Muay Thai also existed from ancient days, however, there are no records of when it started.
If you consider that the Cambodian Empire — Khmer Empire — used to rule Thailand as far back as the 12th Century, Muay Thai or Kun Khmer likely originated in Cambodia.
Cambodia was only separated from modern Thailand at the turn of the 19th–20th centuries by the French protectorates.
It took until 1950 to establish diplomatic relations between the two states. Understandably, relations have remained complicated ever since.
Cambodia hosted the 2023 South East Asian Games
Cambodia hosted the SEA Games from Friday, May 5, 2023, until Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
The country’s leaders decided this was the opportune time to take back its heritage and dropped “Muay Thai” from the Games, replacing it with its version, “Kun Khmer.”
The two versions and fighting techniques are the same — they merely differ in the music and “dance style” performed during the contests.
Unsurprisingly, Thailand wasn’t happy about this unilateral decision by their smaller neighbor, insisting Muay Thai — Thai Boxing — stems from Thailand, not Cambodia.
Cambodia, however, remains steadfast that Kun Khmer is an ancient martial art that developed into Muay Thai in Thailand.
As a result, Thailand boycotted the Kun Khmer events at the 2023 SEA Games.
The two nations have some of the best kickboxers in the world. In the interest of the spectators, it would have been best to settle, move on, and have the best athletes compete.
But that’s life, which isn’t always fair!
Please read my related sorry about Cambodia:
It will be hard to reconcile the differences between Thailand and Cambodia and whether Kun Khmer came before Muay Thai.
As the host country, I understand Cambodia’s decision to take this action.
Cambodia has often requested Muay Thai boxing to be renamed, claiming it stems from Cambodia.
They tried to find a middle ground by suggesting to call the martial art — “SEA Boxing.”
Thailand refused, saying they are responsible for making their boxing style an internationally recognized sport.
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