For many Farangs, the image of Thai boxing, or muaythai, is one of tuk-tuk drivers gambling in run-down old stadiums. Others may have seen a staged fight in a tourist trap, but few have experienced the real deal. All that changed last Saturday night as Elite Boxing launched its vision for the future of muaythai at the company’s Grand Opening party. Read more here..
When Farangs come to Thailand, they inevitably draw up a cultural “to do” list as a complement to their more hedonistic agenda. While most people manage to find time to ride in a tuk-tuk, eat at a street-side noodle stall and visit Wat Phra Kaew, few get to see a real muaythai fight. Sure, many tourist nightspots show live muaythai, but these fights are about as genuine as a former Thai Prime Minister’s love for the poor.
Despite a curious interest in muaythai, very few Farangs make it to the big boxing stadiums at Lumpini and Rajdamnoen simply because these venues are not foreigner friendly. If a grossly unfair dual-pricing policy isn’t bad enough, then the less than welcoming atmosphere inside these arenas is enough to discourage most foreigners, both short-term tourists and long-term expats.
Muaythai is inextricably woven into the very fabric of Thailand’s heritage, yet even the majority of Thais find themselves alienated from their national sport.
Under these circumstances, muaythai has failed to grow and meet its full potential. Enter Elite Boxing.
Elite Boxing’s goal is to take muaythai to the next level and attract a new generation of fans, both Thais and foreigners. To do this, they are combining international muaythai fights with a full program of quality entertainment at luxury venues around Thailand.
During 2010 they will host new high-profile events, such as Thailand vs Challenger and Elite Fight Night. On Saturday, I was privileged to catch a glimpse of this future at Elite Boxing’s Grand Opening party.
While preserving all the culture and traditions of muaythai, Elite Boxing is rebranding the sport, and thus opening the door to a new demographic of fans.
Judging by the long list of celebrities and farangs at Saturday’s Grand Opening party, it is a strategy that could very well pay off.