Conquest to rule the world reaping results

8 Aug 2008


The following report was published in the Bangkok Post Daily Newspaper on 8 August 2008

The establishment of WBC Muay Thai four years ago has enabled the best of Thailand's Muay Thai talent to be showcased to the world.

While the domestic scene has been well served with regular fights around the country, the successful inclusion of Muay Thai into the World Boxing Council has shown that the culture and traditions of the Thai fighting art can stand up with the best professional ring sports of modern times.

Muay Thai can be historically traced back more than a thousand years.

The sports' reputation as a boxing genre began in the 1930s when the arm cloths were replaced by boxing gloves and the standard boxing ring with five three minute rounds replaced a dirt pitch with the contest won by the last man standing.

Later the judging followed the WBC's judging method of a 10 point must system for each round.

The rules of the ring have evolved over the decades without losing the body weapons of fists, elbows, kicks and knees.

In the 1960s, martial arts bloomed but boxing remained king of the ring with its legends represented by icons such as Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler and Floyd Mayweather.

Muay Thai kept its huge appeal with fans packing the main Bangkok stadiums of Ratchadamnoen and Lumpini every week.

But internationally Muay Thai had much of its style and form stolen in the 1970s by the arrival of kickboxing which took the kicking weapons and boxing skills from Muay Thai and allowed freewheeling kickboxing styles to develop without any defined rules. The latest version of kickboxing is the Japanese K1 which is virtually Muay Thai without grappling or the elbow weapons.

Muay Thai was further overshadowed by the slick marketing of ''ultimate fighting'' which combined Muay Thai with wrestling and submission holds.

But while combat sports changed with the fashion, Muay Thai kept its traditional strength. Its persistence as a pure fighting discipline was rewarded when the Thai ringsport became a division of the World Boxing Council.

After an audience granted by His Majesty the King to WBC president Dr Jose Sulaiman and Pol Gen Kovid Bhakdibhumi, it was decided that the WBC Muay Thai would be established to not only project Muay Thai onto the main stage as a ring sport but to give Muay Thai a professional status with qualified officials, 19 weight divisions and the highest of safety standards.

Most importantly the rules and regulations of WBC Muay Thai were given approval in the USA by the Nevada Boxing Commission and the California Boxing Commission so that major Muay Thai events could be promoted in the premier venues of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The WBC has defined the rules and regulations for Muay Thai in the modern era using as guide rules of the Sports Authority of Thailand. The WBC also works with the regulatory sports commissions of all countries, including the newly formed Japan Professional Muay Thai Association, which differentiates Muay Thai from the plethora of Japanese martial arts, which vary in style, rules and safety standards.

Over the past four years the best of Muay Thai professionals have been been ranked by the WBC in weight divisions ranging form strawweight to super-heavyweight. During this period several of the WBC world champions to emerge have become genuine superstars.

Three champions have stood out. Light-middleweight Yodsaenklai Fairtex is the KO king of Muay Thai defending his title for over three years with lightning punches and elbow strikes. The only fighter to go the distance with Yodsaenklai in a championship fight is Australian John Wayne Parr who was beaten narrowly in Australia by Yodsaenklai and again lost to the WBC champion in a rematch in the final of The Contender Asia series in Singapore.

The most popular Muay Thai fighter in the world is WBC middleweight champion Lamsongkram Chuwatana. Unlike Yodsaenklai, who is a heavy hitter, Lamsongkram is an expert fighter in close who wraps up his opponent before executing his elbow strike.

Super-featherweight champion Keaw Fairtex is regarded as the ''sugar'' of the reigning WBC champions. Idolised in Japan and a favourite in the US ''Sugar Kaew'' has won the admiration of WBC president Dr Jose Sulaiman.

New welterweight champion Big Ben won the WBC title from Noppadech2 Chuwatana at Ratchadamnoen Stadium on Monday night and looks set for the international stage too.

Last Thursday young sensation Jomthong Chuwatana outclassed popular WBC featherweight champion Anuwat Kaewsumrith in a hard fought duel at a packed Ratchadamnoen Stadium.

And on the same card Kaiyasit Chuwatana proved far too strong for Daosaming Ingram-Gym, winning every round to take the vacant bantamweight title.

WBC WORLD CHAMPIONS

Bantamweight, Kayasit Chuwatana (Thai); Featherweight, Jomthong Chuwatana (Thai); super-featherweight, Kaew Fairtex (Thai); light-welterweight, Dantai Singhmanutsak (Thai); welterweight, Big Ben (Thai); light-middleweight Yodsaenklai Fairtex (Thai); middleweight, Lamsongkram Chuwatana (Thai); light-heavyweight, Basam Charour (Denmark); super-cruiserweight, Steve McKinnon (Australia); heavyweight, Shane "Rocky" Rasario (USA)

Pix:

Yodsaenklai Fairtex goes on the attack during a title defence in Jamaica earlier this year.

WBC Muay Thai secretary general Patrick Cusick, Pol. General Kovid Bhakdibhumi (WBC vice-president and WBC Muay Thai chairman) and WBC president Dr Jose Sulaiman.

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