Referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai is a combat technique that uses punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes combined with a strict discipline. It gained prominence in the 16th century but morphed into a sport fought for entertainment as it spread from Southeast Asia. Muay Thai boxers began defeating established practitioners of other combat styles, ushering in a rare wave of foreign fighters, known here as Nak Muay Farang.
These few Nak Muay Farang (“foreign boxers”) make their way to Thailand to train under some of the most experienced and well-versed instructors in the world. For Richard Heaps, a young fighter from New Zealand, Muay Thai is a way of striving towards self-improvement. And though he’s trained for nearly three years, he says there is still much to perfect before being considered a true fighter.
This is his life as a foreign fighter in Thailand, in and out of the ring.