Muay Thai History: What you may not know.
Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing or Kickboxing, can be traced to mid-16th century Thailand. Legend has it that a famous fighter named Nai Khanomtom was captured in 1767 during the battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam. Since Nai Khanomtom was well-known for his expertise in hand-to-hand combat, the Burmese gave him an opportunity to fight for his freedom. He won the match, was freed by his captors, and then allowed to return to Siam. Nai Khanomtom was recognized as a hero. His unique fighting style, which was originally known as Siamese-Style boxing, is known today as Muay Thai. This fighting style was soon to be recognized as a national sport.
Muay Thai has also been referred to as Muay Boran, and originally was called by generic names such as Toi Muay or Muay. Muay Thai quickly became a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare. It also became a sport in the modern sense of the word, where opponents would fight in front of spectators for entertainment. The Muay sporting contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, particularly those held at temples. Competitors originally were bare-fisted, but later began wearing lengths of hemp rope around their hands and forearms. This type of match was known as Muay Khat Chueak. Along with being a popular and competitive sporting event, Muay Thai was also a component of military training and gained prominence during the reign of King Naresuan in 1560 CE.
Due to its great national popularity, Muay Thai began to garner international exposure and recognition. In its early history, Muay Thai was a secret gem, hidden within the culture of Thailand. It was during World War II that Thai soldiers stationed overseas exposed foreigners to their first good look at Muay Thai. Foreigners called Muay Thai “Siam Boxing”, since Thailand has also been called Siam at different times in history. Thai soldiers participating in WWII would practice Muay Thai amongst themselves while soldiers from Europe and America watched on with great interest. The foreign soldiers eventually asked the Thai soldiers to teach them the basics and traditions of Muay Thai.