Muay Ying: Under vs Over the Ropes

Women equality and Muaythai  seems to be a hot topic at the moment but I’m keen on putting down my thoughts on the whole “Under vs Over the Ropes” debate. I’ll leave the “Should women be allowed to fight at Lumpinee” debate for another day.

Our lady boxers like Stephanie, Connie and Yolanda abide by the traditions of Thailand’s “muay ying” or lady boxers and do not put their mongkon on prior to entering the ring. The reason being is they are lady boxers and by tradition actually enter the ring under the bottom rope, which is why they cannot wear the mongkon before they get in. In fact, they even have a different mongkon to the boys as it’s prohibited for them to wear the same the same mongkon as the boys.

Some western muay ying at the moment are moving away from this saying that they are not second rate boxers, and want to be equal.  Fair enough, but I actually disagree.

Prior to opening our gym I actually didn’t think I’d end up with any lady boxers to be honest. But as the gym progressed, I’ve had some wonderful ladies come into the gym, train hard, with and even now gaining momentum before they move into the pro ranks.

When having our first lady boxer fight, I contemplated whether or not to continue the Thai tradition of making the ladies enter under the bottom rope, or have them climb over the top rope like they do in the west.

In considering what action to take, I actually cast my mind back to watching muay ying fight in Thailand when I was younger; a strong lady boxer by the name of Wungaroon “The Wild Rose” comes to mind. I was always intrigued by the way the ladies entered under the bottom rope. She strong and was great to watch. Her movement onto the stage was different to the men, and believe it or not I find it quite elegant and beautiful.

I have since decided to teach my lady boxers to enter under the bottom rope, however not as some western ladies say as to make them second rate citizens, but follow the traditions of the motherland of muaythai AND for our lady boxers to be proud of who they are… muay ying.

In my eyes now after having more experience with muay ying, I can safely say that muay ying are in most cases tougher than the men. They have to deal with their body changes, weight fluctuations, sweaty stinky boys in training, sacrifice things like nails and hair, and more importantly, limited fighter pools which make them often fight people outside of their normal fight weight and experience level.

So before the whole “under vs over” the rope debate gets out of hand, I would like to say that I am proud of our muaying for what they do, what they go through, and I will continue to make our muay ying go under the ropes as a sign not of inferiority, but out of respect for the culture a sign of strength, beauty and the sacrifices they make, which in my mind makes a well-balanced fighter and women.


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