‘A’ Class - (5 x 3 minute rounds) - World & British Champions
Here is where the full beauty of Muay Thai can be seen, as fighters compete under the same rules as stipulated by the Sports Authority of Thailand (rules which most boxing stadiums and governing world bodies adhere to), with knees and elbows to the head being allowed. The fighters will work tactics not seen in the other class’s due to time or round constraints, such as picking the tempo up in the later rounds to test the other boxers stamina. (24 months prior training to be of this standard)
‘B’ Class - (5 x 2 min rounds) - European & English Champions
Fighters within this category are usualy well known on the national scene, as their standard of Muay Thai will be very high. They will most probably have appeared on tv at this stage, and will be receiving a fair sized cheque for their fights. Although the rules in this class are always debated, such as ‘why knees to the head and not elbows?’ This is usualy a fantastic class of fighter worth watching, with the added benefit knowing that at any minute someone could get knocked out with a knee to the face, dramaticly changing the way in which the fight will be fought. (18 months prior training needed)
‘C’ Class - (5 x 1.5 minute rounds) - Area Champions
If fighters wish to persue a professional path in Muay Thai, then this is where the majority of them start. They will be fighting with no elbow or knee strikes to the head, but will only be wearing the bare essentials (gloves, gum shield and groin guard). Making their way through the ranks, to compete at more prestigous venues for more money and more of the limelight.
Although this is were the harsh reality of the sport usualy kicks in for most hopefuls, those that keep going are rewarded for their efforts. Either financialy, or with a slot on national television, however at this low level of competition there isn’t much more that they can expect to recieve. If they make it to the top of their division and given the opportunity to challenge, they may be able to fight for an Area Championship Belt, and a move up in class. (6 months prior training to be of this standard)
‘AM’ Class - (4 x 2 minute rounds) - World, European, British, English & Area Champions
The fighters succesful in the amatuer route wil not get paid for fighting, but they get the prestigous opportunity to fight for their country in the world championships, usualy held in Bangkok - Thailand. This format of MuayThai is one which is very likely to appear in future Olympic games, it is still undecided whether or not there will be electronic scoring, but it seems more likely as the games draw closer and closer. This style of scoring changes the way in which fighters have to fight, along with all the protecitve equipment, means that damage is minimised, and so the tactic of the fighters, is to go for quantity rather than quality.
The amatuer rules are very simular to ‘A’ class with elbows and knees strikes to the head being allowed. However a Wai Kru has to be performed before the fight, also every fighter must wear gloves (as stimpulated by weight catagory), gum shield, groin, head, chest, elbow and shin guards. (12 months prior training to be of this standard)
‘N’ Class - (5 x 1.5 minute rounds) - Local hero
This class is the starting block for many future champions, as it is the first taste of competition. Although there are no winners or losers during these events, both boxers usualy work hard to show their better technical ability, useing these fights as nothing more than a training session away from home. In these events there are no elbow’s or knee strikes to the head. (3 months prior training to be of this standard)
There are two levels of contact allowed in this class (the level of contact is determined before the fight begins);
‘Light contact’ - 16oz gloves, gum shields, groin and shin guards are mandatory.
‘Heavy contact’ - 16oz gloves, gum shields, groin, head, chest and shin guards are mandatory.
It should also be noted that usualy the gloves used in this class are several ounces heavy than the other class’s (where glove weight is stimpulated by fighters weight catagory), to ensure of no KO’s.
As only a rough idea to how long it takes to become a champion:
1 year for Area title, 2 years for English title, 3 years for British title, 4 years for European title, 5 years for World title
"...I watched him as he entered the circle, his body glistening in the morning sun. He began to strap on his equipment, and with each movement of his body his muscles rippled under the hot sunlight. With a shake of his head, he turned to face me, and as he strode towards the center of the circle, I could see the defiant and confident look in his piercing eyes, I could see the smile on his lips, that echoed, over and over again, ' this is my domain and I will not let you leave, until I am finished with you'. My legs felt weak and my heart beat faster. My father turned to me and whispered, my son, 'This man is the trainer of warriors, in this circle it is he who is king and you who are vassal, if you are prepared to become a warrior, then you must enter his kingdom'..." - Samingdam 2536