Nai Khanom Tom – Muaythai Legend

Nai Khanom Tom – Muaythai Legend

Nai Khanom Tom is known as one of Muay Thai’s greatest legend., every Thai youngster knows, and he appears in every book or publication about the Muay Thai. 

Decades ago, Nai Khanom Tom Tom was imprisoned in Burma throughout the war. When the Burmese invaded and burned Thailand's historic city, Ayutthaya, he was captured.

The Burmese had their own martial art, Parma, which was similar to Muaythai. Parma's main weapon was the fist, whereas Muaythai fighters were known back then and now for their ability to fight with elbows, knees, feet, and fists. King Mangra wanted to know who had the best combat skills, so he summoned the best Siamese from the prisons to compete against his Burmese fighters. The Thais instinctively chose Nai Khanom Tom, who was known for his Muaythai talents and a "never die attitude".

The scene was very different from today’s fight. There were no timekeepers, rounds, or gloves and only the most minimal groin protection, even though the groin was a legal target. It was a bare-knuckle brawl to the finish, not in a ring, but in an arena flanked by the pomp and pageantry of Burmese court. It was a true battle of the ancient martial arts, Muay Boran.

The basics of the fighting styles between Thai and Burmese are different.  Burmese boxers wore traditional ankle-length sarongs as they swirled about their opponent, almost in slow motion, waiting for an opening. Burmese fists are used more than their feet, knees, and elbows. The Thais, on the other hand, battled in a pannung, a traditional loincloth wrapped once around the body and tied in a knot at the back. Nai Khanom Tom had then a freedom of movement and mobility that his opponent lacked.

Nai Khanom Tom was indeed, a great fighter.  Without a pause, he took the opponent one by one through a battering and bruising contest. He defeated ten of Burma’s best. He fought for His king, his country, his friends and the freedom for all.

King Mangra was very impressed and was one of the first to applaud the feat he had witnessed. “Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom even with his bare hands he can fell ten opponents”.

The King of Burma granted Nai Khanom Tom his freedom and he returned to the old Siam and is given a hero’s welcome. For the Thai people, for Muaythai, the legend of Nai Khanom Tom illustrates the best attributes to Muaythai: the unconquerable will to win for his country’s honour rather than his own and the willingness to face any odds in defence of the fighting art.


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