No matter which camp they come from, all boxers dream of competing at this institution. When it comes to boxing stadiums, it’s probably safe to say that Rajadamnern Stadium is the flashiest of them all. For fans of Muay Thai, a pilgrimage to this Thai boxing mecca is a must in Bangkok. And even if you don’t care to watch boxers lunge at each other, the gravitas of this building’s long history is enough to warrant a visit.
The Thai boxing tradition dates back to ancient Ayutthaya, but a standardized, national stage for the sport only came into existence in the last century. Rajadamnern Stadium’s inauguration at the end of WWII marks it as the first Muay Thai arena in the world to be elevated to internationally recognized sporting conventions.
Following the same Art Deco architectural style as other historical treasures, such as the Grand Postal Building, this stadium retains all of its classic aesthetics from 77 years ago. In a country where many heritage structures are usually bulldozed to make way for (sigh) another mall, this amphitheater is a true survivor. Other post-war arenas in the heart of Bangkok have all since folded, including the army-run Lumpini Boxing Stadium, another legendary boxing stage and Rajadamnern’s sole competitor, which was demolished in 2014 and has since relocated to the suburbs of Ram Intra.
That this old institution now sports a flashy, brightly lit facade akin to a Broadway theater — with a world-class lighting, sound and screen systems inside — is due to its recently formed partnership with Global Sport Ventures Co., Ltd. (GSV), which now owns 50 percent of Rajadamnern Stadium’s shares. GSV is a subsidiary of Plan B Media — Thailand’s largest billboard corporation — which explains the high-tech gloss that has finally arrived at the stadium. It feels strangely like attending a Blackpink concert.