For the last decade, the MMA community has debated trans-MMA athletes competing in the sport. This is nothing new for Thai boxing, as there have been transgender Muay Thai fighters competing for decades.
Here’s a breakdown of the history of transgender fighters in Muay Thai. You will find out why trans athletes were more accepted in Muay Thai. We also listed the most talented transgender Muay Thai fighters in the history of the sport.
- Why Was Muay Thai the First Combat Sport to Have Trans Athletes?
- How Were Transgender Muay Thai Fighters Accepted?
- Do Trans Fighters in Muay Thai Fight Men or Women?
- Why are Trans Muay Thai Fighters Allowed to Fight in Certain Stadiums and Female Fighters Can’t?
- Notable Trans Fighters in Muay Thai
- Will We See More Trans Fighters in Muay Thai?
Why Was Muay Thai the First Combat Sport to Have Trans Athletes?
In the last thirty to forty years, transgender Muay Thai fighters have competed within Thailand. Even in some of the most prestigious Muay Thai stadiums in Thailand.
The reason for this larger quantity of trans fighters in Muay Thai is that some of the best sex change surgeons in the world are located in Thailand.
Of the demand for sex change surgeries and transexual sex workers, Thailand has one of the world’s highest transexual populations.
This made it statistically more likely that we’d see transgender Muay Thai fighters before transgender MMA fighters.
How Were Transgender Muay Thai Fighters Accepted?
Trans Muay Thai fighters weren’t really ever accepted. They were more or less just tolerated by Muay Thai fans. The trans community has been abused in Thailand just like anywhere else in the world.
In Thailand, people who are trans or have the complexion of the other sex are referred to as “kathoey.” These type of people were never really accepted in Thailand and were even denied chances for being different.
This was no different for Trans fighters in Muay Thai. It took them years to be allowed to fight in legal Thai boxing events.
The reason that they were begrudgingly accepted really had nothing to do with trans rights. Transgender Muay Thai fighters were accepted for gambling reasons.
Gambling is a large part of the sport, and adding trans fighters in Muay Thai would give interesting odds. Many Muay Thai promoters also wanted to make some money off of a spectacle.
This is why we would begin regularly seeing trans fighters in Muay Thai.
Do Trans Fighters in Muay Thai Fight Men or Women?
Transgender Muay Thai fighters have fought men and women in their careers. Some have even fought other transgender Muay Thai fighters.
Why are Trans Muay Thai Fighters Allowed to Fight in Certain Stadiums and Female Fighters Can’t?
One thing that has irked a lot of female Muay Thai fighters is the double standard between them and trans fighters. In many prominent Thai boxing stadiums in Thailand, trans fighters can compete, and women can’t.
The answer to why these Muay Thai stadiums allow transgender Muay Thai fighters isn’t one the woke community will like. These stadiums allow trans fighters in Muay Thai because they don’t see them as women.
If the fighters were born as men, they are viewed as men. Even if they say, they are women and present themselves as women.
In a crazy fact, the first transgender Muay Thai fighter to fight in Lumpinee Stadium took place in 2016. Five years before, the first female Muay Thai fighter was permitted to fight in the stadium.
Notable Trans Fighters in Muay Thai
There have been a few notable transgender Muay Thai fighters who have successfully competed in the sport. Here are four of the most known trans fighters in Muay Thai.
Nong Toom is considered to be the very first transgender Muay Thai fighter in the sport’s history. She was born Parinya Charoenphol and began training in the 1990s.
Toom began gaining publicity as a fighter in 1998 when she began going to the ring with makeup. Her story would lead to the production of her auto-biographical film “Beautiful Boxer.”
After her fighting career, Nong Toom would go on to be a model and open her own Muay Thai gym in 2010.
Throughout her career, she would fight both men and women. One of her most memorable fights was one of her last against women’s kickboxing legend Jorina Baars.
Nong Rose is a modern-day trans fighter who has been making a name for herself since the early 2010s. Nicknamed “The Iron Knee,” Rose has shown that she is arguably the world’s best transgender Muay Thai fighter.
In 2017, she would become the first trans-woman to fight in Rajadamnemern Stadium. Her debut was possible due to the work of prominent Muay Thai promoter Songchai Ratanauban schmoozing the stadium owners.
In her career, Nong Rose has had over 300 pro fights and fights on various big events like Yokkao.
Angie Petchrungrueng is notable for being the first trans woman allowed to fight at the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium. She would win her Lumpinee debut with a 4th TKO using stiff knees.
Nong Toom was in attendance for the fight to congratulate Angie after her win.
Another more unknown transgender Muay Thai that was documented fighting twenty years ago went by the name Prateunghot or Janet. She was a friend of Nong Rose and Nong Toom and was seen in multiple training photos with the two transgender Muay Thai fighters.
Janet is documented to have started training at the age of sixteen and had numerous fights against men and women. She now is said to work in the entertainment industry.
Will We See More Trans Fighters in Muay Thai?
As trans rights movements are becoming more vocal, we will most likely see an increase in transgender Muay Thai fighters. We’re already seeing an increase in trans athletes in other sports, so it is safe to assume this is a safe bet.
If there is an increase in trans-fighters in Muay Thai, we could see the introduction of trans-fighter divisions
A martial artist and former coach for two decades from Houston, Texas. Specializing in the disciplines of kickboxing, karate, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu.