IFS and the Tale of the Delay Paid Writer
By Mike LNg
Opinion time and commentary is something I actually make effort to avoid. In Muay Thai the truth is in the ring. I would prefer to let the actions in the ring speak for itself where possible and feasible. But I often find myself compelled by own conscience and unwillingness to let wrong occur and never comment on it. By the same token when good in the sport happens I feel compelled to let it be known that any organization or person’s good efforts deserve recognition. I find myself having to remind myself, yes there are still good people in the sport of Muay Thai and I struggle more often than I should at separating basically alphabet soup sanctions eager to assess fees and trinkets and little else from what Muay Thai is as a sport.
Despite the actual decisions or even on paper outcomes the ring dispels falsehood and illuminates reality with the simple truth of what happens in the time frame between two fighters in the ring. It’s a truth that is as transcendent as it is basic and elegant in its simplicity. Building on this fights are what makes promotions valid or invalid. So what happens when truth is found inadequate in building the excitement a meaningful card can bring? You market and market heavily. Be warned what follows is my biased opinion on a recent happening in advance of the International Fight Showdown (IFS) card.
In no previous post I have ever had have I ever mentioned positively or negatively commented on any event the IFS has ever done. Simply put, I believe in truth in advertising. There is no truth to an international fights showdown that includes primarily amateurs and features almost exclusively California talent. Hence, its not worth comment on and in truth much needed experience is afforded to young fighters coming up or just wanting to test the waters competitively. After all what’s the use in telling a short person they are short? It won’t make them grow taller. Any meaningful change in terms of purpose has to be willful. The truth in advertising in these shows so far with IFS I see no sign of changing despite the newly coined IFS Pro slogan.
The IFS is now at a critical stage where they can build an even bigger audience in Northern California’s Muay Thai scene. With War of the Heroes seemingly indefinitely shelved due to payment issues of insurance on a severely injured fighter on their event, it could be quite some time before Californians may see another War of the Heroes event. Perhaps, never depending on how the issue is ultimately resolved. For anyone wishing to see the public records detailing the incident from the California State Athletic Commission. The archives on hearings and judgements should be publicly accessible by the time of this writing.
The IFS seemed to acknowledge the need for publicity and press moving forward with their event. So making full use of young and hungry writers the IFS proposed that they offer write ups of the event to many sites covering Muay Thai in the USA including my site, mymuaythai.com, and a host of others. However, this was with one important caveat: all articles written were subject to the IFS editorial thumbs up before publication. In effect, the IFS would determine what any site would have to say through these writers.
Enter Lauren Tharp, young and hungry and eager to make a good impression on a prospective client. Lauren had made her offer to me and I respectfully told her I would be very willing to link to her press write up but that I cannot do a verbatim copy and paste of a press release. And I was also equally frank about my issue with IFS’ truth in advertising (specifically for me the lack thereof). After all I like and admire fighters such as Baxter Humby very much. It then became apparent to me that she had thus far not received payment despite actually getting her press release published on an MMA site.
Lauren therefore decided to make public her struggles with payment and her need of income as is typical of a young struggling writer. The issues she experienced in the fight industry such as it is, are not unlike fighters. Speaking out brings risk that can include a blacklisting or other forms of sabotage that can impact careers to the point of ending them. For my opinion, it’s wrong. In a broader sense beyond even hurting Muay Thai, it hurts people. People, that most of the time want to do good and achieve what they can. And people that want to bring their love and enthusiasm for Muay Thai to their craft in writing. Ultimately, Lauren made her resignation public.
I am often asked what is the problem with USA Muay Thai. Why isn’t it growing like it should? Surely in America we have the population density and diversity that a special group of fighters and fights are going to emerge from this country. And ultimately begin their conquest of the world in the sport they dearly love. My answer isn’t a lack of media coverage, a lack of decent paydays, sanctioning and regulatory corruption or even a lack of love for the sport. To me those are symptoms of a larger issue. In the USA we are too dishonest to others and with ourselves. Until this problem can be abated or resolved in a meaningful way the problem will be perpetual. A quick rule that should be applied and that everyone should hopefully know by now is simple: if you wouldn’t do it for free, don’t expect others to do it for free.
Thankfully, Lauren’s courageous stance paid off and payment due her was received. I am doubtful the IFS would have responded at all had it not been for Lauren standing up for herself. And I respect that courage because I know it was not an easy step to take. And it was not without risk.
Lauren is also a previously published publicist working with Champions of Champions’ promotion where her pieces still reside to this date. I am hopeful this has not soured Lauren on Muay Thai and her craft as it specifically applies to it. Muay Thai needs people who write well and can add interest to fights. Press and promotions go hand in hand and always will. It also needs people that tell the truth no matter how they are gag-ordered, threatened or have payment withheld.