So you want to know how much do Muay Thai fighters make? I was wondering the same thing so I did a little research here’s what I’ve found:
How much money do Muay Thai fighters make? An average Muay Thai fighter in Thailand makes between 10,000 and 15,000 baht per fight. One US dollar equals roughly 30 baht so that’s between $300-450 per fight. A Muay Thai champion can make more than 60,000 baht (almost $2000) but his gym can take up to 30% of that money.
It’s even worse if you are just starting and you are a foreigner. Foreigners can make between 2,000 and 8,000 baht per fight ($60-220) depending on the city and the stadium in which they fight. For example, if you are a good fighter you can make 8,000 per fight in Phuket and 2,000 – 3,000 in Chiang Mai. The better and the famous you are, the more money you earn. To start making good money, a foreign fighter in Thailand need 15+ fights. There are always exceptions of course.
Now the numbers I mentioned depend on the interest in the fight. If it’s a televised fight and the stadium is full of people who paid to watch it, fighters can easily make more than $5,000.
The cost of living in Thailand is cheap. In most cities, you can live well with $1,000 a month including paying for rent, but still, the money Muay Thai fighters make can’t be compared to what boxers or even MMA fighters earn.
Many Muay Thai fighters have to fight several times a month to earn enough money to make a living. Don’t get me wrong, most of them love that lifestyle – going to the gym everyday and fighting, but let’s say the majority of them aren’t millionaires.
In the rest of the article, I’ll talk about what Muay Thai fighters do to make more money, and how much they can earn outside Thailand.
Betting is a huge thing in Muay Thai. There are some fights with $30,000 in bets placed on them. By betting Muay Thai fighters can make much more money than their regular paycheck by betting on themselves especially when they are the underdog. They can’t bet directly on themselves but they can give money to their trainers and ask them to speak to the bookie.
Now, this is quite a dangerous game because if you lose your money, you most likely will have to fight one more time this month to make enough money.
An interesting thing about betting in Muay Thai is that people usually don’t bet right away on fighters they don’t know. Often they just watch the first round and then bet on the fighter they think is going to win.
That’s why often the pace in the first round is slower and there aren’t many first-round finishes. Promoters and bookies don’t like fighters who finish the fight before people can bet.
Some clever fighters often fool the bookies by fighting bad in the first round to make them bet on their opponent while their coaches bet on them. Then they destroy their opponent and get double or triple the amount of money they can get initially.
Some gamblers offer money to fighters to lose. But that’s a foolish thing to do because it’s a big crime in Thailand and you can get banned for months and even years from competing if the referee notices that you are losing on purpose. And it’s not something a true fighter will ever do.
One of the reasons why foreigners get paid less especially at the beginning is that obviously Thai people are interested and willing to support their own people more.
So don’t be surprised if you get paid only $60 for your first fight. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t make good money from fighting. You’ll just need a little more fights than someone from Thailand (and you need to be good of course). There are probably thousands of people from all around the world who live in Thailand and make a living from fighting. On average on big shows, they can earn more than $1,000 easily but that means you will need to have at least 15-20 fights and climb the rankings.
As a beginner foreigner, you can get paid the most in Koh Samui and Phuket ($120-230) per fight.
Another problem foreigners face is that they are bigger than Thai people on average (especially people from western countries). The most competitive, and watched Muay Thia weight classes are between 120-160 lbs (55-73 kg) so if you are a big guy you may have a hard time finding opponents to fight other than other foreigners.
How Much can Fighters Make Outside Thailand
Generally, you can get more money when fighting in countries such as China or Japan. That’s why some fighters train and live in Thailand where it’s cheap but fight in Japan or China.
Some fighters fought in big Asian kickboxing organizations such as K1 or Glory where the rules are a little different than the traditional Muay Thai rules but the paychecks are several times higher. A decent Muay Thai fighter can easily make over $3,000 per fight there.
In those countries, bigger foreigners can also compete because there are heavier weight classes.
One championship is a Singapore-based MMA organization but they also host Muay Thai fights in a cage (Muay Thai rules in an MMA cage).
That’s another option for Muay Thai fighters who want to make more money. They don’t mention publicly how much they pay fighters but a former MMA champion Ben Askren said he got minimum of $50,000 per fight and another $50,000 as a win bonus.
Now I’m not saying that an average Muay Thai fighter can make that much money but they are definitely going to get paid more than in Thailand.
How Much do Most Famous Muay Thai Fighters Make
Muay Thai legends such as Buakaw and Saenchai who are known all around the world make significantly more money than the rest of the fighters including the champions.
They can not only get build up interest in their fights and sell more tickets and PPVs but also negotiate better paychecks with the promotions.
They also have their own gyms in Thailand and travel around the world to show their techniques on seminars which makes them millions of dollars.
Unlike famous boxers, Muay Thai fighters aren’t exactly millionaires after they retire. That’s why they often create their own gyms where they teach younger fighters.
If they manage to make a name for themselves that will make it much easier finding students when they open their gym.
Then they can get up to 30% of their fighters paychecks which are pretty good money.
Of course, that’s not so easy because there are tons of high-level coaches in Thailand who once competed so to stand a chance you need to be either very famous or an outstanding coach.
Boxing is a mainstream sport there is much more money in professional boxing than in Muay Thai. As a boxer, you can also compete in the Olympic games in which if you manage to win a gold medal, the Thailand government will pay you roughly $300,000 (US).
That’s why many Muay Thai fighters try their luck in boxing. Actually, when you first start Muay Thai and your coaches notice that you have good hands they can directly tell you to start boxing.