Women & The Muay Thai Ring

Traditionally, women were banned from entering the Muay Thai ring. This originates from the belief that the presence of a woman in the ring would be tantamount to a curse, destroying the fighters’ skills and making them vulnerable to injuries, It was also believed that a feminine presence would conflict with the holy amulets which the fighters secrete inside their prajied. Women were also not allowed to touch a fighter’s mongkon, even outside the ring.

Nowadays, however, with women’s equality being a prime social issue, things are gradually changing, even in the conservative world of Muay Thai. Some stadiums, for example, Ratchadamnoen and Lumpini, still uphold the ban on women entering the ring, while others have modified it in deference to the times. For example, Rangsit Stadium (in Patumthani, to the north of Bangkok) has women’s rings as well as men’s rings, but forbids women from leaping over the top rope when they enter the ring. Instead, they have to duck under the ropes, on the principle that in jumping over the top rope, they would be actually or symbolically higher than their opponents’ amulets and, being female, this would sully or be disrespectful to them. Oddly, while men are allowed to enter the women’s ring, the reverse is not the case.

Women fighters nowadays wear the mongkon, prajied and other amulets like their male counterparts. While some male fighters still object to the idea of a woman touching their mongkon, some take a more liberal stance: it is now very much a matter of individual choice rather than an actual rule.