Early Muay Thai Kickboxing in America, 1952

Martial Arts New York

According to website of the Thai Boxing Association of the U.S.A., the history of Muay Thai in America began in 1968, when Ajarn Chai came to the United States. Chai, reputedly, was the first-ever Thai boxing instructor to teach Americans the art.

However, a number of vintage articles indicate that Thai boxing arrived at least a decade earlier in the United States, although it is not known if any of the visiting Thai pugilists taught the art as did Chai.

The following photograph appeared in the Register-Republic on October 29, 1952. An accompanying article noted:

“Thailand “boxers” really get a kick out of their version of the sport. Out in Seattle, Bancomong Chiaphat (right) wards off a hefty kick by Chaleim Amatayakul while fellow Thailander Woradheb Khoonwongse referees an exhibition match. The trio will tour the U.S. to show boxing fans how they do it in Thailand where anything—kicking, elbowing, kneeing, and…

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