A look back at IFMA’s Achievements & Milestones
The Yunus Foundation & IFMA
The Yunus Foundation specialises in what’s known as Social Business and is headed by Professor Yunis, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. The Foundation tackles poverty and the climate crisis from two angles, the top down and bottom up. Their focus is to make connections with organisations and create symbiotic relationships that can draw from one anothers deep experience in harnessing business tools to tackle big challenges like poverty and the climate crisis. Global entities have the power to multiply the impact of social businesses and by working together we can create a better world.
IFMA and the Yunus Sports Hub continue their cooperation and to develop closely together to adopt social business principles to deliver lasting impact. Stephan Fox stated, “we believe we have something to learn from each other.”
This year, Professor Yunus has been a keynote speaker at IFMA-driven conferences to inspire the next generation on the golden rules of solving real and pressing human problems, operating in a self-sustainable way, and helping those who need it most.
Over the last few months, Yunus Sports Hub Director of Operations Yoko Youssouf, and IFMA Chair of Sports and Active Society Commission Valentina David, discussed the Sports Is Your Gang IFMA initiative and on empowering the athletes to create opportunities for themselves and for others.
IFMA Launches New World App in Vichy
One of the highlights of the Vichy Muaythai World Discovery Festival was the launch of the new world App together with the SAT, NSDF and Ministry of Sports to promote the Olympic Values, the values of muaythai from the Motherland to the world and also the IFMA One Standard Muaythai Curriculum which had already been launched in over 100 countries.
His Excellency Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, the Governor of the Sport Authority of Thailand, Dr. Gongsak Yodamani, the National Sports Development Fund Manager, Dr. Supranee Guptasa, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Chairman, the Vice Governor Khun Tanukiat Janchum, the IFMA Secretary General, Stephan Fox, the President of the French Muaythai Federation (FFKMDA) and IFMA Executive Board Member and also member of the Executive Board of the French National Olympic Committee, Nadir Allouache, were present to give two thumbs up and congratulated IFMA on the recognition by the International Olympic Committee.
Webinars & WADA
ITA Ambassador, Chair of the Athletes Commission and newly appointed IFMA Sport Director Janice Lyn lead a very successful three day seminar on Fair Play conducting Anti-doping and Healthy Athletes Workshops in Bangkok.
The workshop and seminar underlined the seriousness of doping, the far-reaching consequence that damages health and reputation and all prospects in and out of sports.
Each participant received an important certification of completion. This was the second workshop with the third scheduled to be held within the next 6 months. It was a huge success with many speakers from the Royal Thai Government, Sport Authority of Thailand, National Olympic Committee, International speakers from SportAccord, James Tucker from Real World Academies, ITA Ambassador Janice Lyn, IFMA Medical Commission Chair Dr. Erdogan Aydin, IFMA Legal Commission Chair Mervyn Tan, IFMA Director General Charissa Tynan, and the list goes on.
The final speaker was the United Through Sports President, Stephan Fox, outlining the importance of safe sport, clean athletes and integrity in sport to combat corruption and uphold integrity with respect to match fixing.
The President of PAT Somchart Charoenwacharawit, thanked all participants reminding them again that we must all work together in our safeguarding efforts and this is why he especially thanked IFMA as an IOC recognized organisation and Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan as the former Governor of the SAT for their continued valuable input.
International Center of Martial Arts (ICM) & IFMA’s joint meeting
A successful meeting between Mr. Chi Yong Han Chief of Research and Development, and Ms. Hyewon Lee Programme Specialist, and Valentina David Chair of Sports and Active Society Commission, Janice Lyn Chair of the Athletes Commission, and Stephan Fox AIMS President to discuss an even closer cooperation in upcoming projects in the world of muaythai and martial arts.
The International Centre for Martial Arts Youth Development, under the auspices of UNESCO, has been working closely with IFMA for many years. Before the pandemic, IFMA was one of the major contributors to the framework Youth Development Through Martial Arts. This evaluation framework in Martial Arts Good Practice Guide for Youth Development has been an important indicator for the muaythai family in consolidating in youth education.
Queen’s & King’s Cups
History was made as Ruach Gordon won the King’s Cup 2023 and the Queen’s Cup 2023 going to Gumlaipetch Petchyindee Academy. This year’s King’s and Queen’s Cup booked its place in history with 12 outstanding, action-packed contests, some nail-biting finishes, coming down to the two final contests to decide who was awarded the world’s most prestigious Cups.
King’s Cup – IFMA World Champion and most outstanding male athlete of the IFMA World Championships 2023, Ruach Gordon from Israel, took on the champion Jaotapee Sor Pannarangsee from Thailand. Ruach emerged victorious, earning his place in history for King’s Cup 2023.
Queen’s Cup – Kennedy Maze from USA squared off against Thai Champion Gumlaipetch Petchyindee Academy. Local hero, Gumlaipetch Petchyindee Academy who, in front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd, and televised live, showed she was determined to raise the trophy of all trophies taking the decision and the 2023 Queen’s Cup.
Muaythai Soft Power Festival
Literally, one of Bangkok’s most iconic locations, the ICON Siam, came alive for the Soft Power Muaythai World Festival in December. The first day was hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, and the second day was hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the Sport Authority of Thailand, the National Sport Development Fund, the Amateur Muaythai Association of Thailand, and the world governing body of muaythai, IFMA.
The entire event was youth-centric, covering all aspects of muaythai with wai kru and mai muay competitions, and of course, youth competitions, all under the IFMA safety rules.
The event started with a multitude of youth activities around the numerous booths, followed by a breathtaking performance and thereafter followed by the youth bouts, where youths from all Thai provinces came together to compete in the spirit of fair play, promoting safe muaythai under IFMA, recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee.
The afternoon started with a youth seminar on fair play and anti-doping where ITA Education Ambassador and formed muaythai world champion, Janice Lyn, spoke to the youth on fairplay, IFMA’s zero tolerance against doping, the strict cooperation with ITA and WADA, and the efforts on prevention through detection and deterrence and certainly education. In short it was an afternoon, packed with engaging activities and fun.
UTS CEO, Julia Govinden, spoke on the fundamental values of fair play, which are certainly very important to sport, but also in everyday life. One of IFMA’s Youth Ambassadors, Parth Talawar gave an emotional speech about fair play on all levels, fostering friendship and how friendships can blossom through noble rivalries.
The afternoon programme had 40 youth contests with a packed audience from around the world. The ICON Siam Cup, in cooperation with IFMA and AMTAT was awarded to the outstanding athlete of fair play Pimlapat Roykaew Sit Kungkaosarn Samutprakarn Gym.
The IFMA family is all about connections. We may be spread far and wide across the surface of this earth and together we have so much knowledge and wisdom around our beloved sport of muaythai. The secret to moving forward into the future and supporting our youth as they develop as future humans of IFMA is sharing.
The women of IFMA have launched a new initiative sharing the experience of fighting female greats, muaythai champions and the champions of muaythai with our global audience. A podcast dedicated to the stories of breaking boundaries, achieving greatness and breaking the glass ceiling – #kickingglass.
Broadcasted live across our Facebook platforms (IFMA and IFMA GEC) then posted to Instagram and the IFMA youtube channel a few days later. Finally, the audio is cut and uploaded to Spotify and Apple podcasts. The first season focused on champions from across the globe and included Tierra Brandt (USA), Iman Barlow (GBR), Yolanda Schmidt (AUS), Sarah Piccirillo (BEL), Keona Parr (NZL), Martyna Kiercyznska (POL), Angie Rivera Parr and Jazzy Parr (AUS), Monika Chochlikova (SVK), Zoe Putorak (AUS), Olivia Bahsous (CAN), Rebecca Hodl (AUT), Patricia Axling (SWE), Laura Burgos (MEX), Leni Hollander (GER) and Viki Bulinova (CZE).
Chair of the Gender Equality Commission, Sue Glassey stated, “I believe that the more we share our triumphs, challenges and golden tips for mental, emotional, and physical well-being in our sport – the more we will develop and the stronger our future will be. As one-muaythai-family the more we support and nurture each other the greater our sport will become.”
Events Across the Continents
The Carrara Sports Stadium in Australia hosted Infliction as it returned for its 10th-anniversary show in cooperation with Muaythai Australia, IFMA, and the WMC. The event also celebrated the strength and growth of the Australian Muaythai federation that was established in 1995, fully recognised by the Australia Sports Commission and for nearly 30 years has been part of the national and international development of muaythai towards IOC recognition.
The event showcased a female Super 4 tournament for the National WMC bantamweight title with 10,000 dollar prize money demonstrating that creating gender equality is strong in the Oceania Continent.
The WMC World Cruiserweight title was fought between Australia’s Jayden Eynaud of Strikeforce Muay Thai and Paul Banasiak of the USA. Promoter Nick Atkins stated that a lot of work has gone into this event to not only create a world-class show but to ensure that the conditions of muaythai will be honoured and protected.
IFMA president Doctor Sakchye Tapsuwan sent a personal congratulatory message to Australia and there are many VIPS expected both from the Olympic and government level.
Hong Kong hosted the East Asian Muaythai Championships, fully patronised by the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, funded by the Arts and Sports Development Fund of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, and supported by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, as the largest and highest level muaythai event in Hong Kong, this year’s edition breaks its 3-year hiatus since the pandemic with the inclusion of athletes from 9 countries within the East Asian region.
Hong Kong, one of Asia’s muaythai powerhouses and one of the founding members of IFMA and FAMA, held the 4-day event which included combat and the traditional elements and disciplines of Wai Kru and Mai Muay at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
The East Asian Muaythai Championships is the largest and highest-level muaythai event held in Hong Kong. Athletes travelled from nine participating countries and regions, including Bangladesh, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Macau, China, Mongolia, and Hong Kong, China.
Hong Kong Muaythai Forum 2023 was hosted by the Hong Kong Muaythai Association which is one of the oldest muaythai federation in Asia and prides itself in being one of the original IFMA members which has, per square metre, the most muaythai gyms in the world.
A 3-day One Standard Muaythai course was held by HKMTA in cooperation with IFMA, the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Thailand and the National Olympic Committee.
The Chairman of the Hong Kong Muaythai Association, Mr. Lam Yuk Sin, stated that this was an important workshop not only to continue to enhance muaythai as a cultural artform and competition sport but also to gain important further knowledge in the safeguarding of the athletes and fair play.
The event was opened by the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Thailand, His Excellency Mr. Chaturont Chaiyakam who thanked HKMTA and IFMA for continuing the promotion of one of the Kingdom’s five Softpowers which includes muaythai at the national and world level. Mr. Chaiyankam congratulated them for IOC recognition and outlined the close cooperation between the Royal Thai Government and the IOC recognized muaythai family.
India has been igniting passions and shaping champions at the One Standard Muaythai (OSM) Coaches Seminar which was a resounding success, drawing trainers from all corners of the country. Taking place over three intensive days, the seminar was a melting pot of knowledge, experience, and passion for the sport of Muaythai.
The event was headlined by world-renowned Thai Masters Ajarn Chao Wathayotha, Ajarn Artit Tobwongsri and Ajarn Thaveewat Sutthi, who shared their invaluable insights and the latest techniques, elevating the standard of coaching across the country. Participants interacted enthusiastically, embracing the inherent values of respect, honour, and tradition that Muaythai represents. The energy was palpable as coaches returned to their respective communities, equipped with new strategies and a renewed commitment to fostering the growth of Muaythai in India. The seminar marked a significant milestone in the sport’s development in the country, promising a brighter future for Indian Muaythai.
Thank you, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting one of this year’s top highlights; the 11 day multidiscipline combat games accentuated the importance of inclusivity and unity. With 16 different combat sports, many of them also having Para and Special disciplines, the best martial artists from all five continents converged on the various playing fields beautifully assimilated in beautiful Riyadh.
IFMA would like to say thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his Vision 2030 and implementing it in this edition of the 2023 World Combat Games.
To HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Alfaisal Alsaud the President of the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Sports Minister, the entire LOC under the leadership of Prince Fahad Bin Mansour bin Saad Bin Saud Al Saud, the Vice President of National Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the entire SportAccord team and everyone who made this event the most exciting, outstanding World Combat Games, IFMA says thank you. We came as strangers, we left as friends.
Promoting muaythai for “Every Body” has been IFMA’s campaign for 20 years and now it is paying off, as IFMA’s para and special disciplines made a historical debut in Riyadh. IFMA has been working closely with the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and Special Olympics International to integrate non-discrimination, equality and inclusion at every level and inform every step forward.
Combat was definitely not the IFMA’s sole focus, since its inauguration, IFMA has protected and promoted muaythai as a cultural art form and this is why Wai Kru and Mae Muay disciplines were and will continue to be full medal events.
So many former champions of the World Combat Games have inspired, have lighted a spark for today’s champions and these champions which are not born, but made, are travelling to the Kingdom. Notably, many world superstars began on this same platform.
The one and only Valentina Shevchenko, who won the World Combat Games in two editions to become one of the greatest UFC stars of all time. We all remember Artem Levin, a two-time WCG winner, and his legendary final against the Contender Champion, Yodsanklai. Simon Marcus, who has become one of the greatest muaythai superstars. The one and only Igor Liubchenko, 2x WCG winner and still one of IFMA’s greatest champions, winning gold for the second time at the World Games last year. Other athletes like Andre Kulebin, Fatima Pinto, Sawsing Sor Sopit… all legendary icons of muaythai in their own right.
The IFMA’s Director, Charissa Tynan, expressed her deep gratitude and pleasure as she thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the unforgettable experience and to all the participants that worked so hard to be part of this event.
Stephan Fox, Chairman of the World Combat Games, and Vice President of SportAccord recognised the tireless commitment made by so many organisations, federations and individuals that contributed to making the 2023 World Combat Games such an unprecedented success for all 16 martial arts and their communities.
Thailand demonstrated why they are still and will always be the motherland of our great art. Following old traditions, over 600 athletes competed at the final 4-day event held at the famous National Stadium, signifying the culmination of three months of fierce ongoing competition across the provinces. The previous three months saw over 6000 young athletes took part in this qualification series with the champions from each region travelling to Bangkok to compete in the final qualifiers of the Kita, Wai Kru, Mai Muay and Combat competitions to qualify for a place on the Thai team and the honour to compete at the 2023 Youth World Championships. A 46 strong team made their way to Turkey later the next month.
Dr. Sakchye stated, “Everyone should be proud as this team will carry the Thai flag, the national Olympic logo and will be an event which is recognized by the National Olympic Committee. Many years ago, many would never have thought this would be possible but here we are.”
The importance of muaythai in the United Arab Emirates speaks for itself as in the opening ceremony for their National Youth Championships, members of the Royal Family and prominent names in sport opened the event including: Sheikh Mohammed bin Theyab bin Saeed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Nahyan bin Theyab bin Saeed Al Nahyan, His Excellency Anas Nasser Al-Otaiba, President of the UAE and Asian Muay Thai Federations, Deputy President of the International Boxing Federation, Tariq Mohammed Al-Mehairi, the Executive Director of the UAE Muay Thai and Kickboxing Federation, Mohammed Al-Hosni, a member of the Mixed Martial Arts Committee at the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Ali Khouri, a member of the Board of Directors of the UAE Muay Thai and Kickboxing Federation, and certainly, His Excellency Abudullah Saeed Al Neyadi, the IFMA Vice President and President of FAMA, the Asian arm of IFMA. The UAE, which has already held a very successful IFMA World Senior Championships, is one of the bidding candidates for the upcoming 2025 Youth World Championships.
Earlier in the year, the UAE held an Open Championship where 185 athletes from 32 countries took part in one of the last test events for the World Combat Games. The event was in joint cooperation between the UAE Muaythai Federation, FAMA, IFMA, the UAE National Olympic Committee, General Authority of Sports and Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The event was once again a hit with many VIPs present.
The President of UAE Muaythai and also President of the IFMA Asian Federation, FAMA, His Excellency Abdullah Al Neyadi, stated that after the successful 2022 World Championship in Abu Dhabi, this was another world class event showcasing the unique talents of the athletes and the popularity of muaythai.
Executive Director of UAE Muaythai Federation, Tareq Al Muhairi, further stated that for years, the region has worked to place themselves nationally and internationally as one of the top sporting organisations. This event can especially be described as distinctive because full gender equality was nearly reached which is in line with the IFMA and the IOC on gender equality. The event was telecasted live on national and international TV and the spirit of sport, fair play, excellence and respect shone through, throughout the entire event.
The capital city of Astana, Kazakhstan was the host of the 2023 Asian Cultural Festival in which muaythai was centre stage.
The event was in full cooperation with the Royal Thai Government, embassy, Sports Ministry, Sport Authority, NSDF, the Sport and Cultural Ministry of Kazakhstan, National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan, the National Federation of muaythai and IFMA.
The Mayor of Astana welcomed all the delegates to the capital city. The National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan once again praised IFMA as an IOC recognised organisation. There was a full day of cultural displays and in the end, it came down to six bouts with Kazakhstan vs Thailand for the Ambassador Cup in which Kazakhstan, an IFMA founding member, once again showcased why they are one of the leading muaythai countries in the world winning four out of six bouts.
The event was telecasted live. President Fahad Amakoulov praised the continuous cooperation between the Kingdom and Kazakhstan. His pride is being one of the founding members of IFMA and Kazakhstan.
The Senior World Championships were held in Thailand with IFMA stating how proud their 30 year history is. We have built the solid foundations of inclusion, non-discrimination and equality and using muaythai for cultural and sporting exchange. The 2023 IFMA Muaythai World Championships is, without doubt, one of the largest single combat events in the world. The event hosted 102 countries with over 2000 participants from all five continents including countries such as Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Refugee teams, and the list goes on.
Unity in Diversity is key for IFMA as an IOC recognised organisation. The event showcased various disciplines in two different areas of the competition venue. The combat competition itself is located at the Convention Center at Central World at Centara while the Muaythai Festival was held outside on the Terrace of Central World.
The Director General, Charissa Tynan, stated that the event exceeded all expectations not only in participation but also that the large refugee team had the opportunity to shine. In her words, “Refugees have no choice, IFMA always makes the choice in the interest of the IFMA Family, our athletes must come first.”
Janice Lyn, the Chair of the Athletes’ Commission agreed explaining, “the philosophy of IFMA is to ensure that the athletes stay the heart and soul of the competition to ensure not only world class competition but also the Athlete’s Village, accommodation, and the catering must be of the highest standard.”
One of the highlights was the Muay Kita competition showing the cultural elements and today, the cultural competition of Wai Kru and Mai Muaythai is starting with over 60 countries entering teams and individuals and it will be at the cultural square and stage in which over 20,000 spectators are expected every day.
The Championship ended with an impressive Gala celebrating the hard work and dedication of many of its members throughout the last three decades. Beautiful plaques of appreciation were presented at an elegant dinner that all participants were invited to attend. The atmosphere was electric and the cheers rang out in response to the awards presented to the individuals who have helped build the future of IFMA and muaythai.
Europe, one of five continental federations recognised by the European Olympic Committee, had one of their strongest years yet. Muaythai made their debut in the European Olympic games which was a major success for IFMA and muaythai with over 30 European Olympic Committees sending national teams to this prestigious event. Poland was the proud host country to the European Games in Kraków-Małopolskie. It certainly was an unforgettable experience for both competitors and spectators alike, with unforgettable performances from some truly remarkable athletes.
European Nak Muays touched down in Kraków, Poland at the 3rd European Games where muaythai featured 23 countries and 80 athletes in IFMA’s debut at this esteemed event. Over 500 athletes from 48 countries proudly marched into the arena at the opening ceremony and for muaythai, history was made as the art of 8 limbs made its official debut at the European Olympic Games as a full medal sport.
The world’s sport community once again praised IFMA and muaythai for their overall development and effort towards full gender equality which has been again showcased at the European Games with equal number of female and male competitors.
The Director General of IFMA, Charissa Tynan, stated, “this is not an overnight success. It has been in development for 30 years and it was at the World Championships in Mexico in 2018 that IFMA reached full gender equality. Now at all major events, regardless of the World Games, European Games, World Combat Games, there will be as many female and male competitors in the competition. Sue Glassey, Chair of the Gender Equality Commission reiterated that, “the achievement of equality in numbers at all participation controlled multi-sport events is achievable for all combat sports. It reflects the policies and beliefs and values of our leaders. For our female athletes, this has been our norm for the last five years and it has created the opportunity for our top female athletes to demonstrate why they are world class fighters.”
This is very much the spirit of the European Games in which the slogan is “We Are Unity” and that very much reflects the IFMA philosophy of one family standing together.
The European Games Kraków-Malopolska 2023 was an electrifying week-long celebration of muaythai, the IOC recognised martial art and combat sport. The stadium was packed to the last seat with long queues outside the stadium, and the VIP section filled with representatives from the European Olympic Committee, other participating sports, H.E. Mrs. Urasa Mongkolnavin, the Ambassador of Thailand to Poland and many more.
The entire event was televised live around the world and muaythai was billed as one of the most popular sports at the Games, not only making their debut but showcasing that the EOC made the right decision.
Turkey has had a spectacular year as the host of the 2023 IFMA Youth World Championships with a record number of over 3000 participants from 108 countries. These World Championships were closely followed by the last European event, the 2023 European Championships with over 600 participants. Both events saw many representatives of the International Olympic Committee and numerous VIP’s attend.
During the European Championships, a five-day muaythai festival with Thai performance teams was held in Turkey to promote and protect the traditions of muaythai while the EMF held their elections for the European Muaythai Federation Executive Board.
Congratulations were shared all around with the excitement of local federation president, Hasan Yildz, being elected to the position of European President. We are delighted to announce our Vice Presidents for the term – Nadir Allouache from France, Ioannis Papadopulous from Greece, Detlef Turnau from Germany, and Dmitry Putilin from Russia.
Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan congratulated the European Federation for all their outstanding work. The incoming European President Hasan Yildz of the Turkish Muaythai Federation proudly stated that he is excited at this opportunity to work alongside 50 other European federations all of whom will work closely with their respective National Olympic Committees and IFMA to continue to promote Muaythai as a cultural art form and sport for all muaythai stakeholders. With an emphasis on building the youth and uniting Europe under the One World, One Muaythai principle.
The 2023 Mediterranean Muaythai Championships was hailed as a big success with an action-packed final day seeing the best of the best from all Mediterranean countries displaying outstanding muaythai. There were appearances from many VIPs from national Olympic committees and sports ministries, once again, showcasing why IFMA is the world governing body for muaythai recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
The Greek athletes, with their home as the birthplace of the Olympics and with the support of an enthusiastic crowd, topped the medal table followed by Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, Cyprus, France and the list goes on. The athletes praised the organisation of the event, the hospitality, the organisation and the next step is for muaythai to be fully included into the official Mediterranean Games. The Mediterranean Games is an important multi-sport event held every 4 years among athletes from countries bordering the Sea of Africa, Asian and Europe.
The IFMA Mediterranean Union is made up of member countries and 16 IFMA member countries held in beautiful Loutraki hosted by the Greek Muaythai Federation.
The President of the Mediterranean Union, Davide Carlot, an IFMA Executive Board Member of IFMA, stated that this event is the perfect mixture of cultural and sporting exchange which is the key foundation of IFMA.
Fifty years of diplomatic relationships between The Kingdom of Thailand and Hungary was celebrated with a special 3-day celebration in Budapesta showcasing muaythai and demonstrating the deep history of the martial art which originated in the Old Siam and evolved into a world IOC recognised combat sport. The celebration was made possible due to the long established connection between the two countries. The Hungarian Muaythai Federation is one of the 152 recognised national federations who worked in cooperation with the Royal Thai Government, the NSDF, the SAT, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government of Hungary and the HMF under the Presidency of Dudok Karoly, to make the celebrations possible.
The 3-day event saw the national performing team travelling to Hungary, performing at the Nagy Sportágválasztó (Sport Selector) with over 100 sports in which muaythai took centre stage with cultural and electrifying performances. The Lanna Muaythai Demonstration Team once again showcased all aspects of muaythai including its ancient traditions, muay boran, Krabi krabong, wai kru and the list goes on, receiving standing ovations from the crowd.
In France, a 3-day Muaythai Exhibition Workshop and fight night built up as the World Grand Prix will be held at Le Palace Du Lac in Vichy, France jointly organised by the Royal Thai government, the Sport Authority of Thailand, the NSDF, the Boxing Board and certainly the Ministry of Tourism and Sport and the world governing body recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IFMA, and FFKMDA, the sole national federation of France recognized by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and the French Ministry of Sport.
There were so many events within the event. Close to 400 athletes attended the 2-day workshop organised by muaythai superstar, Superbon, 5x IFMA World Champion, World Games Champion and Super-Trainer Gae.
The world class 3-day muaythai exhibition was opened by His Excellency Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sport, the Governor of the SAT, Dr. Gongsak Yodmani, the NSDF Fund Manager, Dr. Supranee Guptasa, the UTS President, Stephan Fox and the President of the French Muaythai Federation, Mr. Nadir Allouache.
Many VIPs attended from the NOC, Sports Ministry, Royal Thai Embassy and the list goes on. The exhibition will showcase 1000 years of traditions of muaythai from the ancient days to IOC recognition and the world wide muaythai teaching curriculum with the different disciplines of muaythai. Special meetings took place between the Royal Thai government, French government and the National Olympic Committee to discuss how muaythai could be showcased during the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
Celebrating our Youth
In proper IFMA tradition, the world Youth Gala took place on the final day of the Youth World Championships in Turkey. It was such a special time, one where the youth came together to celebrate their achievements and foster new friendships.
Over 1500 youth in total from 108 countries came together in the grand ballroom of the Daima Biz Hotel. The event was hosted by two outstanding youth ambassadors, Reema and Emily and what an unforgettable night it was.
The event opened with the winners of the Mai Muay and Wai Kru competitions with the 8-year-old young athlete from Trinidad and Tobago, Sphinx Prescod, who received a standing ovation. The Turkish Dance assembly but in a breathtaking 15-minute dance performance in which all the youth from the world joined in.
With so many outstanding performances the award winners were hard to chose but we must have a winner, and they were:
- Outstanding Athlete Female Under 14: Kseniia Gritsmilia (AIN)
- Outstanding Athlete Male Under 14: Mustafa Eren Dogu (TUR)
- Outstanding Athlete Female Over 14: Sama Ibrahim (EGY)
- Outstanding Athlete Male Over 14: Neil Zelensky (USA)
- Rising Star Female Under 14: Lada Zhokhova (AIN)
- Rising Star Male Under 14: Radomir Dyhun (UKR)
- Rising Star Female Over 14: Gulkhour Zakhirova (UZB)
- Rising Star Male Over 14: Jaser Aljawalha (UAE)
- Best Team Over All: Turkey
- Best Team Male: Kazakhstan
- Best Team Female: Thailand
- Best Fair Play Team: Belgium
- Best Sportsmanship Male: Donny Picton Smith (GBR)
- Best Sportsmanship Female: Skye Branson (AUS)
The event ended in one big dance party where the youth all came together in a celebration of friendship.
In to Africa
The Arab Youth Championships in Tripoli, Libya can only be described as an amazing success by the Arab Muaythai Federation under the Presidency of His Excellency Abdullah Al Neyadi and the Libyan Muaythai Federation under President Mohamed Al-Zrouq.
The event brought so many VIPs from around the country, including the opening by the Prime Minister of Libya, His Excellency Eng. Abdul Hamid Al-Dabiba and the President of the National Olympic Committee, Dr. Jamal Al-Zorouk, and throughout the entire week, the championships saw many VIPs from the sports ministry, cultural ministry, youth ministry and from the embassies of all participating countries coming to support the young athletes from the Arab countries.
In the end it was Iraq who showed why they are one of the driving forces in muaythai dominating the overall medal table ahead of Morocco and Egypt. The event was 4 days of non-stop action from Arab’s pride with so many outstanding performances from both female and male competitors.
President Abdullah Al Neyadi said, “We can be proud of the Arab Muaythai Youth and the future is more than safe. This event was a major test for the youth for the upcoming Youth World Championships in Antalya, Turkey, in which over 100 countries will participate and in which the youth from all 5 continents will come together in friendly sporting and cultural exchange.”
Congratulations to the Libyan Muaythai Federation. The atmosphere and hospitality of the Libyan people will leave everlasting memories for the IFMA Arab Youth.
Mauritius WMC Muaythai Gala Event and WMC Mauritius Muaythai Championship took place at the Gymnase Phoenix Sports Complex. Muaythai athletes from across the country travelled to take part in the event which is under the auspices of IFMA and the WMC.
The event featured a stacked card of homegrown heroes with 6 WMC national titles on the line in this first-of-its-kind event in Mauritius which has big plans to host regular events with athletes from around the region.
Sham Seeratam the President of the Mauritius Muaythai Federation and Director of Operations for the African Muaythai Union stated that “It is a major event for Mauritius Muaythai and combat sports in general as this paves the way for our athletes to build a career from the sport. The athletes will now be known on the world stage and thus opening doors for invitations to major titles worldwide. And with the MOU signed between WMC and Rajadamnern Stadium, our next target is to get the national WMC champions to fight on the big stage which I believe is the best way to promote muaythai in the region”.
Egypt is one of the fastest growing muaythai federations in Africa and has been especially successful in their youth development as well as promoting gender equality. They are fast demonstrating that their female athletes have what it takes to take gold.
The Egyptian Muaythai Federation is fully recognized by their Sporting Authority and National Olympic Committee. President Mohammad Ibrahim opened their Championships and congratulated the youth on their achievements as the selections were done from all regions of Egypt. He further stated that it is everyone’s dream to participate in the World Championships for the youth as it is IFMA’s flagship event and then make their way up to the many opportunities IFMA provides from The World Combat Games, World Games, university Games and very soon, the African Games.
Cairo will be host of the 2024 African Championships in the month of February.
In the Americas
Freedom Fighters Promotions promoted an exciting event filled with a huge undercard showcasing the top talent in Florida and a major main card with a title eliminator fight for the #1 ranking in the super welterweight division, and 3 huge WMC world title fights.
Tierra Brandt added the WMC USA National title at the Prime Fight Promotions event. Tierra Brandt faced off against Charlsey Maner, another IFMA Gold medalist as they both competed for the last spot in the female 60kg combat division at the World Combat Games. The event was held in the Jean Sheperd Community Centre in Hammond, Indiana, and featured a stacked card of America’s finest under the sanctioning of USA Muaythai, recognised by the USA National Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee.
The Thai Embassy hosts #SawasdeeDC celebrating the 190 Years of Thai-US Relations! This event, held at the National Mall, Washington DC showcased Muaythai, Muay Boran, and Krabi-Krabong spearheading the martial arts portion of the festival.
A short recap – Muaythai is the winner at the end of the year
2023 has been another very important year for the world of muaythai as an International Olympic Committee recognised sport and art.
The Director General of IFMA, Ms. Charissa Tynan, who heads the IFMA International Office in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne made a detailed report to the IOC and all other IFMA partners.
IFMA invests close to 15 million baht every year on education, in and out of competition testing and for education and testing services of the International Testing Agency.
Ms. Tynan highlighted that IFMA, once again, has been declared fully WADA compliant which is very important in IFMA’s zero tolerance against cheating on all levels.
IFMA also made their debut in the European Olympic Games and was recognized as one of the most outstanding sports at the games and also became fully recognized by The Association of African Sports Confederations (UCSA).
Muaythai was also one of the most popular sports and arts in the 2023 World Combat Games in all medal events including Mai Muay, Wai Kru, Para, Special and Muay Combat.
The 2023 Youth World Championships in Antalya had over 3000 youth from over 100 countries participating.
The IFMA Senior World Championships was held in Thailand celebrating IFMA’s 30 Years Anniversary with over 100 countries in attendance for this important milestone.
Five continental events had been held in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Pan America and over 1000 professional events were held and over 30 million dollars in prize money was distributed.
The full event calendar for 2024 will be published anticipating another big year for muaythai and IFMA, the sole recognized federation by the International Olympic Committee, Olympic Committee of Asia, the European Olympic Committee, the Association of African Sports Confederations, World Games, FISU, SportAccord and the list goes on.