When you watch Muay Thai fights in Western countries, one thing that often stands out is the horrible refereeing. The majority of refs in the West have never actually been to Thailand and think that Muay Thai is simply Kickboxing, with added elbows and knees.
It is quite common to see Western referees separating fighters immediately when they enter the clinch, not realizing that clinching is part of Muay Thai. Even worse, they don’t know when they should stop a fight from continuing or when they should allow it to go on.
If you haven’t read about the sad story Dennis Munson Jr., the amateur fighter that died in the ring, make sure you check it out. This story shows exactly how bad some referees and officials really are in North America.
The difference between referees in the West and Thailand is night and day. While Western referees might ref a few fights every few months, the refs in Thailand do it as their full time job.
If you counted how many fights the Thailand referees have reffed in their careers, the number would be in the thousands. With all of this experience under their belt, it is not surprising that they know how to do their job at a high level.
Now, this being said, not all referees in Thailand are created equal. Obviously there are some bad referees in the bunch, but as a whole, most referees are pretty good at controlling fights and making sure both fighters are safe.
For those of you who haven’t witnessed these brilliant refs in action here are 5 reasons why the refs in Thailand are the best in the world.
#1. They are willing to take the “Fall” for fighters
This referee makes a valiant effort to try and save this guy from going out of the ring, but he was a hair too late. He was about to jump over the ropes, but realized he had no chance to save the guy who was already down. Fortunately for him, he’ll get another chance in the clip below
Same referee, same fighters, this time he goes for the save………..
Unfortunately for this ref, today wasn’t his lucky day. After going for the save again, this time he ends up on the bottom of this big pile up of fighters. Even though this wasn’t planned, you have to give him credit for his effort. The referee definitely tried his best to save the fighters, literally taking the fall for both fighters.
#2. They Won’t Hesitate to Protect a Fighter and Stop a Fight
Even though this fighter nods his head and wants to continue the fight, the referee doesn’t allow it to happen. Initially the ref was was about to continue the fight, but he notices the fighter was slightly wobbly, prompting him to wave off the fight.
The Referees in Thailand understand that fighting is a career, which means you will win and lose. Even if a fighter wants to fight on, if they feel the fighter is going to get KO’ed a second later from their opponent, they won’t hesitate to stop the fight. This saves the fighters from any unnecessary further damage, especially if they have no shot at winning.
#3. They have Great Footwork Skills
Look at the smooth transition from standing up, to going down on his knees and then getting back up, in one fluid motion. That is what I call great footwork. You don’t learn how to move like that over night.
These referees are like dancers in the ring, they know how to move around with ease and are light on their feet. Since most of them are ex Thai fighters, they really do have a great sense of whats going on in the ring.
#4. They Are Great at Recovering from Slip Ups
This is one of the smoothest recoveries I have seen from a referee. As the referee tries to break up the fighters, he hits a patch of “ice” in the middle of the ring and goes down. While most refs would sit there looking like a dead log after a fall like this, this guys smoothly transitions from his slip to get back into the action right away.
Have a look at that sweet little 36o spin move he does on the ground, to get his eyes back on both fighters. This referee is not worried about how he looks, he is worried about ensuring the fighters are taken care of. Great effort on his part.
#5. They Have Amazing Reaction Speed and Timing
This fighter gets knocked out and almost takes a big knee to the face on the way down. Watch the referee rush in to save this fighter from a brutal knee to the face. That is what I call excellent speed, footwork and reaction that saves the fighter in blue from further damage. Next level referee right here.
Bonus: They Have Great Teeps
All of the Muay Thai referees in Thailand are past fighters. They have very fast reflexes that can save a fighter from serious injury. This referee should win a medal because the fighter in red was about to get kicked in the head by his foreign opponent.
Referees Don’t Get Better than This
If you plan on fighting in Thailand, you can be sure you will have a good ref in the ring with you. While you might get put in a mismatch fight, at least you can count on the referee to step in if things get out of hand.
As long as you don’t go into your Muay Thai fight wearing MMA shorts and trying to take down your opponent in the ring, the referees are great. When you enter the ring, always respect the rules and your opponent and you will get that same level of respect back from your opponent and the refs.
While there are always a few bad apples in every bunch, as a whole they are a head above their counterparts outside of Thailand.
These clips showcase just a few of the many qualities that the referees in Thailand possess. While you probably already knew that the Thai fighters from Thailand are the best in the world, now you know the referees in Thailand are equally as good.
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