Letter From Bangkok

Women finally compete in Thailand’s oldest kickboxing stadium

A Spanish muay thai fighter executes a roundhouse kick at Rajadamnern Stadium on Oct 21, 2022. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
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BANGKOK – On a sweaty October night in an otherwise quiet inner Bangkok, kickboxing fans crowded the foyer of Thailand’s oldest muay thai stadium. They posed for selfies outside its crimson Art Deco facade, its billboards flashing images of top athletes due to appear.

This year, for the first time in Rajadamnern Stadium’s 77-year history, women were featured on its giant screens. Thai kickboxers such as Somratsamee Chaisuya and foreign ones like Desiree Rovira and Zehra Dogan peered out from the billboards, their eyes locked in steely gazes, their hair – sometimes dyed purple – braided tight to the scalp.

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