Every week we gather your best questions and ask an IFMA executive for their answers to gain a fresh perspective into everything IFMA and Muaythai. To submit your questions please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, go to our Facebook page or Tweet your question to @MuaythaiAmateur!
Q&A with the President of IFMA
This week’s Q&A segment is with Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan, the president of IFMA. Dr. Tapsuwan has presided over IFMA for several years and we asked him some questions.
Question 1: Everyone knows that you are a very humble person, but have done so much for sport in Thailand and internationally. Can you tell us more about your sporting background?
I have been involved in sport all my life. As a young man, I graduated from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, with a BA in Physical Education and a Masters in Audio Visual. I then did a Ph.D. at Oregon State University in P.E. and Sports Administration.
As a Thai, I practised Muaythai since my childhood. I was a Muaythai referee, working at the famous Lumpinee Stadium, and teaching the history and culture of Muaythai at many universities.
Beside my Muaythai background, I have held many other positions. I was a Vice President for AIBA for more than 15 years at the Olympic level. I was Vice President of the Olympic Committee of Thailand, Technical Director for the Asian and SEA Games, and involved in the Sports Committee of the Olympic Committee of Asia. What many people may not know is that I’m also a certified FIFA referee.
Sport has always been my life and I’m honoured to be the President of the sole recognised world federation for Muaythai. I can proudly say that Muaythai would never have been able to come so far without the hard work of all our member countries.
Question 2: What is the royal involvement in Muaythai?
Besides my role in IFMA, I am also the President of the sole national Amateur Muaythai Association of Thailand (AMTAT), which is under the royal patronage of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Thanks to his patronage, we are in possession of the royal trophy known as the Prince’s Cup. His Majesty the King of Thailand also graciously donated a royal trophy in his own name, which was used for the first time when we applied for recognition from the IOC.
We are therefore very honoured to be under royal patronage.
Question 3: IFMA has become truly recognised. Do you think that Muaythai has a chance to become IOC recognised?
I personally believe that we have a very good chance of becoming recognised by the IOC in the very near future. It is important to have a strong, clear structure in place, from the bottom to the top. For example, in Thailand our national federation AMTAT is the sole Muaythai association recognised by the National Olympic Committee of Thailand and the National Sport Authority of Thailand. In turn, AMTAT is a member of the Federation of Amateur Muaythai of Amateur (FAMA), which is the Asian continental federation, recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia. FAMA is a member of IFMA, and IFMA is a member of SportAcccord, which is a partner organisation of the IOC. This is the way in which sporting structure works, and the way in which a national federation is connected to the international world of sports. This same structure exists in full in 84 of our member countries.
IFMA has done wonderful work in its youth and female development. IFMA represents Muaythai in WADA, and we firmly believe in making a social contribution, so we work with Peace and Sport and Generations for Peace. Muaythai through IFMA has truly developed on all five continents.
We launched our application last year in a special event which was fully supported by Thailand and the international community. We have a strong international office at work, and I hope that very soon we can celebrate.
Question 4: What kind of cooperation is there between IFMA and other martial arts?
IFMA is part of the SportAccord Combat Group, in which the 15 Olympic and non-Olympic world-recognised combat sports work closely together.
This cooperation is important for martial arts and the combat sports themselves, and so IFMA takes it seriously. We are soon coming to the second edition of the World Combat Games, in which our elite athletes will participate, and where the elite athletes of all the other federations will meet and celebrate martial arts combat and one thousand years of history and cultural exchange.
We are looking forward to being in Saint Petersburg in October. We will be able to show the importance of this event, not just for martial arts, but for the entire sporting world, as the IOC has once again given its patronage to the games.
Question 5: As a Thai, are you worried that one day Thailand will lose its stronghold in Muaythai?
As a Thai, and I think I speak for our entire nation, we are very proud that Muaythai truly has become internationally recognised, and is on the way to becoming IOC recognised. The cultural milestones will never be touched: the Wai Khru and monkong are part of our sport. But these do not only belong to Thailand anymore, they belong to the world. This is why we write Muaythai as one word, as the name of an artform. There is so much more to Muaythai than just competition. It includes fitness, self-defence, and this is why we were also included in TAFISA, Sport For All, which is a partner of the IOC.
I remember back to when Thailand won every match at the World Championships. Now Russia, Belarus, Sweden, Canada, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Australia and China, just to name a few, can go toe to toe with Thailand. We have a real competition. That is what sport is all about. We have lost over all team championships in the last decade many times, and this also keeps Thailand on its toes, to ensure that we keep improving to keep up with the ever growing standard.
Question 6: Where do you see the future of Muaythai going?
We are on the right track. The Southeast Asian games, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, TAFISA, Arafura, and the World Combat Games, are just some of the events in which we are included. Through SportAccord we have access to the making connections with the World Games, the University Games and the Commonwealth Games. Obviously the dream of every sport is the Olympics. However, we have set ourselves clear milestones which we have reached so far. We want to promote Muaythai not just as a competition sport, as it’s a cultural art form: Muay Boran, Krabi Krabong, are all part of our educational program.
Muaythai for every body is not just a slogan for us. You’re never too young, you’re never too old, and you are never too fit or unfit. We don’t know borders or social differences. We are one family, so Muaythai truly is for everybody.
Send us your questions for next week!