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Muay Thai kicks into the big time : On October 13, 2005
[BOXING] Muay Thai is now set to enter the main arena as one of the world's premier ring sports within the organisation of the World Boxing Council (WBC). The WBC's recent annual convention in Cadiz, Spain, endorsed a full calendar of championship events for 2006 which will see WBC Muaythai title fights staged in the US, Europe and Asia. WBC President Dr Jose Sulaiman informed delegates that muay Thai was the adopted ring sport for an "excited new generation of martial arts fans".
"The sweet science of boxing and the respected discipline of muay Thai are the world champions of all ring sports," he said.
The WBC received market research which revealed that muay Thai was the genesis of all kick-boxing - including the popular K1 tournaments.
WBC Muaythai Chairman Police General Kovid Bhakdibhumi said that for the first time muay Thai was being marketed and developed within the structures of an established world sanctioning body.
"We have the green light to get muay Thai into the big show as a popular ring sport," he said. "I am certain that the promoters and the television broadcasters will now embrace our sport with confidence.
"Our research has shown that there are hundreds of thousands of muay Thai fans around the world who want to see the best of the best compete for the WBC Muaythai world titles. We want to give to the world the very best in muay Thai."
While promoters are lining up to stage sanctioned muay Thai championships, General Kovid cautioned that "there needs to be careful planning" to ensure that all the muay Thai events keep to the rules and regulations.
"There is a tendency for promoters to jump onto the bandwagon and grab onto the next big sensation. Muay Thai has been flourishing for more than a thousand years and it's important that it doesn't lose its fighting heritage," he said.
Unlike the new fashionable ring sports which permit wrestling holds and grappling on the canvas, WBC Muaythai would adhere to all the ring rules as outlined by the Sports Authority of Thailand.
"The rules are clear. We have no intention of turning muay Thai into a ring circus," said General Kovid.
He added that one of the main challenges for the WBC Muaythai organisation was to recognise through its ranking system all the new talent that had emerged from muay Thai clubs in Eastern Europe, Mexico, Central and South America. "There's a new wave of muay Thai fighters that need to be included into our ratings and our task is to get them into contention for world title contests," he said.
"The WBC Muaythai organisation is in an excellent position to enable muay Thai to 'sparkle' on the world stage. Our governance under our constitution and the rules and regulations of the Sports Authority of Thailand gives our representatives and promoters every opportunity to present first class championship events worldwide."
Among the world title contests under consideration are mixed championship cards of boxing and muay Thai in the major casino arenas in Last Vegas, a "battle of the belts" extravaganza event in Bangkok next January and a middleweight title contest in London.
Flamboyant promoter Don King - who attended the WBC convention in Spain - said he was keen to get Don King Productions involved with muay Thai. "I've been hearing a lot about muay Thai," said King. "I've heard that it's bigger than Mars and the Titanic put together.
"Well, I want to tell the entire world that Don King respects the discipline of muay Thai. It's gonna set the fighting world on fire."
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