One of the dark sides of Muay Thai in Thailand is the corruption that takes place in the sport. Because large amounts of money are won and lost on Muay Thai betting, there are always people looking to tip the odds in their favor.

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While the gamblers do provide atmosphere in the stadiums and fill empty seats, they also add corruption.

Since some gamblers bet large amounts on a fighter, they will often try to tip the odds by getting fighters to take a dive (intentionally lose a fight).

While most people associated diving with Tuk Tuk drivers (ex fighters) who get paid a bit of cash to fight foreigners, diving also takes place at the prestigious stadiums of Lumpinee and Rajadamnern. Besides fighters intentionally losing fights, what is more common is corrupt officials and gamblers who sway close decisions.

To ensure that fighters do not throw fights, Muay Thai gyms are expected to back their fighter with a big bet on the fight. If the fighter throws the fight, their gym will end up losing a lot of money.

Just like most things in life, money talks. If a fighter is struggling financially, they might be willing to throw a fight for the right amount of money. (Remember that fighting is a job in Thailand, not a hobby)

Calling Out Suspected Diving

Since a lot of money is exchanged on every fight between gamblers, it is important to ensure that the fights live up to the standards of the stadium. This fight showcases what happens when a referee suspects that a fighter has taken a dive.

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Special thanks to Muay Ties for uploading the video. 

While the blue fighter clearly won the fight, the referee suspected that the red fighter might have given up/taken a dive. In order to prevent people from losing money on the betting, they called a no decision to the fight.

After the fight was ended the announcer stated that , “there is no decision in this fight because the fighter in red does not fight up to the Muay Thai standard.” In other words they suspect that something fishy went down.

It is quite common for gamblers to go after fighters who are suspected of throwing a fight, especially if a lot of money was lost on a fighter. Some stadiums may even ban fighters following a poor showing or lack of effort.

Thoughts on the Fight

While it would be impossible to know 100% that they fighter in red took a dive, it is highly likely that he “let himself” lose to his blue opponent. All a fighter needs to do is drop his ends for a second and let his opponent capitalize on an easy knockout win.

This is the first time I have seen a referee take action and actually call a “no contest” to a fight with a suspected diver.

As a fan of Muay Thai, it is great seeing a referee take action when a suspected dive is taken. While it is impossible to stop fighters from throwing fights, it is nice to see the referee step in and call a no contest to the fight.

The only way to end all corruption in Muay Thai would be to ban gambling (This would never happen). As long as there is gambling in Muay Thai, there will always be corrupt refs, judges and fighters willing to influence the outcome of a fight for monetary gain.

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