Muay Thai fans visiting Bangkok should check out one or both the major Muay Thai stadiums on fight nights, both the historic Rajadamnern stadium and the newer Lumpinee stadium host some of the best fighters in the city with some even traveling from overseas to fight in the stadium.
The 1st one is the Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium, 1st open to public back in December 1945 and located at Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, the stadium is one of the two major stadiums for modern Muay Thai. With it’s own ranking system and championship title up to Middleweight, the stadium draws a steady flow of fans every Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It was such an honor for me to be able to go behind the scene on one such nights while I was in Bangkok that the experience will forever etch in my memory.
When I got to Rajadamnern, I was greeted by Sara, the chief Marketing Officer of the stadium (click on her name to read the interview I had with her), was given a quick brief on what's happening for the night and got myself an officer's pass and off I go. Avoiding the huge crowd at the main entrance, I entered the stadium via the fighter’s entrance, I felt like a gladiator walking into the centre of the ring for a fight with fans around the stadium cheering loudly for blood.
The venue itself gave off a very gritty and raw atmosphere which definitely add on to the adrenaline of the fighters. I still get the chills just thinking back at the few hours I spend in the stadium. From the atmosphere is very tense within the changing room where the coaches is constantly repeating over the fight strategies to the waiting area where spectators can walk up to size up the fighters 1 fight from their turn. Yes, these fighters stands on 2 platform under a spotlight so that betting spectators can check them out to see who gives off a more competitive vibe.
The fighters I talked to after their fights confirms my theory, as when they prepare for their fights, the noise that seeps into the changing area kept building up and it gets louder as they step towards the weight-in/gear counter to collect their shorts and gloves. Even as they step into the ring, they have to force themselves to look angry and forceful despite their nervousness for the 1 who cracks first will normally lose even before the fight begins. Even when they perform the Wai Khru to pay homage to their deities and elders, they spend the time to also size up and intimidate their opponent. Such is the art form of Wai Khru that what we see as a beautiful dance between 2 dancers mask the underlining taunting that the two of them throw at each other.
Only way to walk out of the ring at the end of the fight is either to knock the opponent out or to last the 5 rounds and win or lose by hit counts. What interest me throughout the fights is the gambling that takes place at the 2nd level of the stadium where betting are placed using hand signals, just like the way it is in the Stock exchange. Because occasional fights do break out among the gamblers, foreigners are advised to occupy the more expensive ringside seats. Even though the stadium’s security is managed by the Military Police officers, there will be times when the fights get so out of hand that it’s hard for the MPs to do anything if a tourist is caught in the middle of it. If you like such ‘Blood Sport’ kind of environment, this is the place to go for your Muay Thai entertainment.
Rajadamnern Stadium1, Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd.,
Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok,
Phone : +66 2 281 4205
Ticket Price: Please refer to this website.