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The Traditional Fashion of Muay Thai

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On a Saturday night promotion in Thailand’s eastern Isaan region, one young contender jumps into the ring in his standard Muay Thai shorts, gloves, and mongkol. But unlike his opponent, tied around his waist is a colorful plaid sash. He performs the traditional wai kru and ram muay, then returns to his corner for the final blessing before the fight. After whispering a final prayer, the cornerman removes the plaid sash from around the child fighter’s waist, and the fighter walks to the middle of the ring to face his opponent. Next to me, my friend Boom notices my eyes trained on the sash as it’s removed and put aside. “It’s called a pakama,” he says. “A lot of Isaan fighters wear it as a symbol of their home and family ties.” Boom, who fights out of nearby Giatbundit Gym, was born in a small village along the border of Isaan’s Buriram and Khorat provinces, at a time when pakama were ubiquitous. 

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