A NEW FRONTIER

2 Apr 2008


It was fitting that a meeting designed to broaden the reach of Muay Thai took place next door to one of the historical stadiums that has created so many of its greatest stars.

As the doors to Rachadamnoen Stadium opened for another evening of boxing last Thursday, Minister for Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kohsurat hosted a summit at his office flanking the venue to formalize plans for traditional Muay Thai to take place in Japan for the first time.

Weerasak Kohsurat sat down with WBC Muay Thai president Pol Gen Kovid Bhakdibhumi and Japan's Chisa Yamane to put the final touches to the creation of a Japanese Professional Muay Thai Commission (JPMC) linked to the Sports Authority of Thailand.

WBC Muay Thai officials Kiate G. Sirigul and Patrick Cusick also attended the session along with boxing co-ordinator Takashi Aoshima.

Weerasak said the new initiative would be of great benefit to Thailand.
"I compare the situation to the cooking of Thai food," said the minister.
"Everybody around the world is able to cook Thai food if they wish and this is a very good thing for our country because it makes them think of where it originated from.
"However there is also the matter of standards and it is the same with Muay Thai.
"If we can play a role in developing Muay Thai in different countries, like Japan, then Thailand's profile is raised in a beneficial way.
"Our professional fighters will be able to go over there and carry our flag with pride.
"They will be able to represent the nation and this could boost tourism as people may want to investigate our cultural heritage.
"Muay Thai is not just about fighting. It is about how to live a good life and this is something we want to promote."
Weerasak also explained how a key part of the project was to encourage Japanese youngsters to take up the sport.
He said this would create a foundation for future generations to learn from.
For many years, Japan has hosted K1 kickboxing events which, although based on Muay Thai, fall some way short of the original sport.

K1 fights don't allow elbows or grappling - two of the main components of Muay Thai - and tournaments take place as a series of elimination fights (often on the same night) to determine an eventual winner.

Pol Gen Kovid, who has also just been elected as the senator for Ang Thong, said he wants to see Thailand's national sport performed in the correct manner.

"Many places have kickboxing but this is not the proper interpretation of Muay Thai," said Kovid.
"The formation of the JPMC is a big step in taking Muay Thai around the world."
That has been Kovid's mission since His Majesty the King asked him in 2001 to use his position as the vice-president of the WBC to try and promote Muay Thai all over the globe.
WBC Muay Thai was then formed to spearhead the new initiative.

Last September WBC Muay Thai broke into the America market with a pioneering show in Los Angeles headlined by champions Lamsongkram Chuwattana and Kaew Fairtex.
WBC official Patrick Cusick revealed a card is set to place in Jamaica later this year featuring Lamsongkram and Yodsaenklai Fairtex, who is currently featured on The Contender Asia series.
"This is an ongoing process and it is a matter of evolution," said Cusick.
"The people in Jamaica want to be a part of what is going on and it will be another big showcase for the sport."
Cusick also said WBC Muay Thai hope to have a show in Macau in the near future.
For now though, the focus in on Japan and what is set to develop there in the next few months.
Some Muay Thai stars have also made big names for themselves on the K1 circuit, with Surin's Buakaw Por. Pramuk the most famous.
He won the K1 World Max title twice and is a massive star in Japan.
JPMC chairman Chisa Yamane said she was very excited by the special relationship that had been forged with Thailand.
"This will take Muay Thai to a new level in Japan," said Yamane.
"We will now give licences to promoters, judges and other officials and start sanctioning fights as soon as we can.
"We are hoping this will be very big and we believe Japanese fans will love to see Muay Thai in its original form."

When the participants at the meeting finished their business they emerged onto Rachadamnoen Nok Avenue to get into waiting cars as fight fans made their way to watch the evening's Muay Thai action.
With this deal completed it won't be long before the same scene is able to take place on the streets of Tokyo.

Writtten by : Julian Turner.

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