Muay Thai has progressed significantly over the past 100 years. Due to the noticable national popularity, it began to garner international recognition and exposure.
In World War II, after formally being introduced to Muay Thai, foreigners named it
Siam Boxing, as Thailand was formerly Siam. The French labeled it as
Le Sport Orient or the fighting style of the orient. Soldiers from Europe and America would watch attentively as the Thai soldiers practiced Muay Thai amongst
themselves. They were so impressed with the style of fighting that they asked the Thai soldiers to teach them the fundamentals and traditions of Muay Thai. As it
became more popular internationally, the rules began to change so it could be better organized and governed like established sports such as boxing. In the 1920's,
rings were introduced to replace open courtyards, which ultimately planted the roots of modern Muay Thai.
Gloves similar to those used in boxing matches replaced the old horse hide, hemp rope or leather bindings and a hard-cover groin protector was added as extra
protection from brutal kicks and knees. The first formal rules were introduced to the sport of Muay Thai after WW II ended. Fights were divided into 5 rounds with
a time limit on each; a clock was used to determine the length of each round instead of a coconut shell with holes sinking in a barrel of water, and major Muay Thai
stadiums were erected in large cities thoughout the country (namely Bangkok, Sukothai and Chiang Mai). Bangkok’s Lumpini Stadium is now almost considered the
holy grail to the masses of Muay Thai fighters, local and foreign.
However unlike boxing in Europe and America Muay Thai boxers earn very little. On average a Muay Thai fighter will have a match every three or four weeks and earn around 6000 baht – not really enough to support themselves let alone any family they may have
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