Muay Thai in popular culture

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The combat sport of Muay Thai has been featured in media, including film, television, manga, anime and video games. It gained international attention when Yodtong Senanan led the Nak Muay Team against Osamu Noguchi's Kickboxer Team on October 16, 1972.[1] It has heavily influenced the sport of kickboxing, and is used in mixed martial arts (MMA), where athletes train in its techniques.


Muay Thai has been featured in an assortment of films:

Movie Year Description
Master KIMs The Nak Muay team appears in the final scene.[citation needed]
Duel of Fists 1971 A Hong Kong engineer (David Chiang) goes to Thailand to find his long-lost half-brother (Ti Lung), who is a Muay Thai boxer.
Bloodsport 1988 Paco (Paulo Tocha) is a Muay Thai practitioner.
A Fighter's Blues
(A Fu)
2000 Mong Fu (Andy Lau), a former Muay Thai boxer, returns to Thailand from Hong Kong and challenges the champion to a match.
Beautiful Boxer 2003 The life story of Parinya Charoenphol (Asanee Suwan), who masters Muay Thai in order to realize her dream of becoming a woman.
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior 2003 The series popularized Muay Thai, and featured some Muay Boran techniques. The film had two sequels: Ong Bak 2 (2008) and Ong Bak 3 (2010)
Born to Fight 2004 Dan Chupong stars in the film.[citation needed]
Chok-Dee: The Kickboxer 2005 The film is based on the life of Algerian-French Muay Thai boxer Dida Diafat, who stars as himself.[2]
Tom-Yum-Goong 2005 Tony Jaa, who starred in the movie and was also the fight choreographer, incorporates a Muay Thai style (มวยคชสาร, "muaykodchasarn", roughly translated as "Elephant Boxing"), which emphasizes grappling moves. The movie also showcased "Jaturongkabaht", which was used by the Royal Thai Bodyguards.[citation needed]
Fight or Flight 2007 A documentary on Thailand's ring fighting circuit.
Muay Thai Chaiya 2007 Is a film about two talented muay Thai boxers, boyhood friends whose lives take divergent paths after they arrive in Bangkok.
Chocolate 2008 Muay Thai fighters Yanin Vismitananda and Lim Su-Jeong star in this film.[citation needed]
Down for the Count
2009 Muay Thai boxer Ahmad Al-Sulaiti appears as himself.
The Kick 2011 A Korean family of Taekwondo experts immigrate to Thailand and are exposed to Muay Thai fighting.[3]
Only God Forgives 2013 A Bangkok policeman and a gangster settle their differences in a Muay Thai match.
A Prayer Before Dawn 2017 The film is based on the true life experience of Billy Moore who survived his Thai prison ordeal by becoming a Muay Thai boxing champion.


Muay Thai has been featured in television series from reality show contests to documentary episodes.

Television Show Episode Description
The Contender Asia series A reality-based television series that follows 16 aspiring Muay Thai middleweight fighters from 12 countries as they compete in a series of outdoor challenges and sanctioned matches.[4]
Human Weapon "Muay Thai" The episode featured the history and fighting techniques of Muay Thai.
True Life "I'm a Muay Thai Fighter" Kit Cope and Ben Garcia travel overseas to make their mark in the brutal world of Muay Thai ring fighting. They are scheduled to compete in bare-knuckle fights that will be broadcast on Thailand television.
Fight Girls series A reality show similar to The Ultimate Fighter, where ten female fighters live together and train with a Muay Thai instructor in Las Vegas for six weeks in an effort to fight for a Muay Thai championship in Thailand.
Fight Quest "Thailand" Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson learn Muay Thai.
Dhani Tackles the Globe "Thailand" Dhani Jones learns Muay Thai.
Babylon 5 "TKO" Michael Garibaldi and his friend Walker Smith participate in an alien-run tournament called the "Mutai".
Gaki no Tsukai The variety show features a "Thai Kick" punishment game where a boxer delivers a kick to the loser's backside.
Real World/Road Rules Challenge "The Ruins" featured a "Muay Thai challenge" where contestants kicked bamboo sticks in an elimination round.
Ring Girls series A reality show similar to The Ultimate Fighter, where ten female fighters live together and train with a Muay Thai instructor in Las Vegas for six weeks in an effort to fight for a Muay Thai championship in Thailand.
Power Rangers/Juken Sentai Gekiranger Power Rangers Jungle Fury season Robert "R.J." James, the Jungle Fury Wolf Ranger who wears violet, is a Muay Thai practitioner. He wears prajed (dual elbow bands) uses elbow and knee attacks, including a flying knee strike.
An Idiot Abroad "Swim With Dolphins" Karl Pilkington trains with a Muay Thai kickboxing group and later participates in a blindfolded match.[5]

Manga and Animation[edit]

Manga and anime shows occasionally feature characters who use Muay Thai techniques. Soman Sono Arikton and Tadashi Sawamura from the 1970 show Kick no Oni (キックの鬼, The Kick Demon) are among the first Muay Thai characters to appear in anime.[citation needed] The list includes appearances from other animations.

Manga or Animation Character(s)
Tatakae!! Ramenman Muay Thai Chūchai
Dragon Ball Draculaman, Pamput
Shingeki no Kyojin Female titan
Noritaka Sawamura Noritaka, Tchan-Poua
Captain Tsubasa World Youth Bunnaak Singprasert
Karate Shokoshi Kohinata Minoru[6] Samart Sarindu, Charndech Nham Sae Gym
Thanakorn Ammarath, Changnoi Jakkapong
Singsak, Thongchai[7]
Junny Skeandelaki
陣内流柔術武闘伝 真島クンすっとばす!! Krut Muangsurin
KOKO TEKKENDEN TOUGH Kreangarg Suwanpakdee
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple Apachai Hopachai, Tirawit Kōkin
Agaard Jum Sai
Beyblade Yothin
Hajime No Ippo Jimmy Sispher
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Lussuria
Treasure hunting in Thailand[8] Thani Sor.Silachai[9][10]
Kickboxer Mamoru Mamoru
Kamen Rider Ryuki Kamen Rider Impaler

Video games[edit]

The following games feature characters that either perform Muay Thai techniques or dress like Muay Thai fighters with arm bands, handwraps, or Mongkhon headgear.

Series Game characters
Street Fighter Sagat, Adon, Gou Hibiki,[11] others[note 1][12]
Fatal Fury Joe Higashi, Hwa Jai
Ehrgeiz Prince Naseem/Doza Art of Fighting King
The King of Fighters Joe Higashi (Fatal Fury), Hwa Jai (Fatal Fury), King (Art of Fighting), Benimaru Nikaido
Dead or Alive Zack
League of Legends Lee Sin
Mortal Kombat Jax Briggs
Virtua Fighter Vanessa Lewis,[note 2] Brad Burns
Tekken Bruce Irvin, Bryan Fury, Mokujin, Unknown[note 3]
World Heroes 2 Shura (Naikanom Tom)
Fighter's History,
Karnov's Revenge
Samchay Tomyamgun
Buriki One Payak Sitipitak
Granado Espada Irawan
The Bouncer PD-4
World of Fighting (freeware) Ananda
Battle Arena Toshinden Chaos[note 4]



  1. ^ Muay Thai fighters from Street Fighter III: New Generation sometimes appear in Elena's stage during the 2nd round.
  2. ^ In Virtua Fighter 4, Vanessa Lewis used both Vale Tudo and Muay Thai move sets until Brad Burns was added in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, making her solely a Vale Tudo fighter.
  3. ^ Unknown in the Tekken series can use any of the techniques of the other players, including the Muay Thai moves of Bruce Irvin and Mokujin.
  4. ^ Chaos, from Battle Arena Toshinden 2 and 3, wears Mongkhon when he fights.


  1. ^ Hion, Jeffrey. "Muay Thai". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  2. ^ "Diafat Bio". Retrieved 2006-03-01.
  3. ^ "Ç͹ⴹàµÐ". Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  4. ^ "The Contender Asia kicks off". September 9, 2007. Archived from the original on January 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  5. ^ "An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 3: Swim With Dolphins – Sky1 HD". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  6. ^ "空手小公子 小日向海流 – Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru". Ten Ryû, culture japonaise et arts-martiaux (in French). 2009-02-25. Archived from the original on 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  7. ^ "【漫画】 空手小公子 小日向海流 第01巻〜第47巻 |アニメ、漫画の無料紹介". Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  8. ^ ล่าขุมทรัพย์สุดขอบฟ้าในไทย. สำนักพิมพ์นานมีบุ๊คส์ (in Thai)
  9. ^ 네이버 책 :: 네이버는 책을 사랑합니다. (in Korean). 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  10. ^ "태국에서 보물찾기-Daum 책" (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  11. ^ サガットvsゴウ (in Japanese)
  12. ^ "Rip Offs Page 3 – More Street Fighter and SNK inspirations". Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  13. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 2012-11-07. His style is an assimilation of fighting styles he has learned from his travels around the world including Muay Thai Kickboxing and Brazilian Jujitsu.

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