Muay Thai World Amateurs Championships 2010

By Fatsoking

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.

Amateur Thaiboxers.

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.


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~ by fatsoking on March 22, 2010.

9 Responses to “Muay Thai World Amateurs Championships 2010”

  1. I was just about to reply about the one name (Muaythai) issue but as usual you did your research and covered it all mate. 😀

    You have a lot of valid points and concerns in this article and I tend to agree with most but I do not think that Muaythai in the Olympics is a bad thing IF the rules and scoring can stay untouched!

    As for all the culture, history, heritage etc. within Muaythai I am VERY sure that it all has to go if Muaythai is to develop into anything similar to MMA scale wise!

    Imagine the UFC with weird Greek clothes, weird and quite annoying music, talks about paying homage to the Spartans, referees using Greek commands to dictate the action in the Octagon etc. etc……..! 😉

    • To tell you the truth I am leaning against Muay thai in the Olympics. I honestly think it stands to hurt the sport more than help it. Amateur Muay Thai quite honestly has a bigger number of competitors and audience in the west than Pro Muay Thai does. The Olympics won’t do anything for it. The traditionalist in me believes that Muay Thai’s identity is integral with it’s country of origin and always should be.

      And as you know from my prior commentary posts I have misgivings with WMC spearheading this given their track record in regards to professional Muay Thai.

      You do bring up an interesting point though with MMA – they have nothing in the way of foothold among amateur competitors and the rules are so not at all unified. It seems in most MMA communities. The amateur primer is kickboxing, wrestling and BJJ. Thanks for coming by!

  2. Yes the WMC heading this project is not good but who else can do it?
    You know where I stand on the whole WMC BS: I am a dissident but only because I love the sport and want it to grow so that more people can live off of their passion – just like most other sports. And as for the WMC there are loads to improve, LOADS!

    Don’t you think that more people will get to know Muaythai from watching it at the Olympics and that it will attract more new students worldwide? 🙂

    • I really don’t think the Olympic version will be found to be very inspiring or interesting. With all the gear on it’s almost like watching 2 Michelin men fighting in my biased opinion.

  3. Then let’s get pro Muaythai into the Olympics. 😀

  4. I agree with the writer that Muoy Thai should not make it to the Olympic but remain as it is. Muay Thai is too good to be curtailed in its characteristic.

  5. Actually Mike and I are close friends and we agree on 99.9 % of the Muaythai issues. The Olympics is not what can save Muaythai (’cause it NEEDS to be saved!!!). The Olympics is a personal agenda courtesy of Mr. Stephan Fox – NOBODY cares about the progress of this project except for the people onboard IFMA and WMC boards who are too afraid to be against Fox. It’s all really childish and it’s amazing that it’s been going on for SO many years.

    Muaythai needs to clean up it’s act: we have NO credible sanctioning body! Not even one. And really, it’s not that difficult to see why: All things run from Thailand is corrupt – it’s their nature. It’s a developing country; the Thais are afraid to loose face; it’s THEIR sport; lack of up to date marketing skills; lack of up to date technology etc. etc. etc.

    Muaythai will only be mainstream on parr with let’s say MMA WHEN and IF we remove ourselves from Thailand run organisations and get an independent investor (like the Fertitas brothers who owns and runs Zuffa – mothercompany of UFC etc.) which is willing to market the sport as an international product! And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that all the budhism traditions including the music, dance, mong kong etc. NEEDS TO GO. It ONLY appeal to us hardcore fans and the Thais!

    How can ANYONE seriously believe that Thais can run a global sports organisation when they can’t even uphold law and order in their own country!!!

    The sheenanigans need to stop so we can all move forward with a sport that, and I’ve ALWAYS been against this, is easier to market as kickboxing (they kick and punch – that’s what people see) and forget about all the nonsense about budhism and traditions – it’s a sport now. Who gives a flying F*** in fotball about history etc. when the game is about to start / when it’s on?? NOBODY.

    • To be clear the Olympics is broadly assumed to add credibility to Muay Thai. But in a real world measurement it has done virtually nothing for international boxing which has now been effectively reduced to point sparring with interspersed posing ( to capture the point for judges who know nothing of boxing). I expect Muay Thai to be virtually the same case at the SportAccord and from past IFMA events this can be reliably measured. In either case scenario it is in my opinion hugely unlikely Muay Thai ever become an IOC recognized sport.

      My point with IFMA/WMC is simple: If the WMC cannot sort out professional Muay Thai (and in my opinion they’ve definitively proven they cannot) why are they tampering with amateur Muay Thai? While I will always support amateurs trying to achieve something in the sport including at IFMA events its honestly a huge farce. Why are Buakaw, Yodsaenklai, and Saenchai being dispatched to participate in this event? Where’s the amateur portion of IFMA except against the amateur competitors who believe me the Thai contingent will summarily make very short work of?

      Next look at the American selected Team. Why is it there is so much California presence? There are after all 50 states in the union which consists of an entire continent. Its evidence to me that the IFMA is again being used by its officers and representatives to maintain or create a fiefdom in which they select who goes, who doesn’t and their home gym looks good. Plainly put its unfair and dishonest.

      Here is one point I disagree a bit with you on larsenator. Muay Thai cannot grow solely on retitling and remarketing it. The WMC has attempted this by making Muay Thai into the bastardized term of ‘muaythai’. And routine injections of reality TV they ‘sanction’. In this way they hope they can get past the National origin very evident in Muay Thai. See other Olympic events work because they don’t have that inherent national identity as much. there is no Japanese ‘karate’, ‘American ‘boxing’, or Greek ‘Shotput’. Muay Thai by its very nature is part of the Thai identity and always will be no matter how much bureaucratic rubbish Fox indulges himself in.

      Marketing can work only if the product marketed has tangible worth and integrity. In the case of WMC it hasn’t got that. To me marketing is the proverbial frosting on the cake. If your cake has no content the frosting sits on an empty cake. Muay Thai will gain worldwide acknowledgement when as a whole when it deserves it. I love Muay Thai and always will but frankly it doesn’t deserve it with acts like the WMC representing it.

      I agree with you wholly that the clan destine way of controlling Muay Thai by the WMC is an immense mistake with exclusive contracts and a complete lack of rankings central to any true independent sanction. I had hoped this article would prompt WMC and the parties within it to improve their shortfall but predictable of Fox and his ilk he instead launched into a tirade about bureaucracy which honestly only further emphasized WMC’s short sightedness, lack of integrity and interest in doing the right thing. I am hopeful that some where in the west that we frankly take things into our own hands. Muay Thai will never take international root until it does happen and the current run of WMC and IFMA prevents it.

  6. Í agree mate!

    About the marketing you still talk as if I think it should be sanctioned by an org. which I really don’t think it should: To my knowledge there is no credible Muaythai sanctioning body these days – never has been. MANY countries, I’d say most of Europe (the worlds biggest continent) doens’t require a sanctioning body to promote: Simply a police approval which can only be gained if it is proven that safety regulations are strictly followed (doctors, medical check etc.).

    I’m thinking WAY out of the box here – pure utopia but it’s what my passionate Muaythai heart truly believs in. 🙂

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