When you step into the large, dark basement hall where Friday Night Fights are held in New York City, you immediately feel the energy in the room.
Fighters and fans alike roam through the informal setting, but the big ring, the blasting music, and the ice cold beer remind you this is no amateur production.
Since 1997, Friday Night Fights (FNF) has been putting on Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts events throughout the country, but in 2011 it decided to focus exclusively on Muay Thai kickboxing events.
Once a month in New York City, they organise their namesake production, Friday Night Fights, one of the more incredible spectacles on offer in the city.
Muay Thai is a form of martial arts from Thailand, known as “the art of eight limbs” (or weapons) because fighters can utilise punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes, providing eight different points of contact.
Unlike Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is illegal in New York State, Muay Thai competitors cannot grapple on the ground but must stay upright and fighting throughout the match.
Mixed Martial Arts has been steadily growing as a popular form of entertainment, particularly with the growth of brands like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Justin Blair, president of FNF, told Business Insider that as a result of MMA’s rise in popularity, Muay Thai, which can be more palatable to some fans, has great potential to gain audience.
Friday Night Fights events feature amateurs and pros, with about 10-15 matches per event – two or more being professional bouts. More often than not, even the pros are not full-time Muay Thai boxers and have side jobs ranging from martial arts instructors to engineers. There are even some prominent bankers among the fighters.
We attended the league’s opening event for the 2013 season in January to see what the fights and the fighters are all about:
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