Muay Thai belts
In general there is no such thing as Muay Thai belt system. Muay Thai does not have a belt system like karate, judo or brazilian jiu jitsu but some western Muay Thai gyms (mostly outside of Thailand) have made up their own belt systems to rank their students and figthers. Mostly they use special arm bands as there is no such thing as belt needed in your Thai boxing gear to hold your shorts or kimono.
It came as a big surprise to me that there are actually some Muay Thai gyms in the U.S. and other western countries that use colored belts to rank fighters. Must be some sort of a marketing thing by western Muay Thai teachers, probably invented to just make more money off their students as there really is no such thing in real traditional or modern Muay Thai as belts. If you see one, it’s strictly a thing inside a certain gym.
There are however Title belts in Muay Thai, also called Championship belts that a fighter can earn by winning a championship.
But if there is no such thing as belt ranking system then how are Muay Thai fighters ranked?
Muay Thai ranking system
The most important ranking factor is how many fights you’ve had and what was the outcome of these fights – number of total fights, wins, losses and draws and how many fights won by knockout.
Also, probably even more important is whom have you fought. If you lose against a top fighter but put up a good fight, you will be acknowledged and seen in the muay thai scene. Of course, first you need to qualify for the fight or the tournament.
Muay Thai ranks and titles
There are many World, International, Continental, Stadium, National and Regional Titles to fight for. I have listed some of the largest and most significant championship belts that real champions see worth fighting for.
Lumpinee – the Lumpinee stadium (located in Bangkok, Thailand) is probably the most popular and prestigious modern symbol of Muay Thai. It is run by the Thai Royal Army on behalf of Thai Government. Only Rajadamnern stadium can come close to the level and prestige of Lumpinee champion. In the Lumpinee stadium the fights are held several days per week from the mini flyweight weight class (105 lb/48kg) up to super welterweight (154 lb/70kg).
Rajadamnern – Rajadamnern is an indoor stadium also in Bangkok, Thailand. The stadium has its own ranking system and championship titles up to Middleweight (160 lbs/72kg). Like Lumpinee, the fights happen several days a week.
World Muay Thai Council – WMC is the professional sport governing body for Muay Thai in Thailand as well as internationally. It is one of the oldest and the largest professional organizations of Muaythai in the world. Formed in 1995 by parliament of Thailand, and regulated by the Sports Authority of Thailand.
WBC Muay Thai – WBC Muaythai is governed by the World Boxing Coungil and its Championship Title is another much wanted belt that both, Thai and international fighters train and fight hard for.
Thai National Champion – Championship belts can be fought for from Mini Flyweight (105 lbs/48kg) to Super Welterweight (154 lbs/70kg). Any recognised Muay Thai Stadium in the country can hold a fight for the titles.
As you see there are plenty of organizations around the World that hold Muay Thai competitions. To become a World, Stadium, Continental, National or Regional Champion in Muay Thai you must challenge the current champion in your weight class in a fight that is regulated and held under the supervision of the governing organization.
Muay Thai weight classes
According to WBC MUAYTHAI there are 19 weight classes.
|Mini Flyweight||100 – 105 pounds (45.454 – 47.727 kg)|
|Light Flyweight||105 – 108 pounds (47.272 – 48.988 kg)|
|Flyweight||108 – 112 pounds (48.988 – 50.802kg)|
|Super Flyweight||112 – 115 pounds (50.802 – 52.163 kg)|
|Bantamweight||115 – 118 pounds (52.273 – 53.524 kg)|
|Super Bantamweight||118 – 122 pounds (53.524 – 55.338 kg)|
|Featherweight||122 – 126 pounds (55.338 – 57.153 kg)|
|Super Featherweight||126 – 130 pounds (57.153 – 58.967 kg)|
|Lightweight||130 – 135 pounds (58.967 – 61.235 kg)|
|Super Lightweight||135 – 140 pounds (61.235 – 63.503 kg)|
|Welterweight||140 – 147 pounds (63.503 – 66.678 kg)|
|Super Welterweight||147 – 154 pounds (66.678 – 69.853 kg)|
|Middleweight||154 – 160 pounds (69.853 – 71.575 kg)|
|Super Middleweight||160 – 168 pounds (71.575 – 76.204 kg)|
|Light Heavyweight||168 – 175 pounds (76.364 – 79.379 kg)|
|Cruiserweight||175 – 190 pounds (79.379 – 86.183 kg)|
|Super Cruiserweight||190 – 210 pounds (40.909 – 95.455 kg)|
|Heavyweight||210 -230 pounds (95.455 – 104.545 kg)|
|Super Heavyweight||Over 230 pounds (104.545 kg) and up|
Muay Thai belts and ranks in a nutshell
In traditional Muay Thai there is no such thing as a colored belt to show fighter’s rank. Titles, sometimes also referred to as belts, can be gained only by fighting and winning Muay Thai championships or single fights.
Some western Muay Thai schools have introduced a colored system to rank their students but this is not widely recognized and often seen as a way of marketing or way of ranking without having to fight.
There are many organization that hold Muay Thai Championships and award titles. The most widely recognized are Lumpinee, Rajademnern, WMC and WBC Muaythai.