Below is a list of western women who have fought the most times in Thailand. I had made this list a year ago in a post in an attempt to put my goal of 100 fights in some sort of context, you can see that original post which includes both western men and women throughout history, but my list of prolific western female fighters in Thailand was incomplete. Through further research I found 5 more women that belong on the list, not to mention that active fighters have added to their totals (meaning this list will continue to grow, which is awesome). So it was time to post a more complete collection, representing women who have invested their fighting lives in Thailand, and shared the stage with the best female fighters Thailand has to offer. One of the coolest things about this list is that nearly every single woman is from a different country. Germany, Sweden, Egypt, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, USA, Greece, the UK, Costa Rica, and Brazil. Only the United Kingdom has more than one representative. It is a list that represents essentially western female fighting in Thailand. Looking at the 12 women on this list, you see a globe of fighting.
above, a table of the western female fighters with the most (pro) fights in Thailand – if you’re reading this in email, go to the post here
As far as I can find, western women started coming to Thailand to fight with frequency in the mid-1990s, which means that we’ve been fighting here in earnest for only about 25 years – a very short time as far as things go. Before the mid-90s I can only find traces. There is one record of the fighter Marissa Bright beginning training at Jitti back in the early 90s, and before that Anne Quilan, along with Saskia van Rijswijk who was the first female Muay Thai World Champion and the first westerner to train at Sityodtong, were ultra-pioneers. Anne came to Sityodtong in 1980 (below). Western female fighting in Thailand is really still in its beginnings.
Before that it is likely that Thai female fights were largely only happening around festivals in the provinces, part of local gambling circuits that to this day flourish, but with very little presence in the capital – though there is a story of Thai women fighting in Lumpinee in the late 1960s found in this article. Some local Thai female fighters may have amassed large numbers of fights, but I suspect there was very little contact with westerners, and these fighters are lost to history. Before the 1990s there may have been Thai women fighting in tourist centers, for entertainment for westerners, but it seems unlikely that western women came and fought out of Thai gyms before the early to mid-90s. If anyone knows of someone who did, I’d love to interview them, this is a history I want to record.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s seems to be the first real wave of western female fighting. The Muay Thai Institute and Rangsit Stadium was founded, creating a Thai female fight team, and a Bangkok stadium to fight in – read about that story here. Early female-forward, western-oriented gyms like Jitti Gym, or Lanna Muay Thai were spearheads in female fighting – not only training western women in earnest, but also finding them fight opportunities. All western women fighting then were pioneers. Fighting frequently in Thailand now, as a woman, is much more common in the last few years than it was in, say, the mid-2000s. Vanguard fighters like Sylvie Charbonneau, Dalia Hosny and Melissa Ray on this list, before a time of social media, smart phone video and updates, were totally pushing the pedal to the floor in the mid-to-late 2000s, fighting more than other western counterparts who were in the country, as much as seemed possible then. I think it just wasn’t in people’s heads for women to be fighting as much as one can, or to try and find more and more opportunities – to actually push for more fighting. By the late 2000s other prolific female fighters like Teresa Wintermyr, Fani Peloumpi, or Gerry Sinbimuaythai, not only were fighting with frequency, but also have remained in or around the country for a very long time, spanning eras in female fighting, setting standards of western excellence in Thailand for nearly a decade. Fani stands alone on this list in that she has been coming to fight in Thailand for almost 14 years. While many come and go, these women have fought and fought. Now active fighters like Teresa, Fani, Marcela Soto and Juliana Rosa are pushing towards 100, a number that changes the game for everyone.
I’d like to think that my own example, and its documentation (detailed fight record, all fight videos), is helping to prop open doors to women fighting with volume in the country that is the home and heart of Muay Thai. My own fight numbers have come through, among other things, trying to break through to high-level festival fighting, Thai fighting organized through gambling interests, extending beyond tourist-centers and big promotion events – it’s allowed me to keep fighting top opponents even when fights can be otherwise hard to find. It feels that current female fighters seem much more willing to push for more fights, to build networks and connections which reach beyond what any one gym or set of promoters will give them, and hopefully this is just the beginning of an era of high frequency fighting by western women. There are still those fighters just coming for a few fights, or to win a title or two – but you see more western women now fighting as a lifestyle, making commitments to Thailand. As women want and express that they wish to fight more the opportunities for fighting will also increase, and female fighting in the country will rise. And hopefully as western fighters come to fight more frequently we can also shed more light on the numerous but largely unknown high-quality opponents we face in Thailand, and break the unfortunate ill-informed stereotypes some in the west still hold of Thai women. For a long time it was common to find only “Thai” listed as opponents on western female fight records. As western fighters we have a debt to our female Thai counterparts, t0 give them recognition and to celebrate them. If we can continue to film and share our fights, take pains to record their names, this is a major step in paying respect to those that face us. And to all those women on this list, as a female fighter I say Thank You. Each of these women have changed what is possible, not only for me, but for countless others we’ll never meet.
On the subject of “most” or “totals”, let me just say that these are just dumb numbers. Alone, they don’t really mean much. But they allow us to draw a group of diverse women together, and together they create a landscape for other women to cross, with their own footsteps. Behind these numbers are incredible female passions, lived experiences, a dedicated love of Thailand and Thai culture. This is really a list of women who have loved Muay Thai and in particular the Muay Thai of Thailand, not a list of badass-ness, or toughness, though everyone on the list is both. It’s really an invitation to other women: it has been done, come and do something yourself!
Every fight is precious, always something learned.
Financial and emotional support is big for fighters, and I must thank all my Patreon supporters past and present who not only have helped make my own achievements possible, but also keep this site going so I can continue relating the story of Muay Thai to my readership – if you find value in this even $1 a month can make a difference. And a huge thank you to the the sponsors of 8limbs.us: Nak Muay Nation and Onyx MMA.
I should add that I sense that this list is still incomplete, so if you know of other western women who have fought a great deal in the country (35+) especially from the past, please let me know. – I’m still researching the records of early female fighters Amy Birch and Marissa Bright, if anyone has contact with them I’d appreciate it. There is one other Lanna Muay Thai fighter from the mid 2000s who is said to have fought a lot of fights, but is perhaps something of a free spirit. When I contacted her she did not have a number and said she did not want to be a part of any history of female fighting or list. Any correction of errors is appreciated.