In Thailand, the festivities are electric and the fights absolutely thrilling on Muay Thai Day. The story behind Muay Thai Day and its annual celebration is one for the history books. . .
NAIKHANOMTOM: THE HERO OF MUAY THAI
Happy belated Muay Thai Day! Yes, that’s right – we’re a few days late, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Thailand has an array of national holidays, from the international New Year’s to the Thai New Year (called Songkran). Every year on March 17, this special day is celebrated by nak muay and Muay Thai trainers everywhere.
While it’s not as widespread as, say, Christmas, and most definitely isn’t a good enough excuse to not to go to work, this day is very special and has significance to anyone who does anything related to Muay Thai. On this day, many locations hosts fights and festivals that last all day, the most popular one taking place in Ayutthaya, about two hours north of Bangkok.
Ayutthaya is an ancient city that’s known for its temples, ruins and seafood. But for the Muay Thai enthusiast, it is most notably the setting of the legendary hero named Naikhanomtom.
The legend goes that the Burmese army seized Ayutthaya (then the country’s capital) in the 18th century, and some people from Ayutthaya were captured, including a man named Naikhanomtom. Naikhanomtom was given the chance to fight for his freedom.
He impressed the Burmese king so greatly with his wai kru ram muay and aggressive, deadly fighting style that he was granted his freedom after defeating a number of Burmese fighters. Such a story has been inspiration for many documentaries and films, namely Prison Fight. (Click here to listen to episode 72 of The Muay Thai Guys podcast on Thai prison fights.)
On Muay Thai Day in Ayutthaya, Naikhanomtom is honored, his statues draped in flowers. Festivals go on for days and thrilling fights entertain the crowds. A group wai kru ram muay is performed by foreign and Thai nak muays.
Last year, Buakaw, a legend in his own right, led the group wai kru ram muay in a spectacular fashion that beautifully demonstrated the spirituality of Muay Thai. Outside of Ayutthaya, every stadium and fighter in Thailand dedicates the night to the legendary figure, and the evening is often called “Boxer’s Night.”
While you may not be in Thailand, you can commemorate this holiday by showing up to the gym and training as usual Perhaps, too, you can give special attention to your purpose in and dedication to the sport. Consider what coming the gym, and sweating, and bleeding, and struggling against incredible opposition means as a part of your larger journey in life. In short, be grateful to everyone you train with, appreciate how far you’ve come, and give your best effort to better yourself every time you step into the gym.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.