Muay Thai World Amateurs Championships 2010
The second World Amateur Muay Thai Championship in Bangkok started yesterday despite antigovernment protests still continuing. The World Amateur Muay Thai Championship organizers have even gone so far as to say they would invite the protesters to attend the event free of charge.
The event opened with some of the all time Muay Thai greats performing at the opening ceremony including Khaosai Galaxy, Samart Payakaroon and Somluck Kamsing. Despite turmoil surrounding demonstrations from anti-government supporters the event still drew avid attention from visiting foreigners as well as the people of Bangkok.
The championship is seeing participation of 200 male and 56 female athletes, 45 trainers, 40 officials from various countries and 60 observers.
The Muay Thai event, hosted by Thailand’s Department of Physical Education, has intentionally excluded participation of any of the rivaling Muay Thai associations of the country to avoid potential conflicts.
Coinciding with this the World Muay Thai Council is mounting efforts once again to get International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition for the sport of Muay Thai in hopes of getting Muay Thai entry as an Olympic Sport. Among some of the more spirited speeches Chettha Thanajaro offered this:
“Muay Thai is ready for the Olympics,” Gen Chettha Thanajaro, president of the World Muaythai Council (WMC), said at a recent workshop titled Muay Thai Towards Olympic Recognition.
Gen Chetta Thanajaro added: “We have received the Royal support of His Royal Highness Crown Prince.”
All good rhetoric but the reality of it is that there are 60 IOC-recognised sports none of which have made an entry into the Olympics either including Basque pelota, tug of war, floorball, netball, sumo, water skiing, lifesaving and surfing. And with the IOC actively cutting sports from the Olympics Muay Thai’s inclusion seems less than likely. There is in fact a movement by the Olympics staff to reduce sports from their programs as a necessity to even complete programs on time.
While adding Muay Thai to the Olympic Sports is certainly a laudable effort I personally question if it really does much for Muay Thai at all. Muay Thai came to prominence and wider spread practice through rugged ring sport and proven effectiveness adapted even in mixed martial arts. I can see a future for Muay Thai as Olympic sport that has essentially reduced the western boxing version to point tag. Olympic boxing is analogous to point sparring in karate as a contact sport. I would dread to see Muay Thai becoming that even as an amateur sport. Even more cause for alarm should be the WMC’s involvement with an at best spotty record as a commission. Though to be fair in my linked sources Stephen Fox’s name is not mentioned any where.
In my opinion a desire to see Muay Thai in the Olympics does more harm than good. In exchange for the recognition Muay Thai will be forced to sacrifice its very terminology to even be considered by the IOC. Specifically at issue is the word “Thai” which denotes Muay Thai’s nation of origin: Thailand, something specifically against IOC rules. Thailand and its culture is the core of Muay Thai’s origins and even in its current existence. If that is what lies in wait for Muay Thai as an IOC recognized sport it can hardly be considered a step forward for Muay Thai since it won’t even be called that.
For the sake of consideration let us assume that the WMC and their amateur branch International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur (IFMA )succeed at getting the IOC to recognize Muay Thai. If the IOC bid does succeed Muay Thai won’t be called Thaiboxing, Muay Thai or Muay Siam or basically anything that is integral to Muay Thai, it’s nation of origin. Is it really worth it to get Muay Thai recognized as an Olympic Sport on the IFMA 2 year plan of action? When what you’re losing is a name instantly recognizable as Thailand’s national combat sport reknown for it’s rich Thai heritage and effectiveness? And if it’s not called Muay Thai what will it be called? It would seem that it couldn’t be called kickboxing. As host to the first Asian Martial Art Games kickboxing was recognized as it’s own unique sport and provided a separate category from Muay Thai and WuShu.
The attempt to get around this rule has been made: combining Muay Thai to a singular word ‘muaythai’ and removing the grammar rules of capitalization. But even with the name “Muay Thai” made lower case and combined into a single compound word does anyone honestly have any doubts to what the ‘thai’ portion of ‘muaythai’ means? I forsee a 2 year overture made by the WMC that is going to prove futile and ultimately meaningless. And I am positive I’m going to get an even larger barrage of hatemail than usual for saying it but I’m glad for it. And I won’t outright block or delete responses.
Muay Thai is a Thai sport and art. Muay Thai is one of the most rugged ring sports in the world. I see little to nothing to gain by turning it into an IOC recognized and watered down version of itself.
Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.