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Tyson to learn Muay Thai? : 2005-03-10
Moves are under way to bring former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson here to learn Muay Thai.
Officials from the newly formed WBC Muaythai organisation are flying to the United States next Thursday for talks with Tyson about making the switch to Muay Thai, and the early signs are that the former champion is keen to take up the Thai martial art to prolong his flagging boxing career.
The chairman of WBC Muaythai, Pol General Kovid Bhakdibhumi, has been speaking to Tyson's representatives and World Boxing Council (WBC) officials in the US. Secretary-general Patrick Cusick is scheduled to leave Bangkok for Las Vegas next Thursday for talks with Tyson and his management as well as with high-ranking WBC officials, including president Jose Sulaiman.
It is understood that WBC officials, including Sulaiman, are pushing Tyson to make the switch to Muay Thai as they think his days of international-style boxing are numbered and that he is neither the draw card nor the fighting force he once was in the sport.
In fact, some WBC officials are concerned that if Tyson loses another bout, his career will be as good as finished, while making the switch to Muay Thai might prolong his career.
The WBC recently signed an agreement with the government and official the muay Thai body to promote the sport, stage title fights around the world and rank all muay Thai fighters.
"He likes Muay Thai and he's being encouraged to make the switch," said a senior official involved in talks with Tyson.
"It's his best option right now. He has to weigh up his options, of course, but many people in the WBC think it's his best bet."
WBC officials are calling it the "reformation of Mike Tyson" and are hoping the boxer not only takes up the offer to become a Muay Thai fighter, but also seizes the chance to change his erratic lifestyle.
"He'll need to spend some time here in Thailand not only learning the sport, but also how to show the proper respect for the traditions and culture that go with it," the official said.
Tyson made headlines in Australia last week when rumours spread that he was heading down under to train and get out of the spotlight in the US. The Australian government announced he would not be welcome because of his criminal record and time spent in jail for rape.
"He'll be very welcome here in Thailand, but he will have to learn to be humble, show respect and uphold the traditions of Muay Thai," said the offial.
"We'll teach him the wai kru [the show of respect by fighters to their trainers], take him to the wat to make merit, and teach him how to show the proper respect to his rivals in the ring."
Tyson is being trained in the US by Australian Jeff Fenech, a former world champion boxer who is well known in Thailand for knocking out local star Samark Payakaroon in a title fight.
Fenech's business manager is presently in Bangkok and has been talking to people at the gym as well as muay Thai officials.
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