In The World Of Muay Thai, A Good Referee is Worth A Hundred Champions!

Benattia Mustapha catches a middle-kick by De Carli and then prepares to retaliate with a punch while referee Marco De Cesaris looks on.


The one person who should control a Muay Thai match and the results other than the inevitable knock-out, is the referee, regardless of the judges decision. A good referee makes a match exciting by bringing out the best in both the fighters, and making sure that they are both safe and at ease.

The referee is also there to prevent both fighters from cheating,  by watching for the hidden elbow , knee strike or standing on the opponents foot to prevent him from moving.

  In the photos above, the referee (Tony Moore of the BTBC) checks that the toe nails of   each fighter are neatly cut, so as to not cut or cause an injury to the opponent. One of Americas first officially recognized Muay Thai referee's Mr. Will Donahue from Philadelphia PA, checks on the gloves of each fighter  in Niagara Falls, New York, to make sure they are tied or taped correctly so as to prevent eye injuries to either fighter.

Below in photo one; The referee places himself at a distant corner with respect to the fighters as they prepare to perform the ritual Wai Kru and Ram Muay. The referee still remains vigilant, but does not obstruct the ritual. In photo two; the referee calls both fighters to the center of the ring and prepares to give his briefing. In photo three; The referee gives  his briefing by means of verbal and visual explanation of the main points of the rules. e.g. "In the case of a knock-down the man standing shall go to the farthest neutral corner and stay there until I tell him to come out, I shall not begin the count  until you are in the neutral corner"

As one referee once said, " It is unfortunate that a lot of fighters are often shown the under-handed side of fighting, for instance in the art of Muay Thai fighters will try to twist their opponents leg to bring him to the ground or into the ropes, with the clear intention of dropping down on their opponents chest or stomach to try and knock the wind of of him".

A referee with this insight on an aggressive fighter will always keep himself in full view of that fighter, always keep himself in full view of that fighter, letting him know that he is watching, without having to revert to a verbal warning. You will see this in the most experienced fighters use tactics like these especially when the going gets tough for one of them, he will use such tricks designed to help him catch his breath. One trick frequently used is the spitting out of the gum shield, if the referee sees this action and deems that the fighter did this intentionally, he will either ignore the move or break the fighters and warn the fighter for an infringement and or dock a point from his score card.

Copyright 1998 USMTA Inc. All rights reserved.   Revised: October 16, 2004.