Muay Thai Stadiums: How It Works And What You Should Know!
Beyond the rules of Muay Thai, stadiums are the biggest difference with the western muay thai. The stadiums manage to be the link between the promoters and therefore the fighters, rather than each promoter making his own belt (there are 13 in Raja and 16 in lumpinee) they box for a single title that in terms of notoriety is above any of their promotion: the stadium. A stadium makes it possible to create a common goal among dozens of camps and to legitimize the titles, it is their functioning and the importance of the belts that is explained here
A stadium belt therefore represents several organizations fighting for the same issue. It is an "overlay" that we do not have in the West but which makes it possible to unify the fighters under the same classification. Positioning itself above in terms of notoriety as any other belt of promoters, the belt of a stadium is therefore a unique title specific to each stadium but recognized by all actors, camps like nakmuays.
So here is how the muay thai stadiums works and the entire system behind, the promoters, camps, bets & categories, and the place of foreigners in all of that.
Each promoter is assigned several days in the year and it is up to him to compose his events, if the Raja or Lumpinee are open several times during the week it is the promoters who manage their gala from beginning to end.
A stadium is open 50 weeks a year, Raja 4 times a week: 200 galas, 1800 fights, 3600 fighters.
Competition is fierce between promoters but each promoter needs others to do his events: indeed many promoters are also camp owners and when they organize it is often their gym Vs the others
At the sporting level the camps are in competition with each other but when one camp/sponsor faces another camp/sponsor associated with two fighters in top category and for a belt this is what the Thai call a Top Fight.
This is one of the reasons why a fighter can face the same nakmuay of the opposing side 10 times: promoter confrontation A, revenge B, beautiful A, belt, B, Revanche A, etc.
It is also a way to assert its supremacy over another side. To compose fight cards, it is the camps that are looked at first and not the fighters. The promoters relate to geographical, historical, passive considerations between gyms etc.
In this way, each promoter creates his own identity within the stadiums. The higher a promoter climbs, the more likely (factor X) he is that the stadium will offer him to compete for a belt within his promotion.
If the promoter succeeds more and more in attracting the very good nakmuays and creating such relevant oppositions on these 3 aspects: Fighter Vs fighter weight vs. weight camps vs. camps he will be able to have one of the stadium belts contested within his promotion
Belts and categories
A stadium like Raja has 13 of them. The importance of each belt depends directly on the number of fighters at that weight who box under the "colours" of the stadium
The more fighters there are, the more valuable the belt is. It is the number of possible confrontations that increases the rating, that of a weight category changes every 2-3 years
A few years ago 135 lbs was the first category, today we are more in the 118-120 with small categories very high like 108 or 112
The reputation of a belt also takes into account the number of times it is put into play. The belt holder at a moment T does not interest the Thai people too much, what they like is that the belt has a history of confrontations, camps between them, promoters between them, revenge, several fights between the same nakmuays of the largest camps, etc. It is all these details that make the value of the belt of a stadium.
Foreigners who box in the biggest stadiums do not benefit from any right-hand pass. Some of them box as "residents" such as Youssef Boughanem, Rafi Bohic, Chadd Collins, Mathias Gallo
Getting a stranger to box in a Raja or Lumpinee on a regular basis is very difficult. You have to be the stranger that the camp has decided to promote to the stadiums: you have to be one of the best in the gym, be in the right weight category compared to the stadiums and be in a powerful camp vis-à-vis the organizations
Before even seeing the level of the fighter it is necessary that these 3 conditions are respected. Without even mentioning the technique yet, the attitude of the nakmuay is essential: he will be the only foreigner to represent the camp in the big stadiums of Bangkok.
When a foreigner boxing in two scenarios in relation to his sporting status: very passive like Youssef, offering him fights without a title could be perceived as a lack of respect; it is also a way for a stadium like Raja to officially recognize a fighter like Youssef, a mark of recognition.
For Rafi Bohic, who arrived as a foreigner representing the Singpatong behind Damien Alamos, the journey within the Lumpinee was without any gift
Youssef Boughanem like Rafi Bohic, one arriving with his list of achievements and the other creating it year after year to be given the chance to compete for a belt are Stadium Champions outside the purely sporting aspect. Their belts have a unique history as strong as that of the Thai people in other categories.
From a stadium point of view, it is not normal for a Youssef or a Rafi not to be rewarded; it is as if the stadium had "forgotten" one of the best in Thailand has its weight and this does not go with the notion of "best fighters" that rings when we talk about Raja or Lumpinee
Promote the stadium
The stadiums have therefore understood the interest, and the need, to slightly open the door to foreigners and promoters.
Raising categories that are no longer used, raising belts that no longer have champions and promoting the stadium is a good way to create a category of the stadium but where it is the foreigners who make up the majority of the ranking.
Stadiums, therefore, propose weight categories that current promoters cannot have boxed simply because they do not have the weights. Thai stadiums therefore increasingly allow foreign promoters to box for stadium belts at specific weights AND/OR to fighters who will have a mandatory title defense
These belts could become interesting categories to follow in the stadiums if the fighters who compose the rankings are foreigners defending their title regularly and Thais recognized in these heavier categories
From the Stadium's point of view, it is nothing shocking to promote the Stadium by relaunching categories that are losing ground.
Belts represent only weight categories, but each category represents a championship. Each championship tries to be the most important in the stadium, the choice of the fighters' weights determines everything; their membership in such and such a ranking, their opponents, the reputation of their belt, the number of fights they will have in the year and especially their side they will represent. In the same ranking when there are Petchyndee Pk Saenchai Jitmuengnon Fa Group etc. it is certain that the category will explode
Being the champion of a stadium in a category is valued by the opponents and the camps that make it up. Not to mention the opponent when a fighter is champion in front of camps like the Fa Group or the petchyndee it is already a sign that it is solid
A stadium outside the official classification of combatants has a whole set of additional but equally important classifications; promoters, categories, camps, day of the week, weight categories, proposed/defended/won belts etc.
A belt won within a promotion such as Petchyndee or Kiatpetch are elements as important as the weight category or the opponent for the value of the belt
What makes the value of a stadium is its ability to propose to the best promoters to bring in the best camps that will themselves box the best fighters.
This can be at the national level like Raja or Lumpinee or more at the regional level with provincial stadiums but the operating logic remains the same
A stadium serves as a label of belonging as well as a physical place to box. Bringing together several promoters under one entity and an excellent way to get everyone to agree on the legitimacy of a title.
If in the western muay there existed this "entity" to include A Stadium, which is above the importance of a promotion but which includes about ten of the most important ones, this could be a way to legitimize a title and give it a real value of unity and rarity.
Muay thai is not just a passionating sport, but also an entire culture by itself. As we have covered, muay thai stadiums have their own rules and practices that western culture often doesn’t know or don’t understand.