a small crowd had gathered before the venue. We drank a beer but decided to go quickly go inside, to get our first taste of the atmosphere that night. The venue was packed! Only some of the ringside seats (which you can purchase for 1000 baht) were unoccupied. Thais occupied most of the stands, with most of the tourists sitting in the VIP section, a special platform raised up, with comfortable seats, from where you get the best view of the action and free drinks.
We were seated on the main stands, although the promotor said he would try to get us some special seats later. It was a blast! We were right in the middle of all the gamblers; local guys that offer to bet against you in the next fight. These aren't professionals; they just like to bet, and of course particularly like to try their odds against an 'unknowing' tourist like me. I decided not to try my luck, but first see what this was all about, and perhaps get some insight into how you could tell which guy was going to win. My friend, who had been before, told me that he looked for the meanest looking guy with the strongest legs; Muay Thai is a very tough sport which is a lot about kicking rather than punching.
The first bout involved a patient veteran who faced a youngster who liked to charge in and deliver a flurry of punches. At first we thought the youngster could win, but soon the veteran's calmness and measured kicks started scoring points, and he eventually won. More fights followed and I started to appreciate the skills involved in Muay Thai; it's more about strategy and skills than about strength, although all fighters look extremely tough physically. We saw two knockouts; one technical one where one fighter hit the other on his knee so hard you could hear the impact from the stands, and the guy on the receiving end didn't get up, and had to be helped out of the ring. The second was spectacular; a well-placed high kick hit a fighter on the temple and he hit the ground. Trying to get up, grabbing the ropes, his eyes were rolling around, and the referee stopped the fight. Of course, the crowd went wild at that one; an almost deafening roar!
After the second fight, the promotor had come and told us to follow, which we did. He walked us all the way to the ringside seats! Then, at the start of the next fight, he told us to join him in the ring, where we gave the two incoming fighters these yellow wreaths (see the picture) and posed with them for a photo! After fights, the winning fighter would also pose with fans.
I had a great time, and although I'm not someone that is really into fighting-sports, I'm definitely coming back to see more Muay Thai if I have the chance! Thanks for PM Tours for setting up an amazing experience!
Chiangmai Boxing stadium has fights on every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at PM Tours. Please contact us for more information and booking.
Blog post by Frederik Voute