The International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (“IFMA”) started as a small federation with several enthusiastic countries more than two decades ago. It was officially inaugurated in 1993. After the passage of the first half of its life and at the dawn of an exciting new century, IFMA has grown to 128 member countries worldwide with 5 continental federations, all existing under a single, unified regulatory body. In 1998, IFMA was formally recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia.
Muaythai through IFMA has come a long way from its first World Championships held in 1993 when a mere twenty-some countries participated. In the most recent World Championships the participation was overwhelming, with contestants and dignitaries attending from almost one hundred countries.
A significant progression in the globalisation of Muaythai happened in 2005 at the 23rd South East Asian Games in Manila when, for the first time since the inception of IFMA, Muaythai had the status of a fully-recognised medal sport, in which both genders could compete in Muaythai and the Wai Khru, representing their countries over a wealth of different divisions.
The highest milestone for IFMA came in 2006, when it was recognised by SportAccord (known at the time as the General Association of International Sports Federations, GAISF). Thus IFMA could proudly and officially come to the table with all other world-recognised international sports federations.
Another exciting year for Muaythai was 2008, with the IFMA World Championships a part of The Association for International Sport for All’s (“TAFISA”) World Sport for All Games under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”). This raised the profile of Muaythai as an internationally recognised sport, through the activities of IFMA to promote Muaythai as a medium for cultural exchange and to raise awareness about this aspect of Thai tradition.
Furthermore, IFMA was readily praised by luminaries such as representatives from the IOC itself, for its work with children from marginalised or disadvantaged backgrounds , promoting Muaythai for youth as a route for positive social development. IFMA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Peace and Sport Organisation (L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport) in January 2011. This understanding between the two organisations is seen as a great step forward in the quest to continue making a difference in the lives of children through exposure to the sport, its values, culture and the traditions that are the core of Muaythai.
IFMA’s cultural exchange program involving kids from over 40 countries received high accolades from both private and public sector IOC members. Such exchanges include, amongst others, a program between Jamaica and Thailand where Thai children selected from the Muaythai Against Drugs program provided a demonstration alongside Jamaican children. This integration between cultural exchange programs and IFMA’s activities combating social ills, is an important element in our objectives. It will be aided further by the future of our partnership with Peace and Sport. April 2012 marked the launch of IFMA’s latest social project in cooperation with the Peace & Sport Organisation, entitled “Sport Is Your Gang”; a project utilising Muaythai to improve the lives of disadvantaged and marginalised youths.
Yet another major milestone was marked for Muaythai and IFMA in 2010, with the SportAccord Combat games in Beijing. IFMA’s Muaythai event received accolades from SportAccord and the Beijing Organising Committee for having the largest numbers of participants and spectator attendance. The King’s Cup 2010 event in Bangkok marked another ground breaking milestone when, for the first time in history, the event was telecast live via satellite to some 4,000 viewers in the United States.
In April 2012, IFMA marked the official launch of the ‘Muaythai towards IOC’ campaign at a special gala event in which IFMA lodged its Letter of Intent to apply for IOC recognition to IOC Member Dr CK Wu. At the same time, an application to be included in the 2017 World Games was handed to Mr. Ron Froehlich, President of the International World Games Association.
IFMA’s objective is the total unification of all 128 member national federations, working mutually for the sport and the athletes. The enthusiasm and commitment of the members, boxers and officials is one of the greatest assets that IFMA brings to the ancient sport of Muaythai.
IFMA is proud to bear the responsibility and duty of being the sole world-recognised international amateur Muaythai federation, promoting the sport and art of Muaythai around the globe.