Unlike most martial arts, there’s no such thing as a belt system in Muay Thai. Although, western Muay Thai gyms have made up their own belt systems to help them rank their students and fighters. However, for the most part, belt systems aren’t really used in Muay Thai.
There are, however, title belts in Muay Thai just like in boxing and other competitive combat sports. With matches usually sanctioned by a known Muay Thai Association, fighters can earn themselves a belt (or two, or even more) by a winning a championship.
Win–Loss Record Matters
Because there’s no such thing as a belt system in Muay Thai, fighters often rely on their win-loss records as a ranking system of sorts. Of course, the more fights you’ve won, especially via knockout, the better of a fighter you’re perceived.
Another important ranking factor is who you fought. Even if you do lose against a top fighter, if you manage to put up a good fight, you’ll still be acknowledged and recognized in the competitive Muay Thai Scene.
Of course, though, to get ranked, you’ll need to qualify for the fight or tournament first, which are sanctioned by a Muay Thai Association, or other governing bodies.
Ranks, Titles, Stadiums and Associations
- Lumpinee – The Lumpinee stadium is located in Bangkok, Thailand. Run by the Thai Royal Army on behalf of the Thai government, the stadium is widely considered as the most popular and most prestigious stadium of modern Muay Thai. Fights in the Lumpinee stadium are held several days a week, ranging from the mini flyweight weight class to the super welterweight.
- Rajadamnern – Rajadamnern is an indoor stadium that’s also located in Bangkok, Thailand. It has its own ranking system and championship titles up to the Middleweight weight class. Much like in the Lumpinee stadium, fights in Rajadamnern are also held several days a week.
- World Muay Thai Council – The World Muay Thai Council is considered the foremost Muay Thai Association. It’s also considered as the sole recognized professional sport governing body for Muay Thai in and out of Thailand. Formed in 1995, the organization is regulated by the Sports Authority of Thailand.
- WBC Muay Thai – WBC Muay Thai is another Muay Thai Association that’s governed by the World Boxing Council. The organization holds Championship titles that are highly coveted by both local and international Muay Thai fighters.
- Championship Belts. Championship belts can be fought for by various weight classes, ranging from Mini Flyweight to Super Welterweight. Any recognized Muay Thai Stadium, such as the Lumpinee and Rajadamnern, can hold a fight for their respective titles.
The Quick and Dirty
Muay Thai fighters are ranked based on their win-loss record and who they’ve been fighting with. Titles, also referred to as belts, can only be gained by fighting and winning championship bouts.
There are certain Muay Thai schools (mainly in the west) that have introduced a coloured belt system to help rank their systems. But, this is not traditional and is believed to be a way to market the sport, or to rank students without requiring them to fight.
Plenty of organizations in and out of Thailand hold Muay Thai championships and award titles. The most popular and widely recognized are Lumpinee, Rajademnern, WMC and WBC Muaythai.