In the world of Muay Thai, The stadiums of Bangkok are the place to go if you want to see the best martial artists that the sport has to offer. Renowned for their exceptional skill, the Thais are formidable opponents in the ring. With rigorous training twice a day and frequent fight opportunities, they amass significant experience—contrasting with many foreigners who often compete only once every few months in their home countries.
Every year, thousands of foreign fighters known locally as Muay Farang, relocate to the motherland of the sport with hopes of making it as a fighter in the capital’s highly competitive Muay Thai scene. Their ultimate goal: making a name for themselves in Bangkok’s premier stadiums—Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, and Omnoi.”
In recent years, it has become more common to see foreigners fighting in Thai stadiums. However, unless they are part of the Muay Thai juggernaut ONE Championship’s internationally broadcasted Lumpinee promotion, international acclaim is hard to come by. Meet three Muay Farang fighters who have recently made waves in Thailand’s biggest stadiums. Having trained in Thai gyms, climbed the stadium ranks, and faced some of Thailand’s best, these fighters are poised to capture your attention in 2024.
1) Joe Ryan
British Muay Thai sensation, Joe Ryan, caused a mini-Tsunami in his home country earlier this month when he became the first UK born fighter in history to win a major Bangkok stadium title. The 19-year-old, who fights out of Two Brothers’ Muay Thai Gym in Liverpool, relocated to Sitsongpeenong Gym in Phuket after capturing the coveted WMO 160lb World Title in a bout against Magnus Andersson earlier in the year.
Joe’s swift ascent to the pinnacle of the Rajadamnern stadiums rankings didn’t occur without setbacks. The young Brit lost his first contest on the popular RWS promotion against the formidable Brazilian, Emerson Bento in August. It marked the first blemish on Ryan’s record in five years and it was a mark that he was hoping to erase after a win against Iranian, Reza VenumMuayThai, in September earned him a rematch against the former Rajadamnern 160lb champion. Unfortunately, Bento chose to fight in Cambodia instead and was stripped of his title following a knockout loss, leading Ryan to fight #2 contender of the Rajadamnern Middleweight, Petchmai for the vacant title. In a post-fight interview, Ryan said he would love to defend his title and avenge his loss against the Brazilian, raising hopes for a rematch between the two Muay Farangs in 2024.
2) Daniel Rodriguez
Muay Thai, especially in Thailand, is a sport that prides itself on the fact that its highly competitive. Fighters with padded records are frowned upon, and those who make it to the pinnacle of the sport have done so by defeating the best in their respective divisions. So, when a Nak Muay tells you that they are undefeated it is usually met with scepticism and in the following sentences they will either admit that they have only had a handful of fights, or you’ll soon register that this particular fighter has been handed some pretty easy victories for most of their career. Daniel Rodriguez is the exception to this rule. Not only did he remain undefeated in his first 41 fights, he did so whilst claiming victories over a whole stable of Thai superstars which includes Rungrat Pumpanmuang and Santanfah Sitsongpeenong. He not only emerged victorious in two closely contested bouts against multiple-stadium and former WBC world champion Yodwicha Por. Boonsit but also secured a knockout in a recent title defense match.
Daniel started his career in his native country, Switzerland, regularly fighting out of Dado Gym in Zurich. In 2019, he made his first trip to the sport’s homeland, training at Sitchefboontham in Bangkok, where he fought at Rajadamnern Stadium three times, winning all of his fights by knockout. Daniel returned briefly to Zurich, capturing the coveted 154lb WBC European title before going back to Thailand in 2022.
On his second trip to the motherland of Muay Thai, Daniel made the world-famous Sinbi MuayThai camp in Phuket his home. From there, Daniel completed a fairytale run of fights, making waves across the Muay Thai world when he captured both the coveted 154lb Rajadamnern Stadium title and won the inaugural Rajadamnern World Series 154lb tournament in the space of three months. It was a feat that propelled him to the very top of the WBC world rankings for his division and cemented him as one of the best Muay Farangs to ever fight in the major stadiums of Thailand.
3) Alfie Pearse
The young Englishman, Alfie Pearse, may only be in his fledgling days as a Nak Muay, having moved to the sport’s capital in 2022, but he has already proven himself to be a name to watch. Alfie started his career at Team Jai Dee under trainer Andy Newall in 2020 and quickly went on to secure himself both the British and Intercontinental ISKA titles in the 61kg division with his fast paced and relentless Muay Khao style.
Alfie’s choice to move to Thailand was heavily influenced by Andy, who ingrained a strong work ethic into the young nak muay with stories about how important the sport was to the Thai culture and how hard the training was in the sports motherland. After his first fight out of Sor Detchapant, Alfie was in love with both the training and the ease in which he could get fights and chose to stay at the gym for a further 10 months.
Alfie has fought at Petchbuncha and Omnoi stadiums but fights most regularly out of Rajadamnern where he went undefeated in his first 7 bouts, a huge achievement for anyone fighting in one of Thailand’s major stadiums. This untainted record definitely turned some heads and is perhaps the reason that Alfie was the one called to fight for the Rajadamnern Stadium 135lb title on three days’ notice when challenger, Adam Noi, pulled out due to illness.
The fight against defending Rajadamnern champion, Jom Parunchai, is the only loss on Alfie’s record so far but it he has taken it in stride. The Englishman remains confident; “My current objective is to become a name out in Thailand and hopefully a champion in one or more of the big stadiums. That’s my main focus for now and I think I’m heading in the right direction.”
Alfie returned to winning ways after his one and only loss, securing the Rajadamnern Stadium #8 ranking when he defeated Adam Noi in a three-round contest on the Rajadamnern World Series Promotion, sparking hopes that he will get another big fight in early 2024 and possibly another chance at the coveted Rajadamnern Title later in the year.
You may also like: