Keep your shorts on

One of the things I love about Thai boxing (‘Muay Thai’) is the shorts. I feel the heavily designed versions seep into regular boxing a little bit as well, but nowhere near as much as in Thai boxing.

Words by: Mike Mckee
Photos by: Lucas Noonan

Whenever I visit Thailand’s famous fighting arena, Lumpine stadium, I’m was always amazed by the fancy designs the fighters have on their shorts proclaiming their provenance – the name of their gym, their names, sponsors and other pieces of factual information. All in fancy colors and literally with tassles on.

The first time I saw this I was immediately fascinated with these “fancy shorts”. So much more interesting and better than the regular generic Thai boxing shorts you often see in most stockists of Muay Thai gear in the UK and USA.

I started my training at a very strict martial arts school in northern England and uniform was always very important as a part of our discipline. Thinking about it makes me think back to my first fight in the ring on May 22nd 1991. Of course I was on parade in my training school’s red shorts with the name of the gym embroidered in the center. There was never an excuse for not having impeccable kit.

I remember jumping off the scales and being weighed in at an impressive 140lbs and the first thing I said to my scowling well ‘ard faced opponent was “Oi what colour shorts do you lot fight in?” This totally threw him off provoking him to stutter “any really”. Long story short he climbed through the ropes that night in a washed out old pair of sky blue shorts and I thought,

“ugh what a scruffy sod.” I should have been looking at his face, footwork or physique but I didn’t even manage that until after the bell!

Since those early fetal days of my fighting career my style has moved more and more to designing my own and other people’s shorts for the ring. I’m very passionate about it. So much so that I have a crazily large collection and make sure all the guys I train get their own.

In fact, I’d highly recommend you try it. You can order your own shorts and design them for yourselves direct from Thailand at You can customize everything from size to colors, design, stripes, fabrics, trimmings, fonts to languages. After about four weeks your shorts will show up at your delivery address from a small factory in Bangkok. You’ll feel great seeing your creation come to life, believe me.

Personally I tend to always have a mix of lettering in both Thai and English with my nickname, “MUSTANG” (long story…), surname and gym camp in English and the rest in Thai saying (I hope!!) “ENGLAND” and “MANCHESTER”

What the hell does this have to do with me writing a piece for the fitness column
of the duncan quinn website you may ask? Its simple really … a bespoke suit and all the small personal details it contains make you feel unique and special the same way my own specially designed one-off shorts make me feel. Well, that and the fact that if I spar and don’t do as well as I’d like to at least I look classy and sharp as I hit the canvas!!

Mike McKee is a senior Instructor in the Muay Thai program at the Renzo Gracie school in Manhattan.

Words by Mike Mckee Photos by Lucas Noonan