Each year when March 17th falls, it is a special day for Tiger Muay Thai, numerous other camps throughout Thailand and Muay thai enthusiasts across the world. March 17th is better known as Muay Thai day.

As the story is told through Thai folklore, during the time of the falling ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1767, the Burmese King Hsinbyushin(known in Thai as King Mangra), rounded up thousands of Siamese and moved them to Burma as prisoners. Among the taken were a large number of kickboxers.

One of those captives was a Muay Thai fighter named, Nai Khanom Tom. At one point, King Hsinbyushin wanted to see how Muay Boran would compare to Burmese Lethwei, or Burmese Boxing.

Nai Khanom Tom, a famous fighter at the time, was selected to fight against a Burmese champion. While in the ring, Nai Khanom Tom did a traditional Wai Kru pre-fight dance, to pay his respects to his teachers and ancestors, as well as the spectators, dancing around his opponent.

This amazed and perplexed the Burmese people, who thought it was black magic When the fight began, Nai Khanom Tom charged out, using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees to pummel his opponent until he collapsed.

However the Burmese referee said the Burmese champion was too distracted by the dance, and declared the knockout invalid. The King then asked if Nai Khanom Tom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself.

Nai Khanom Tom defeated one after the other with no rest periods in between. In the end Nai Khanom Tom was victorious and no one else dared to challenge him.

Impressed with his fantastic display of warrior capabilities, the Burmese king, didn’t go and punish him for defeating all his champion fighters, but the contrary. Nai Khanom Tom was granted his freedom and awarded two Burmese wives, which he took back to Thailand.

The stories of Nai Khanom Tom followed him with his return to Thailand as a hero and spent the rest of his life teaching Muay Thai. Nai Khanom Tom is often referred to as the “father of Muay Thai.”

Although centuries have passed and times have changed the legacy of Nai Khanom Tom remains. So much so that every year, on March 17, the Muay Thai community celebrates in his honor. On this day participants across the world take time to reflect on the sport they love and show gratitude to the ones who teach it.