Blending sport with culture and education is one of the important foundations of the Olympic movement. Muaythai is a martial art and sport which strongly and consistently demonstrates culture, tradition and education.
Sport of all kind (and you can witness this, especially in muaythai) thrives in the spirit of fair play and ethical behavior, and promotes the importance of grace in winning and losing.
Muaythai originated more than 1000 years ago when the people of Siam used a superior fighting art to forge an independent country which has developed into the modern Thailand we know today. Thai people are very proud of their national sport, yet they take even more pride in the fact that muaythai has truly become an international sport, and hence now belongs to the world. Through muaythai, practitioners from all parts of the globe have learned of the values and traditions which play a very important part in the sport.
IFMA became a true member of the world sporting community when GAISF / SportAccord accepted IFMA and muaythai as a member. Presently IFMA has 128 member countries worldwide, and 5 continental federations operating under a sole and unified regulatory body. Fair play is paramount in muaythai and IFMA is proud of their strict drug-free sport campaign, for instance, in 1999, IFMA established a Muaythai Against Drugs campaign in which over 80 countries participate. The campaign is based on awareness and education, taking kids from the streets and using the values of muaythai to integrate them back into healthy society.
IFMA prides itself in running a worldwide youth development program which is based upon long-forgotten values and is not restricted by borders, religions, political or social differences. The success of this program was demonstrated in 2005 when the Tsunami hit Asia and muaythai kids from around the world donated $2m worth of care packages to their little brothers and sisters in South East Asia. Charity programs are conducted around the globe, whether it’s to help children out of the sewage system in Ukraine or from the street in Johannesburg, or donating computers for kids in need in Jamaica. Sport can make a difference.
Muaythai has great spectator appeal, major broadcasters from ESPN, FoxSports, Eurosport and many other networks have made muaythai part of their regular programming schedules. Muaythai has a reality show which draws audiences of over 400m people in 40 countries. Stadiums in major cities are sold out for muaythai events.
IFMA also prides itself in having a very active female movement and at the last IFMA world championships, from the 14 weight divisions, 9 of these included female fighters. Muaythai’s appeal to the fitness industry has taken muaythai to all leading fitness centres around the world as part of their exercise programs, both in group classes and one-to-one training, as it is one of the highest calorie burning workouts suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Muaythai has many aspects: self defence; fitness; competition; culture or art form, or simply just a way of life. They keystones of muaythai are honour, tradition, friendship, respect, fair play and excellence. All these components are crucial to the Olympic movement. The next important milestone for Muaythai and IFMA will be to obtain full recognition from the IOC.