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March 17 – World Muay Thai Day

Today (17 March) is National Muay Thai Day.

This Day is dedicated to Nai Khanom Tom, who according to legend defeated 10 Burmese fighters to win his freedom from captivity around the year 1774.

A very famous fighter was Nai Khanom Tom. Around 1774, he was captured along with other Thai prisoners, either in a skirmish or at the fall of the ancient capital of Siam of Ayutthaya.

He was brought to Yangon in Burma, where the Burmese king Mangra was holding a festival . The festivities included many forms of entertainment. King Mangra was reported to be curious to see how the various fighting styles of Burma and other countries would compare. At one point, he wanted to see how Muay Thai (or Muay Boran) would compare to the Burmese art .

Nai Khanomtom was selected to fight against the Burmese champion. Nai Khanomtom did a Wai Kru (wai khru ram muay) pre-fight dance which puzzled all of the Burmese. When the fight began, he charged out and using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees, quickly pummelled the Burmese.

The referee was reported to have stated that the Burmese opponent was distracted by the Wai Kru, so the knockout was invalid. The King then asked if Nai Khanomtom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself. He agreed and fought them all, one after the other. The last Burmese was reputed to be a great boxing teacher. Nai Khanomtom defeated them all in a superior fashion.

Other variations of this story had him also winning the release of his fellow Thais. His feat is celebrated every March 17 as “Boxer’s Day” or “National Muay Thai Day” in his honor and that of Muay Thai’s.

So take a moment to wish a fellow Nak Muay, (Student of Muay Thai), a very Happy Day and thanks for the road that was paved before us.

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