You may dream of moving to Thailand, living a spartan lifestyle, training twice a day, surviving on rice and meat in hopes of becoming a Mauy Thai champion. Now you want to know if your dream will result in you becoming rich. We will explore the amount of money one can expect to earn as a professional Mauy Thai fighter.
How much money do Mauy Thai fighters make? In Thailand Mauy Thai fighters make between 10,000 – 60,000 Baht per fight ( $330 – $2000). Fighters are forced to hand over 30% of their pay to their trainers. Mauy Thai fighters can make significantly more money by fighting in Western countries where champions can earn between $10,000 to $50,000 per fight.
Mauy Thai gyms and trainers invest heavily in their fighters. They house them and feed them often from the time they are young boys. They have to pay the salaries of employees and trainers, pay for the equipment (gloves, bags, headgear, shin pads) and train the fighters 4 hours a day 6 days a week. These expenses add up and Mauy Thai gyms have to absorb significant losses before their fighters start generating the gym a profit.
As only a small percentage of a gym’s fighters become champions and earn 60,000 Baht a fight gyms rely heavily on a few successful fighters to generate the majority of the gym’s revenue. Due to this revenue model Mauy Thai fighters are expected to hand over 30% of their fight earnings to their gyms. This leaves Mauy Thai fighters with significantly less money than their advertised fight purses.
Do Mauy Thai fighters pay tax? Yes, Mauy Thai fighters pay tax. Officially Mauy Thai fighters are meant to declare their yearly income and pay tax based on the amount of income they earned. However, as Mauy Thai fighters are paid in cash many do not declare their income and pay zero tax.
Thailand has a progressive income tax system. Mauy Thai fighters who earn less than 150,000 Baht per year are exempt from paying tax. Fighters who earn between 150,001 – 300,000 Baht pay 5% tax, fighters who make between 300,001 – 500,000 pay 10% tax and fighters who earn between 500,001 – 750,000 Baht pay 15% tax.
Thailand has low income tax compared to many countries however income tax can still significantly lower the amount of money Mauy Thai fighters get to keep.
How Much Do Mauy Thai Trainers Make?
How much do Mauy Thai trainers make? Mauy Thai trainers earn between 6000 ($200) – 12000 ($400) Baht per month depending on their experience and where they live. Former champions who train fighters in Bangkok are paid the most. This salary is paid on top of free housing and food.
Mauy Thai gyms have an interesting system. Trainers are all former fighters who after finishing their competitive career will often stay living in the gym. Instead of earning money by winning purses these former fighters will now earn a salary paid by the gym owner in exchange for preparing the fighters for matches.
Being a Mauy Thai trainer is not an easy life. They often live in communal accommodation alongside fellow fighters making it difficult to have a family. They survive on simple meals. They spend hours everyday absorbing kicks, knees and punches on the pads which can cause some serious wear and tear on the body.
International Prize Money
Thailand is not a wealthy country. The low pay Mauy Thai fighters reflect the current economic conditions in Thailand. Mauy Thai fighters can earn significantly more money by fighting in China, Europe and the US. Kunlun a kickboxing promotion from China will pay champion Mauy Thai fighters between $15,000 – $30,000 per fight. Glory a Dutch promotion will pay Mauy Thai fighters $20,000 – $100,000 per fight. The amount of money a Mauy Thai fighter will receive when they fight in international promotions will depend on their name, their experience, the size of the event and the reputation of their opponent.
Gambling is where the real money in Mauy Thai is. Mauy Thai is one of the few areas in Thailand where gambling is legal. This has made Mauy Thai and gambling intimately linked.
Gamblers typically bet between 1000 baht to 100,000 baht on each fight. There are a number of professional Mauy Thai gamblers. Bon , one of these gamblers from Bangkok says on a good day he can make up to 200,000 baht (6600) and during his best month he won 1 million baht ($33,000). However being a professional Mauy Thai gambler is risky, as everyday you are risking your capital and with a few wrong turns you could be financially ruined.
Mauy Thai fighters can drastically increase their fight purse by placing a large bet on themselves to win. Technically this is not allowed but many fighters will get their friends and family to place bets on their behalf. This is obviously risky as fighters could end up fighting for free if they lose their guaranteed prize purse.
There have also been cases of match fixing in Mauy Thai. Where a heavily favored fighter will be paid to lose or bet against his opponent and take a dive. Fighters can further enrich themselves by taking part in such schemes.
Life After Mauy Thai
Retirement can be difficult for a lot of Mauy Thai fighters. Many of them have little in the way of savings and lack practical skills which can land them a comfortable job. A lot of former fighters end up becoming unskilled laborers or tuk tuk drivers. A lot of drunk foreigners who have mouthed off to the wrong tuk tuk driver have found this out the hard way.
Many Mauy Thai fighters become trainers after they retire however the competition is fierce and gym owners are able to choose only former champions. This leaves many former Mauy Thai fighters with no ability to become trainers.
Champion Mauy Thai fighters are able to use their celebrity cultivated through years of fighting to win sponsorship deals, open businesses and start their own Mauy Thai gyms. Mauy Thai celebrities are becoming more frequent and their ability to cash in on this new wide spread fame has become easier with the increased international exposure Mauy Thai has had in recent years combined with the rise of social media. Baukaw the first Mauy Thai celebrity has over 1 million followers on Instagram.
How Much Do Foreign Mauy Thai Fighters Make?
How much do foreign Mauy Thai fighters make? Foreign Mauy Thai fighters often make significantly less than Thai fighters in the major stadiums, usually between 3000 ($100) – 6000 ($200) Baht per fight. Foreign fighters can make much money fighting in the tourist focused stadiums in Phuket and Koh Samui, between 10,000 ($330) and 20,000 ($660) Baht per fight.
Mauy Thai spectators are less interested in watching foreigners fight. They prefer to watch the small weight classes which are dominated by Thais. Spectators are largely gamblers and they are often unwilling to bet on foreigners as they do not know enough about them. This creates a low demand for foreign fighters in the major stadiums.
Mauy Thai fighters who fight in Thailand do not make a lot of money. They can be expected to be paid between 10,000 ($330) – 60,000 ($2000) Baht per fight depending on their experience and what stadium they fight in. Fighters are forced to hand over 30% of their winnings to their gyms and can be expected to pay 10% in income tax. Mauy Thai fighters can make substantially more money by fighting in kickboxing promotions in China (Kunlun) and Europe (Glory) where they can make between $10,000-$50,000 per fight.