Grappling with the Irish Muay Thai scene

In a country gripped by medals success in Olympic boxing and the UFC’s pay-per-view extravaganza, it is perhaps difficult to uncover the strong Muay Thai presence in Ireland.

Muay Thai, occasionally known as Thaiboxing, is a combat sport that utilises all parts of the body for striking, kicking and clinching. A match consists of five three minute rounds with scores being kept by judges.

There are approximately 30 Muay Thai gyms in Ireland where potential champion fighters learn and study the art. In recent years, the Irish Muay Thai scene has been boosted by the talented Dubliner Jono Bracken and the booking of a fight featuring the legendary Saenchai which was held in Cork earlier this year.

Wishing to learn about the sport, The City spoke to Daniel O’Reilly, a Muay Thai student and fighter from Dublin. He has been balancing his passion with work commitments since 2009.

“I had always been fascinated with the sport due to the film Kickboxer, which was my favourite film throughout my childhood,” he said.

Daniel has experienced several venue changes during his time with the Warriors Thai Boxing Dublin Gym, but has stayed true to the art. “They were first located in Loughlinstown Leisure Centre but then moved to Bray, where I started my training under Mike Dockery,” he explained.

“Then in late 2009 the club moved to a permanent specialised location in Monkstown. Also now there is a head trainer, Cian Cowley. He is also a multiple title holder in Muay Thai and also K-1.”

Photo credit: on Flickr
Photo credit: on Flickr

Daniel also described the similarities between Muay Thai and the likes of MMA and boxing, both in advertising and style. “Yes [Muay Thai and MMA share techniques in common], although most MMA fighters have a hybrid style of stand up fighting. It wouldn’t be possible to fight with a true Thai stance due to takedowns so the techniques are slightly altered,” he said.

He continued, “there are many shows, promoted just like MMA and boxing cards. Fighters are flown in from all over Europe and some even from Thailand. Just last month, Siam Warriors gym in Cork held a super show with two elite Thai fighters, Pornsae and Rungravee.”

Luckily for Daniel’s Warriors gym, they have an event of their own to look forward to this month.

It is relatively inexpensive to buy the necessary gear for Muay Thai, according to Daniel. Items used by Thaiboxing fighters include gloves, shin pads, shorts, a protective cup and gumguard and wrist wraps. Gyms provide certain pieces of equipment until a student wishes to commit to training.

Muay Thai is primarily taught to adolescents and adult students, but younger students can be catered for. “In Thailand they start from a very young age. Over here it’s limited due to the intensity of the sport. Junior classes are held but they’d be heavily padded and only really learn the techniques of the style,” he said.

Featured image by Mario_Arias on Flickr.

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