Thailand could hardly be described as a sporting nation. If you are going to measure sporting success at the Olympics, then Thailand was hardly rated as a mention at the last Olympics in London. The only medal that the country won at those Olympics was a controversial silver medal in boxing. Even though the country has minimal material success, the general population are sporting fanatics. Though gambling is illegal in the kingdom, the amount of irrational betting on their weird and wonderful sporting events has to be seen to be believed.
Muay Thai Boxing
The two popular sports that the Thais are fanatical over are Muay Thai Boxing and European Football. Muay Thai is fought in a conventional size boxing ring, it is also known as Thai Kickboxing, Thai Boxing and Tharshanning. For many it is the ultimate in unarmed combat, the purists say it requires more skill and agility than the traditional form of boxing. A champion Muay Thai boxer in Thailand is treated as a semi-God and called a hero by the general public.
Image Author: Dmitri Licience: Creative Commons
In the notorious Thai prison system, kickboxing holds a special place. They have an annual competition in the different regions of the country where the winner of the prison kickboxing tournaments gets a pardon. Even if you are convicted of being a murdering rapist and you win the fights, you are released and have a clean record as your trophy. Most foreigners find this concept hard to comprehend.
European Football, (also known as soccer) is a semi-religion in Thailand. Not playing the sport itself though, but supporting and betting on it. Actually the Thai league is relatively weak and the games struggle to draw any decent crowds. Very few Thais could tell you who won the Thai Premiership last year or name one local player , however you don’t have to look far to find someone who can tell you everything about a European team. The most popular football team is Manchester United; there is even an official “Man-U’ complex in Bangkok. It is located in ‘Soi-11’ which is in the middle of the red light area in Bangkok and either side of it are numerous chrome pole “entertainment” venues.
Thailand also host many other international competitions, ranging from hot air balloon races to prestigious golf tournaments. They also host one of the rounds of the FIVB Swatch Beach Volleyball World Tour which was held his year at Bangsaen Beach which is an hour from Bangkok as seen in the above image courtesy of www.gogoflorist.com. Although very few Thai people were interested in this event it was a hit with tourist and resident expats who enjoyed watching the fine athletes at their best.
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Gogo Florist is a Bangkok based flower delivery service covering all of Thailand.
The Awesome Sport of Muay Thai