It’s a question so old, no one can quite remember who first asked it or when: Which is better Thai boxing or Western style boxing?
Mixed martial arts (MMA) have become incredibly popular in recent years and its combination of styles often brings out this age-old argument. Ask two fighting aficionados and you’ll probably get three or even four opinions! Stances on this are like support for a football team, it is rarely ever going to change. It is one of the most divisive topics in the world of MMA, but two of the most important skills are that of Thai boxing and boxing. Without a doubt these are two of the striking heavy traits that all stars would love to have, but how do they compare?
Muay Thai Boxing
Muay Thai has many differences from traditional boxing, most notably that kicking is allowed. Something that can’t be done in your standard boxing ring. However, while that may be a strength should it come to a street fight, Muay Thai boxers will also have the disadvantage of not being as good with their hands. Punches aren’t a massive part of the sport, given that points can’t be won by throwing punches.
The popularity of Muay Thai reached new heights in the 21st century, as it was shared across the world as fighters from Thailand began competing in world events in kickboxing and MMA. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that it finally received its first endorsement from the IOC to be recognised as an Olympic sport.
Regardless, the sport has been included in the International World Games Association since 2017. The popularity of the sport is something that continues to rise. There are now more than 4,000 Thai boxing gyms outside of Thailand. The local Thai casinos are getting in on the action with the popularity of MMA betting skyrocketing.
Traditional, or western style, boxing is one of the world’s great sports, with millions tuning in to watch the biggest fights of the year on Pay Per View events. However, there are also esteemed amateur competitions that have also gained traction throughout the years. Most notably the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. The biggest difference between boxing and Muay Thai is that boxers have the added advantage of having better footwork, and are able to move quickly to avoid punches.
However, as mentioned above, Muay Thai focuses heavily on kicks, which would be a disadvantage should a star from each discipline meet in the middle of a ring. Boxers focus more on the hands and can seamlessly move away from punches because they can see them coming. However, avoiding kicks would be foreign nature to them, as it isn’t something that they have ever trained for.
The popularity of boxing worldwide can be seen by the stars that feature heavily on the amount of money made on Pay Per View events. The most successful in this regard is the legendary Muhammad Ali. Ali had sales of 162,944,00 during his professional career, while Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Floyd Mayweather Jr also feature regularly on the list.
How Do They Compare?
When it comes to comparing the two, it is incredibly difficult. It really comes down to what you’re trying to compare. When it comes to learning the sport, both require intense physical and mental discipline to even approach the training regimens. However, if you want to master one or the other, then it would be hard to argue against Muay Thai being the more difficult of the two. Mastering the striking is only half of the problem, as you will also need to learn how to defend yourself from the flurry of attacks that could be coming your way.
However, if you’re just a normal fitness fanatic and just trying to find the best martial art to keep fit, then boxing may be the way forward. We often take for granted how strenuous boxing can be, as the professionals make it look supremely easy. However, conditioning is key for fighters, and cardio classes involving punches and moving around are excellent ways to lose weight and get/stay in shape.
Regardless, when it comes to the way forward, both Muay Thai and boxing are excellent, and both come with their fair share of pros. Most importantly, it is down to personal preference and what you want to get out of it. Both take incredible commitment to master, and can be excellent for both mental and physical well being above anything else.