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Muay Thai News - The Ongoing Development of "New" New Lumpinee

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When Lumpinee Stadium moved from its old location in Bangkok to its new location in Ram Intra, it became known as "New Lumpinee." They gave it a whole makeover, creating a modernized (at that time) experience with LED screens, fold-down seats in the ticketed seating areas (gamblers still have bench-like stadium seating; they pay also, but their tickets are very cheap), and a kind of peripheral inclusion of a massage shop, equipment and apparel stores... a more "high end" Lumpinee from its roots. Now that Covid has created a chain-reaction of changes to Lumpinee, including who is running it and a complete change of guard in who is promoting there, the New Lumpinee is quickly becoming the "New New Lumpinee." Part of that change is the inclusion of women fighting on the GoSport promotion, something that is a truly huge change, paired with the exclusion of gambling.

The two main players in New New Lumpinee are "Big Dang," the military officer who is in charge of the venue itself. Beside him (and just under him in terms of power) is Mr. Chai, who is the head of GoSport, the new main promotional operator within the stadium. You can hear Kevin and me talk about the complex realities of having a "outsider" running the main operations for promoting, the pros and cons therein, in our latest Muay Thai Bones episode.

This stub article is about Big Dang and Mr. Chai's plans for the ongoing development of New New Lumpinee. Essentially, Big Dang's main concern is severing gambling from Muay Thai. He says that they want to switch focus from the gambling-driven audience of contemporary Muay Thai to, what he's calling here, a "traditional scoring" focus. He doesn't give any kind of explanation for what he views as traditional, but he is emphasizing a focus on transparency and fairness in refereeing and judging, while simultaneously saying he wants "traditional" scoring and not some kind of new "international" appeal... which is good, in my view, as long as there is a clear idea of what he's talking about. He also says he is asking Mr. Chai, the head of GoSport, to put on one big card per month. Currently there are shows every weekend, so there are still 4 shows per month, but Big Dang appears to be asking for a kind of big draw promotion with titles, big names, something that gets viewers excited to watch the fights. There are still no audience permitted to watch any of these shows, so I don't know whether he's anticipating when they will be welcomed in again (with no gambling), or whether he means a show that will be widely watched online.


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5 hours ago, Richard Weston said:

Gambling and Thailand are one in the same

This really is so. The bold experiment is going to come up against some very intractable aspects of the sport and culture...or it's Muay Thai is going to become so radically changed, one would have to question if it is still the Muay Thai of Thailand. I'm pretty interested in just how they are going to try and walk this line.

Admittedly, the problem probably isn't gambling per se, but very powerful gamblers who can shift and set odds, and basically call-in a win or a loss. When wins and losses start to just become manipulated, then the fabric of what sport is starts to tear and fray.

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