Muaythai was a martial art used by soldiers in South East Asia particularly what is now Thailand and is accepted as being at least one thousand years old. References to muaythai as a sport can be found in the Three Seals Laws dating from the Ayuttaya period (1351–1767) in Thailand. Today’s athletes compete in a sport developed under monarchs like King Prachao Sua / The Tiger King (1697-1709). They participate in the spirit of Nai Khanom Tom who, according to legend, defeated 10 opponents to win his freedom following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767.
In early 1900s rules were imposed creating a modern sport recognisable in today's events. IFMA was founded in 1993, and amateur bouts were adapted to include the wearing of protective gear and competing in 3-rounds instead of five. Women compete under the same rules as the men at IFMA events.