Muay Thai Festival in Ayutthaya

Muay Thai is truly an international sport these days as people all around the world compete in this ancient form of boxing. However, the spiritual home is definitely here in Thailand with the home base being in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Yesterday, 350 boxers from 35 different countries came together at Wat Mahathat to take part in the Wai Khru Ceremony. They came to pay respect to their teachers, and to pay homage to the legendary Muay Thai folk hero, Nai Khanom Tom.

Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and Ayutthaya, the home of its legendary hero is the stronghold of Muay Thai. According to legend, Nai Khanom Tom was captured by the Burmese after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. Along with other prisoners, he was taken back to Burma. During a Buddhist festival he was selected to fight in a tournament that was put on to see which forms of boxing were the best; Thai or Burmese. Nai Khanom Tom fought ten Burmese boxers in a row without pause and defeated them all.

The Wai Khru Muay Thai Ceremony is the most important date on the calendar for Muay Thai boxers from around the world. They come together in the days leading up to National Muay Thai Day, which is on 17th March, to pay respect to their teachers, and to pay homage to the legendary Muay Thai folk hero, Nai Khanom Tom. This takes place during the annual three day Thai Martial Arts Festival in Ayutthaya which is now in its 7th year. The aim is to preserve the Thai martial arts.

The Wai Khru Ceremony took place at Wat Mahathat on Tuesday 15th March 2011. Highlights of the event included Muay Thai exhibitions as well as demonstrations of Thai handicraft and cuisine. Over the following two days, 16th-17th March 2011,  there is a Muay Thai tournament with international boxers contending for the Nai Khanom Tom belt with a cash prize for the weight divisions of 60, 65, 70, and 80 kilograms. There will also be a Wai Kru competition for Thai students. This takes place at the stadium in Ayutthaya.

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