A spectacular event saw the flags of 78 nations carried on stage by some of the athletes competing for their countries, and in the true spirit of fair play a troupe of young people from the Sport Is Your Gang project took centre stage.
The packed auditorium at the Grand Oasis hotel gave a standing ovation to one young man Daniel Castillo Espinoza in recognition of his huge achievement in overcoming physical obstacles and learning muaythai.
Elisa Salinas, head off the Mexican muaythai federation and also of the Confederation of South American Muaythai welcomed the athletes to Mexico, and encouraged them to enjoy themselves and make friends as well as focusing on sport. She reminded them of the central message of muaythai which is based around friendship and honour, not simply winning medals.
State govenor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez said that sport should be a right for all young people, but that sadly in many countries it is still seen as a luxury. He praised the SIYG programme for teaching and working with children from so-called ‘at-risk” areas.
To remind of us of how unfairly life can seem to stack against some children, one boy came on stage to make clear that obstacles are there to overcome. David Castillo Espinoza demonstrated his muaythai skills and passion, along with his muaythai peers.
The athletes were entertained by a fascinating and exciting display of traditional Muay Boran – the troupe travelled from Thailand to tour the South American region.
Fireworks brought the exciting evening to a close and the athletes to their feet. No doubt this was a fantastic start to the evening, and a sign of things to come for this the first muaythai world championships to be held in the Pan-American region.