The fighters were beautiful – sleek, powerful, cut bodies – and their kicks were more powerful than their punches. They came to the tattered ring after being oiled and massaged by their trainers on the side of the dirt arena under a large covered tent on a hot sultry night. Young boys watched in awe hoping to be boxers themselves. They dressed in elaborately decorated and colorful satin trunks and were wrapped with a towel over their shoulders. They wore a matching robe and a downward-pointing braid, a headdress of sorts, attached to their coal-black hair.
They danced up to the ring; their trainers disrobed them; the referee checked their gloves and their cups under their shorts; music began to play – traditional Khmer folk music. The boxers bowed in reverence before entering the ring, then bowed in all four corners. They began stretching in graceful dance-like motions, splaying their legs forward and behind, moving their gloved hands in a circular motion, crouching and reaching up simultaneously. Their ‘dances’ were recognizable steps in preparation of a kick – swift, powerful, and effective. They were graceful and cocky, yet had the concentration of a monk. The final stretch was a bow to the audience before they began their round.
Before the competition of Muay-Thai each competitor must perform the "Wai-Kru" ritual and perform the ancient boxing dance. "Wai-Kuru" is a way to pay respect to his majesty the king or the chairman of the competition tournament. "Wai-Kru" is the way to realize the goodness of the master who gave them knowledge. It's also the way to strengthen their mind. The style of the dance is unique for each boxing master. The boxers who dance the same style wouldn't box each other since they realize that they have the same master. Furthermore, to the dance is a means to warm up before starting the fight. It also helps to relax the stress and to prepare body and mind to ready their selves for battle.