“Muaythai” The Pride of Thailand

National Identity Foundation supports IFMA to enhance Muaythai towards the highest recognition.

Muaythai, known to some as “Muay” or “Thai boxing” dates back to the days of ancient Siam. The martial art in the battlefields was used to uphold the freedom and independence of modern Thailand.

Muaythai is inherently woven into the fabric of the heritages and cultures of the Kingdom of Thailand with the traditions of the ancient art & sport deeply rooted. Muaythai is based on 5 important pillars, tradition, honour, respect, fair play, and excellence all of which are important characteristics in the foundation of humankind, and certainly also important facets of Olympism promoting sport, culture, and education with a view to building a better world.

A centuries-old combat sport, 2021 was an important milestone in the history of Muaythai. As the International Olympic Committee has fully recognised Muaythai and the International Federation of Muaythai Associations, IFMA is the sole governing body for Muaythai within the Olympic pyramid. IFMA has 148 member federations which are recognised in each country by their highest sport authorities spanning all 5 continents. All of them work under the same rules and regulations, constitutionally enhancing and promoting the values of Muaythai as a cultural art form.

IFMA has fulfilled the strict requirements of being Olympic recognised in good governance, anti-doping, youth development, universality, health and safety but at the same time ensured proper safeguarding for the youth and ensuring that the traditional aspects of Muaythai continue to be an integral part such as Wai Kru (Thai ritual in which students pay respects to teachers), Mae Mai Muaythai (fundamental techniques), Mongkol (traditional headgear) and Pee Muay (Muaythai orchestra). 

IFMA recognises Thailand as the motherland, in much the same way that Korea is proud of their taekwondo, China of the wushu and Japan of karate and judo, and so on. 

Thailand is equally proud that Muaythai is now a world-wide recognised combat sport and martial art and like taekwondo, wushu or karate has spread from the motherland to every part of the globe. With this, important values have been passed on to its practitioners around the world.

Muaythai as a combat sport and cultural art form is included in many IOC recognised multi-sport games such as the World Games, the World Combat Games, the European Olympic Games, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, the Arafura Games, and the list goes on. At many of these events besides the combat discipline, the traditional forms of Wai Kru and Mae Mai Muaythai are also included as full medal disciplines complete with podium awarding ceremonies with national anthems played.

IFMA governs all aspects for Muaythai with different rules and regulations adapted to ensure the safety of the athletes. Youth must compete in full safety equipment with strict regulations on strikes permitted and bout times to ensure safety.  At the IOC recognised Games, it is the best of the best, the elite athletes from around the world who compete in the round-robin competitions, and must fight a minimum of 3 times in 4 days to reach the final round, which is why the rules for this particular type of competition makes it necessary for protective equipment. On the other hand, in the single event format (referred to by some as “professional”) these same elite athletes compete in a single bout event for belts rather than medals.

IFMA is also the sole WADA signatory for the sport of Muaythai, ensuring fair play with a zero tolerance against rule violations of any kind. Not only recently over 1500 athletes and officials from 87 countries travelled to Bangkok to celebrate the recognition by the IOC but also showcased their respect to the motherland as the opening ceremony was held in honour of the late King His Majesty King Rama 9.

Similar to football, different regions may call it by different names. In Australia and America, football is called soccer while in Europe and Asia it is referred to as football but everyone works under one single governing body, regardless, if you play in the junior division on a small field and smaller ball or you play in the championships league. The same goes for Muaythai. Some call it muay, others refer to it as Muaythai, but regardless if you are junior or senior, if you are at a club competition or at the university world championships, if you fight in Las Vegas or at the World Games, IFMA is the world governing body.

This is why Thailand has been especially proud and the National Identity Foundation extends its full support to IFMA, acknowledging their work to enhance and promote Muaythai as a cultural heritage, taking it to every part of the globe and towards the five rings.

The National Identity Foundation, which is chaired by His Excellency General Surayud Chulanont, Thailand’s 24th Prime Minister, has given full support and unanimously agreed to sign the MoU with IFMA on cooperation with a unified vision for the sport. The signing ceremony took place with a special signing with IFMA President Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan who is now the Honorary President and the IFMA Secretary General Mr. Stephan Fox. Representing the foundation, the Secretary General Mr. Sompan Charuliminda and the foundation’s trustee Mom Luang Anuporn Kashemsant thanked the IFMA family on behalf of His Excellency General Surayud Chulanont for the full recognition of Muaythai by the IOC and also for the inclusion of the cultural elements in the multi-sports games.

IFMA thanks the National Identity Foundation and is looking forward to continuing to take Muaythai to the highest recognition, regardless of fitness, self-defense, competition, culture, or simply as a way of life.


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