Original Article in Spanish https://esquinathai.es/mujeres-boxeadoras/
Written by EsquinaThai
Muay Thai is for women just as much as it is for men, this is something that becomes clearer day by day. Unfortunately, like in some fields of life, the way for women has started to open later and with some extra difficulties. This is the reason why it is interesting to know and analyze how is the situation of the ‘Nak Muay Ying(s)’ (female muay thai fighters) whose number and skills are increasing in Thailand and in the whole World.
In this article we are going to focus our attention on: the current situation of the female native Thai boxers from when they are young. Foreign women who fight in Thailand, which number is growing consistently and that often compete against to opponents with a much greater experience.
SPECIAL SITUATION FOR FEMALE BOXERS
In Thailand, girls start fighting young and, just like man, fight often during their childhood and perhaps this is the moment when their paths are somewhat even. When they are young and fight in small or medium events the opportunities are similar and so are the salaries, in some cases. The difference becomes bigger when they are older get to elite level. In most important stadiums in Bangkok, it is forbidden for female to fight and that’s where most male boxers start earning real money and become renowned. Click here (spanish) to see how a fighter’s purse can change.
This is the reason why a lot of female top Thai fighters are barely 18 years old. It is the time when they have the best opportunities to fight and practice. There are a lot of promising fighters who retire at 20 years old because of the lack of opportunities and then, they focus on the family, studies or jobs.
Despite of the little advances, women in Thailand still suffer some slightly absurd traditions which anyway need to be respected. It can be emphasized the fact that female fights are not allowed in the most important stadiums. It means that they lose the opportunity to make a name for themselves, earn higher salaries and therefore, prolong theirs sport careers.
In addition, woman must not touch the mongkol, unless it is hers. If you pay attention, when a woman enters the ring, she never will wear the mongkol because she has to pass under the lowest rope. Men, on the other hand, enter to the ring over the top rope and always wearing the mongkol. Girls have to pass under because of her ‘impurity’ and then, the trainer will put her the mongkol on the head once they are on the ring. The mongkol must never pass under the ropes of the ring.
These types of things have the explanation in the prehistoric belief that women represent impurity because of their period because they are woman. Therefore, it is forbidden for them enter to the ring over the ropes, touch the ring itself (in some stadiums) or amulets, go to a temple without being fully dressed and covered,etc.
WOMEN IN THAILAND AND THE SENSE OF FEMININITY
Furthermore, in Thailand women strongly value the concept of femininity, style and female grace. It is related to the social stereotype from some decades ago when women had to be delicate, smiling and pretty. This is curious because Thailand is a country where there are a lot of homosexual women, a lot of them are known as “tomboys”. In spite of it, the female boxers who are not included in the “tomboys” group, are characterized by their femininity, the grace of the movements and the coquettish style which is the opposite of being real beasts when they fight.
STYLE AND TECHNIQUE
Perhaps this is the reason why female boxers in Thailand do not usually have an aggressive style, which is focused on attacking, using elbows or other strikes in the short distance, common in the muay mat style. Don’t get me wrong, there’s girls that fight in many different styles but in general female fighters are characterized by their technique, clear movements and the skill of combining the female grace in the ring with the dangerous strikes.
It’s understandable that, in a society where women stand out for their faces rather than their brain, female Thai fighters avoid short distance blows, especially elbows. They prefer the fimeu style, kicking and keeping control of the fight. This is well notable in Chiang Mai, city in the north of Thailand which it is known for the huge amount of female fighters, thai as well as foreigners. Up there almost every night there’s at least one women, which stand out for usually fighting near the ropes, controlling the distance, kicking and defending the score.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOREIGN WOMEN
The amount of foreign women who, just like their male counterparts, come to Thailand to fight is increasing more and more. Foreign girl fighters have more opportunities to compete and win against Thai girls with a lot of experience and with a name. It is uncommon that a foreign girl with a few fights could win against top Thai girl, but nowadays, there are a lot of foreigners who, with a bit more experience, are facing the best of their weight classes. For example the case of Yolanda Schmidt who won against Chommanee Sor Taehiran in the finale of ‘Muay Thai Angels Fight’ in 2017.
Another example is Lisa Brierly, who got the victory in an exciting battle against the several times World champion Zaza Sor Aree. There are many examples of women who with hard work and training are capable of fighting with the tops of their weight classes in a after short period of time.
With ‘short period of time’ I mean after many years of training back at home, and several months in Thailand. That’s a short time if we compare it with the time thai girls spend training and the number of fights that they have in their career. There are not a lot of lucky girls who get the victory against a Thais. But now can you tell me which fighter won against Superbank? Petchbunchu? Panpayak? Littewada? It is true that there are male foreign fighters who beat strong Thai opponents but normally it with 2-3 kg of advantage, maybe with the Thai not in shape or almost retired or fighting in a foreign country with rules similar to K1.
JUSTIFY YOUR ANSWER
Like the told me in high school, you have to justify your opinions. What I sayd in the last section is not mysterious, no messages with feminist or sexist tone (as each one would see them). The only reason is that male fighters when they are 20 years old they are in their best physical shape are fighting monthly in Bangkok. They are fighting at the highest level, training extremely hard and getting more and more experience. Rarely, a foreign male fighter comes to Thailand and in a couple of years he can fight TOP Thais, let alone beat them.
Without lies, there are a lot of foreigners who fight against good Thais, but the majority are far away from facing the best of their weight class. It is normal, we are competing with people who have been training for years and have hundreds of fights.
Like I mentioned before, in the case of women it is different because for girls with 20 years old, in the best physical moment, the opportunities are over. Perhaps they will fight in some event or show which takes place sporadically. A lot of women are focused on working or studying and they only will fight when the opportunity appears but with lighter and less strict training.
Foreign women arrive to Thailand very strong, with more or less experience in their home country and with a determined mindset which is focused only on trainings, without responsibilities, only eating, training and sleeping. This is the reason why, with effort and time they can face top fighters. Although this does not guarantee nothing. They must train hard and the majority will not get this moment of glory, but the possibility is higher than in the case of men.
STEP BY STEP THINGS ARE CHANGING
Thanks to the foreign female fighters and theirs effort, step by step, televised shows are starting to include female fights, because they can showcase the most prestigious Thai fighters in difficult and close fights.
This is a reason and motivation for the foreign fighters in order to go to Thailand to train, something that at the beginning could be scary. This means fighting more often, higher level events and better salaries.
Personally, I like fight between women, I like the style and I have seen some of them whose punch and speed are dreamt by a lot of men fighters. Also, it is important that these opportunities increase for the girls who are now taking on Muay Thai. I hope in a few years to see them fighting in the best stadiums in Bangkok, earning more money, travelling around the world and helping their families, just like men do.
Thank you for reading, like always, share if you liked it. Hoping it will serve as inspiration to some of you and to solve doubts that you could have for your next trip to Thailand!