Thailand’s oldest boxing stadium makes a comeback

With new management and a new vision, Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand’s oldest boxing venue is making a comeback. Thanks in part to growing global interest in Muay Thai, the Kingdom’s own martial art.

“This is a historic boxing ring. It is the first Muay Thai arena,” said Thienchai Phisitwuttinan, CEO of Global Sport Ventures (GSV), which took over management of Rajadamnern Stadium in 2021. Since then, the arena has come “roaring back to life,” according to the Bangkok Post.

“Muay Thai is a treasure, and we can turn Muay Thai into a world-class sporting spectacle,” Thienchai said.

For the uninitiated, Muay Thai or Thai boxing, resembles Western-style boxing in that the fighters duke it out with gloves in a roped ring during three-minute rounds under the watchful eyes of a referee. Unlike Western boxing, fighters make use of kicks, knees, elbows and a variety of striking and grappling techniques.

In some ways, it lies in a midpoint between Western boxing and Mixed Martial Arts.

Rajadamnern Stadium was built in 77 years ago at the end of World War II. It is situated in Rattanakosin, the old quarter of Bangkok, not far from some of the Kingdom’s most famous temples and palaces. Its antiquated design and smaller capactiy led to it being less well known than its cross-town counterpart Lumpini Stadium.

However, Thienchai and his team used Rajadamnern’s age to advantage in its redesign. The stadium’s new look could be described as vintage with touches of Art Deco, prized qualities these days when Western-style boxing matches are often staged in glitzy modern casinos.

“The stadium has undergone modernization so that it resembles a New York City Broadway theatre in the front. Despite being traditional, it is contemporary,” Thienchai said.

He believes that Muay Thai’s full potential has yet to be realized.

“People from other countries all agree that this is the pinnacle of standing combat sports. This is Thailand’s soft power and it is impressive. Both Rajadamnern Stadium and the promoters share the same goal – the globalisation of Muay Thai. Everyone is pushing towards this objective. The arena or stage is the first step,” he added.

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