Women can now fight at famous Thai boxing arena
For the first time ever, women fighters climbed through the ropes and rumbled at the legendary Lumpini Stadium in Bangkok, considered the Mecca of Muay Thai, the traditional Thai martial art sometimes referred to as kickboxing.
In the first night of boxing at Lumpini since the stadium was closed last year as part of COVID-19 control measures, 21-year-old Thai fighter Kullanat Ornok defeated Celest Muriel Hansen of Australia by decision in a bruising bout.
Although televised, the night’s action took place before empty seats because COVID-19 prevention measures, while eased in Bangkok, are still in effect. Lumpini, one of the most popular attractions in the Thai capital for tourists, will reopen to spectators in January 2022.
The evening was historic and groundbreaking because it was the first time that women had set foot inside Lumpini’s main ring. Muay Thai is governed by ancient traditions, rituals and superstitions, one of which is that the presence of females violates the sacred space of the ring and will displease the powerful spirits that some believe are present during contests.
Nonetheless, Thailand has always had some women who engage in Muay Thai, although just as in Western or international boxing, the sport has long been dominated by men.
Muay Thai is the Kingdom’s national sport. It bears similarities to international boxing in that it uses a roped ring, three-minute rounds, has a referee and the fighters wear gloves. But unlike international boxing, fighters can throw kicks, and strike opponents with knees and elbows.
Some Mixed Martial Arts champions have studied Muay Thai.
While resistance to allowing women to fight was muted, Lumpini’s executives may have a tougher task enforcing a new rule upon reopening: the stadium is banning bookmakers and gamblers from its premises.