Women fighters making their mark in Muay Thai

In growing numbers, Thai women have become Muay Thai fighters, the Kingdom’s native style of kickboxing, and the male-dominated sport is slowly becoming more accepting of their presence and efforts.
The two most prestigious boxing rings, Lumpini and Rajadamnern in Bangkok, began staging matches between female fighters last year. Many other venues are now beginning to follow suit.
Many boxers started fighting to earn their living. “It’s a career. It’s a way to make a living,” said 19-year-old Porntip “Cha” Khamthongphanow, who was recently profiled by VICE News. Cha added that her Muay Thai training and fighting have turned her life around.
VICE also reported that “Cha has been offered a university scholarship to study sport science. She has ambitions of becoming a Muay Thai coach in the future, training other young women like her.”
“Cha is a winner,” her trainer Phichart “Lek” Phaophong said, noting she has beaten many opponents with her devastating kicks. Although she has only competed in Bangkok, Cha’s future could be much broader and lucrative, according to one of the sport’s promoters.
“Thai women can fight in Europe and different countries,” said Muay Thai promoter Sombat Thaosuwan. “They are being promoted and are winning millions or tens of millions of baht (tens of thousands of dollars) in prize money. So, stadiums in Thailand are changing their rules to be more contemporary with international standards.”
Still, the women face additional challenges in the sport because of their gender. Because of traditional beliefs and superstitions, they are not allowed to perform some rituals and only earn about a third of what men make in purses.
Photo courtesy of https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7en4d/women-muay-thai-rising-star-thailand