boat races at Loei
Boat races at Loei

Boat races happen after the end of the rain season. After "WAN OOK PHANSA" (วันออกพรรษา - day which symbolises the end of rain retreat), there are many competitions on Thai rivers. The most impressive boat races happen in "ISAN" area (อีสาน - northeastern part of Thailand). The boat contains more than 50 persons. The boat has an impressive prow decorated with a garland for the luck. Thai people bet money on boats. Each competition is between two boats. Each boat represents one temple.

At the end of competition there are rewards for the winner team. A little speech is made by the district officer. Then a huge task is to bring back the boats to the temple. The Mekong shores are very slippery. So bringing back the boats from the water to the top of the shores is a hard task. All are helping.

Boats stay in a shed in the temple area until next year competition.
Boat storage


His Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother of Thailand, played petanque almost daily, till well in her nineties. This helps petanque to become popular in Thailand.

Petanque The Petanque Federation of Thailand got as far as the semifinals at the world petanque championship in year 2005. It was the second time the country, the strongest Asian contenders in the game, had reached that stage.


One of the most famous sport is of course Thai boxing or "MUAY THAI" (มวยไทย). Boxers may strike the body by using fists, elbows, shins or knees. The atmosphere in a Thai boxing stadium is impressive. In Bangkok Lumpini boxing stadium is famous. Thai boxing is known world-wide. There is even some French men who are world champions.

Before the beginning of the fight and during the warm up, the fighters are wearing flowers garlands. During all the fight there is always live Thai music. Fighters can hit themselves with feet, fists, knees. Hit with feet into the head, chest, in the legs to make the other fighter fall. Hit with fists into the head, chest, stomach. Hit with knees into the stomach when fighter are closed together. Sometimes one fighter success to catch the leg of the other in order to make him fall. It can be very bloody when one fighter falls hard into the ropes of the ring. Before the main fight, there are always fights with less experimented fighters.

Main fight is called "KHU EK" (คู่เอก). During fights many Thai people are betting and shouting. Often at the beginning of each ring ("YOK" - ยก), the referee wipes the body of the fighters with a towel. At the beginning and end of the fight, the two fighters are making a dance, called "LAM MUAI THAI" (รำมวยไทย). This ceremony is made to thank their teacher and the spirits ("WAI KRU" - ประเพณีไหว้ครู). Thai fighters always wear a headband over the head and the arms.

Thai boxing and integration in Buddhist temples are the few ways of social promotion for "ISAN" children, who didn't have the chance to go to school.
thai boxers
Thai boxing

In year 1998 there was a scandal in Thai boxing world because Parinya Kiatbusaba, a "KATOEY" (กะเทย - man dressed like a woman), refused to be naked for the weighing. Anyway he won very easily. In year 1999 it was reported that Parinya Kiatbusaba has won the right to wear a bra in a Tokyo fight. At the end of year 1999 Parinya Kiatbusaba was not a transvestite any more. Parinya changed his sex. So she won't be allowed any more to fight men in a boxing Thai ring.

Beautiful boxer
This movie is based on the true story of Parinya Kiatbusaba, a champion kickboxing transvestite. Described as a living paradox – he fought like a man in order to become a woman – his story is a tale of one effeminate boy's determination to do whatever it took to raise the money to turn himself into the woman that he had always felt that he was.
Beautiful boxer

In year 2003, the movie "Beautiful boxer" relates the true story of Parinya Kiatbusaba, the champion kickboxing transvestite. In year 2006, after a two-year absence from boxing, the newly named Nong Tum Fairtex Gym stepped back into the ring in a 140-pound contest against Japanese Kenshiro Lookchaomaekhemthong at Fairtex Pattaya’s grand opening.

Hundreds of young boxers rallied at Parliament on may 1999 in protest against an anticipated move to ban children under 18 from professional boxing. Their representant argued that the majority of young boxers were actually chief family supporters. In Thai society children are expected to help their parents and support the whole family so having no income from 15 to 18 years will cause hundreds of thousands of rural families to be in trouble. Meanwhile opponents claimed that boxing will retard children's development and their brains will become damaged. Also Thailand is not respecting the international children labour law protecting children.


In year 1996 Thailand won it first gold medal in Olympic games. A Thai boxer won. He did not play Thai boxing but English boxing.
first gold medal for Thailand
Thai stamp about
first gold Olympic medal

In year 2000 Thailand won three medals (GOLD in flyweight boxing, BRONZE in women's weightlifting, BRONZE in light middleweight boxing) in Olympic games. In year 2004, with three gold and eight medals altogether (mainly women's weightlifting and boxing) it was the best ever performance of Thai athletes.

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