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Almost 80% of all Thai fighters begin their career at age 17 and retire before their mid-30s. Many fight multiple times per month and have boxer’s dementia by the time they reach their 30s. In fact, many Thai fighters make more than their parents and retire early.
Read on to find out how much Thai fighters are paid. And don’t be surprised if you hear a Thai fighter talking about his or her earnings.
80% of all Thai fighters start at 17
Most Thai fighters begin their career at an early age and are often retired before their late twenties. But there is one exception to this rule: Nareepas ‘Patty’ Supapitakpong, a 47-year-old mom of four who recently took up Muay Thai and recently won a fight against a woman 20 years her junior. Why? Because she is still young and is willing to put in the work and sacrifice necessary to remain a competitor.
The fight aesthetics in Thai fights are so different from those of Westerners that the 80% fighters start at 17 is even more impressive. Thais are trained to fight aggressively, but are not rewarded for aggression. The result is a fight that keeps the 80% fighter balance and flips at the right time. This philosophy is similar to the way two lumberjacks approach a log. It’s never a dull moment for a Thai fighter.
80% of all Thai fighters retire before their 30s
Most Thai fighters start early and often retire before their 30s. Nareepas ‘Patty’ Supapitakpong, 47, is an exception. She recently dipped her toe into the Muay Thai world and fought an opponent 20 years her junior. This bout ended in a draw, but the experience gave her a new found respect for her opponent. She now trains on her own, and hopes to continue competing for years to come.
80% of all Thai fighters fight multiple times a month
The first thing you should know about 80% of all Thai fighters is that their motivation is often minimal. It is not a fight with a high stakes prize or important title at stake. These fighters will simply coast in a fight when a win is likely to be enough to give them satisfaction. The 80% fighter will fight as if they were a “Tuk Tuk driver” and do the minimum required to win. This is an unremarkable approach, but it is acceptable in Thai fighting.
The next thing you should know about 80% of Thai fighters is that they never go to a fight camp. They do not even cut weight before fighting. They train and fight regularly and never take a break. This is how they build experience and wait for their “prime.”
The majority of Thai fighters fight multiple times a month. They don’t care about their records, but they do care about popularity and money on the line. While Western fighters would be happy with a world championship title, they don’t care about it in Thailand. A world title means little if you can beat a long-time rival. Thai fighters generally focus on KOing their opponent and collecting money rather than showing off their impressive skill set.
As mentioned above, many fighters earn more money by betting on themselves. They find a gambler to bet on them and fight a couple of times a month. Some fighters purposely fight poorly in the early rounds to win heavy amounts of money. Then they slay their opponent in the final rounds, earning double or triple their initial amount. Some gamblers even offer fighters heavy amounts to lose the fight, which can lead to a lengthy ban from the sport.
80% of all Thai fighters have boxer’s dementia
While boxing can be dangerous for the human body, it is also very dangerous for Muay Thai fighters. The repeated blows to the head can lead to conditions such as Boxer’s dementia. In the U.S., between fifteen and twenty percent of boxers have this condition. Symptoms of Boxer’s dementia can include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, tremors, lack of coordination, and even speech problems. These disorders can be very dangerous, particularly in younger boxers.
Research into the onset and progression of boxer’s dementia in former fighters has been limited to just a few cases. The Corsellis series of research was limited to fifteen cases, and its retrospective nature made it difficult to determine the true prevalence of boxer’s dementia. The participants in the study were boxers who were between the ages of 57 and 91. There was no way to determine how common this type of dementia is without further studies.
The first report of boxer’s dementia at autopsy did not include the term “punch drunk syndrome” or “dementia pugilistica.” The case in question was a 51-year-old amateur boxer who had held the title of amateur German middleweight for six years. The onset of personality changes was evident at the age of 39, and deterioration progressed to memory loss, dysphasia, and parkinsonism. The pathology of the brain showed typical signs of Alzheimer’s disease, including senile plaques, p-tau, and p-tau.
The disease affects more than 80 percent of professional Thai fighters. The disease is often progressive, affecting fighters who have suffered repeated blows to the head. It manifests as a decline in mental ability, and often begins around twelve to sixteen years after the start of a boxing career. Some patients may experience symptoms of dementia such as tremors, unsteadiness in the legs, and Parkinsonism.