Muay Thai Massive
No less that seven WBC Muay Thai world champions recently defended their green belt titles against the world's best top-ranked challengers in the WBC Muay Thai Championships “Singha Battle for the Belts”.
Sanctioned by the WBC Muay Thai, which is commissioned under the jurisdiction of the World Boxing Council (WBC), the event was staged at at Bangkok's Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani on June 9th, and was the first time so many Muay Thai world title defences had been featured in a single championship event.
Kings of the Ring
Eight of the powerhouse title bouts involved Thai world champions: Sakeddao Petchapayatai, Jomthong Chuwattana and Big Ben Ch. Praram 6. In the Super Lightweight fight, Sakeddao was challenged by French superstar challenger Sofiane Derdega of France, but held on to his title with a clear win when the referee stopped the fight. In the Lightweight contest, Jomthong came up against challenger Yetkin Ozkul of Turkey, also winning comfortably on points. A shock came in the Welterweight fight, however, when Big Ben took on famous French fighter Fabio Pinca, a former WBC world champion, and lost in a split decision.
In the fight for for the unclaimed Light Heavyweight title, Joe Schilling beat Karept Karapetyan of the Netherlands, while reigning Super Cruiserweight champion Steve McKinnon of Australia retained his title in a matter pod seconds when when he knocked out Frank Munoz, also form the Netherlands with a devastating punch.
At the heavyweight end of the scale, Argentina’s WBC world title-holder Christian Bosch faced Japan’s Fabiano Cyclone. The coming together of these two top heavyweights proved to be a thrilling battle with the title-holder stopped in the second round.
Finally, in what was for many Muay Thai followers the top clash of the day, Kem Sitsongpeenong, who has knocked out several European champions in the past, dealt out the same treatment to reigning WBC Muay Thai super-welterweight title holder Alejedrano Asumo Oso of Spain. Kem landed a brutal elbow to the face in a viscous second round exchange, sending the Spaniard straight to the canvas and claiming the prized championship belt.
Global but Traditional
People from all over the world now follow or practice Muay Thai, either which has elevated the sport's status to new professional heights and seen fighters from well beyond Thailand's shores climb the ranks of the world's best fighters. The countries in Europe, Russia and the United States all have well established training schools, staffed by professional instructors, with major tournaments and fights broadcast internationally on TV and the web to satisfy an ever increasing and diverse group of global fans.
Despite its rise to world fame, the history and deep tradition that surrounds Muay Thai keeps the unique martial art firmly attached to its founding culture. In the spirit of defending their homeland, Thailand's people developed highly specialized combat skills based on close quarter attacks. Instruction in the deft but deadly skills of Muay Thai therefore became a rite of passage for young men as they passed into adulthood.
The ceremonial warm up ritual that takes place before each Muay Thai fight clearly demonstrates the sport's heritage. Known as the "Wai Khru Ram Muay", the ritual involves each fighter circling the ring three times before kneeling and bowing to the judges and their teachers. He also bows to Lord Buddha to ask for protection for himself and his opponent and for an honourable fight. The technique is a highly personal ritual, and can either be very complex or quite simple, but includes clues as to the fighter's trainer and origins.
Fight Club Vacation
Thailand offers visitors plenty of opportunities to watch and learn the art of Muay Thai. Organisations like the World Boxing Council and the World Muay Thai Council host regular championship fights, both in Bangkok, and on Thailand's resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, as well as in other cities around the world.
The WMC also has a dedicated training camp in Lamai, Koh Samui, staffed by world class trainers, each with their own special skills. The camp offers a range of courses for men and women and has an onsite cafe and gym. Over on Phuket, those interested in the sport have a choice of courses and Thai boxing gyms, including Tiger Muay Thai & MMA gym in Chalong, which offers courses from beginner to advanced level as well as crossover Yoga, Fitness, Detox and weight-loss programmes.
Patong Stadium on Phuket hosts nightly fights featuring Thai and foreign contenders, as does Phetch Buncha Stadium on Koh Samui. Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Rama 4 Rd is one of the most famous venues for Muay Thai in Bangkok and the Thai TV stations, Channel 3 and 7 also have their own stadiums in the capital, broadcasting top fights live, particularly at weekends.