Professional sports leagues have traditionally gone to great lengths to ensure every athlete who competes in every event is completely drug-free. But in Thailand, promoters of a new boxing competition are taking the exact opposite approach.
The Weed Boxing Championship, which will be held at the Samui International Muay Thai Stadium on the island of Koh Samui this weekend, will actually require every participant to get high before entering the ring. The classical boxing tournament has only two simple rules: First, participants are obliged to take at least one bong rip or puff a joint. And second, the opponents must then face off for three rounds of three minutes apiece.
The weed-friendly match acknowledges the fact that cannabis and combat sports fit like hand in glove. Sports fans and commentators regularly find themselves getting hotboxed by the copious amount of pot smoke at UFC fights, and the locker rooms at these matches are equally dank. Most of the biggest names in combat sports, from heavyweight legend Mike Tyson to MMA fighters Nick and Nate Diaz to recent UFC bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley, all openly acknowledge their love of weed on the regular.
Pot testing also used to be a regular part of every professional athlete's life, and many weed-loving fighters like Nick Diaz have gotten suspended time and time again after testing positive for THC. Sports authorities have finally started to chill out about weed, though. The UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decided to stop punishing fighters over weed in 2021, and the NFL, MLB, and NBA have all recently established similar policies as well.
Unfortunately, that progress hasn't completely stopped athletes from having to take piss tests. Just a few months ago, Texas authorities forced Nate Diaz to take a THC test before competing in a pro boxing match, even though the UFC no longer enforces those rules. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is way less chill about weed than American leagues as well. WADA infamously suspended Olympic athlete Sha'Carri Richardson for smoking a joint, and then refused to update its outdated weed rules despite the resulting controversy.
Fighters who are participating in the Weed Boxing Championship don't need to sweat about failing a piss test, though. The match is for amateurs only, so WADA regulations don't apply. But that also means that spectators won't have a chance to watch Mike Tyson face off against one of the Diaz brothers after sharing a joint.
The event also highlights how progressive Thailand's cannabis laws are, especially when compared to its neighbors. The Southeast Asian country has fully embraced cannabis, having legalized medical marijuana in 2018 and then fully decriminalized the plant in 2022. In stark contrast, most of Thailand's neighbors regularly sentence people to death over relatively small quantities of weed. In Singapore, for example, authorities are planning to execute nearly 50 people this year for trafficking cannabis and other drugs.