One of the questions I’ve been getting asked a lot lately is “how much will I get paid for a muay Thai fight in Thailand?”. It’s a very valid question. Sure, we all love this sport, and would do it for free if we had to, but we don’t. A lot of people are willing to pay good money to watch you fight in Thailand, so why shouldn’t you take your fair share?
Actually, “fair share” might be the wrong word to use there, as it definitely won’t be fair, but you want to make as much money as possible. After all, that could be one of the factors that allows you to stay in Thailand for longer. Not only that, but you’re putting your ass on the line every time you step into the ring, and that’s worth something.
First off, how much you get paid for a fight depends on a number of factors; whether or not you get the fight through your gym, the show you’re fighting on, and the location of the stadium. Fight purses vary from stadium to stadium in the same area too. The other factor is how good you are; the higher-level fighter you are, the more control you’ll have over these other factors, and you’ll make more money.
Let’s start with the lower end of the pay scale – the local stadiums. If you have limited fight experience and you’re fighting for a gym in Thailand, you’ll more than likely get matched up in one of the local stadiums.
Chiang Mai – You’re looking at around 2,000-3,000 baht per fight here. You may get matched up with a taxi driver or another foreigner. Fights are generally low quality.
Pattaya – One of the lowest paid regions for local fighters at around 3,000-4,000 baht per fight. This doesn’t include big shows like MAX, I’m just talking about fights in Pattaya World Boxing Stadium here.
Bangkok – Again, you’ll probably earn around 4,000 baht for a muay Thai fight in Bangkok stadiums. Remember, I’m still talking about local, non-televised fights. A lot of foreigners think they’re fighting on the REAL Lumpinee shows, when actually, they’re fighting on weekend shows in a half-empty Lumpinee stadium.
Koh Samui – Generally 4,000-7,000 baht a scrap, but anything from 7,000+ if you win your fights. There is actually scope to earn decent money (for an island fighter) in Koh Samui as some promoters follow a traditional Thai system where you receive a higher fight purse for winning consistently. The purses are more negotiable than in other regions in Thailand.
Koh Phangan – Around 4,000 baht, but a lot of fighters will jump on the boat to Koh Samui to fight instead. Bigger crowds, better fights and better money.
Phuket – Fighters here usually pocket 6,000-7,000 baht per fight, but more if you’re a good fighter. Again, you need to negotiate the purse with the promoter.
If you are paying for your training then you can keep 100% of your fight purse. But if you’re being sponsored, then you may have to give the gym a share of it. If they want anymore than a 30% cut then just muay Thai their ass and leave.
As you can see, these purses are a bit rubbish. If you’re smart about it, you’ll put a side bet on yourself to earn a bit of extra cash. Talk to your trainer beforehand and give him some money to place the bet. If the bookie accepts the bet before the start of the first round, your trainer can put it on then. If the bookie thinks you’re the favourite then he won’t accept the bet, and he’ll wait until the fight starts to see what you’re like. If he thinks he’ll make his money back (i.e. he thinks you are going to lose) then he’ll take the bet.
If you’ve got a bit of fight experience then you can play with the bookies a little bit; fight the first round like a total idiot to make the bookie think you you’re going to lose the fight, get your trainer to place the bet, and then bang your opponent out in the second round. Simples.
I’ve placed side bets on myself a couple of times; I won the first time I did it and lost the second. I’m not talking huge amounts of money, just a couple of thousand baht, but that 2,000 baht gives you extra time to recover from your fight as you won’t need to fight again so soon.
Fighting on the big shows in Thailand and Asia is a different kettle of fish. There’s big money to be made if you’re good enough to get the fights, and more importantly, you know the people to get you the fights in the first place.
You’re looking at earning at least $1,000 (US) for a muay Thai fight on a big show in Thailand or Asia. Other countries in Asia such as China and Japan generally pay better than Thailand, but in any case, you’re looking at $1000-$2000 on average. This figure can rise to any amount; if you’re good enough to fight on the big shows and you’re a fighter in demand then you’ll get considerably more.
Ideally, you’d want to live and train in Thailand where it’s inexpensive, and fight abroad to make $$$. Everyone progresses differently, but I earned $60 for my first fight in Thailand, by fight #17 I broke the $1,000 barrier, and five fights later I broke the $5,000 barrier. So it just goes to show that it is possible to become a professional fighter in Thailand and live off your earnings.
Some people reading this may say “Oh, I don’t care about money, I do it for the love of the sport”. Well, when you’re earning a living from fighting and it’s your full time job, you WILL care about money. Trust me. And for those who love to fight, this is the best job in the world.Follow MuayThaiScholar