It was 2018 when Muaythai Colombia burst onto the international stage driven by a team of talented coaches led by a determined President and gentleman, David Gonzalez Escobar.
After the World Championships in Cancun, 2018, David was inspired, he wasted no time setting big strategic goals for muaythai in his country.
His goals were fourfold:
1: The development of Olympic muaythai – IFMA
2: The development of professional muaythai – WMC
3: The development of Sport Is Your Chance (gang)
4: To promote muaythai in Colombia by advertising and marketing – Sport positioning is key!
In three short years David and his amazing team have accomplished many of these goals and continue to push new boundaries and reach new heights every day. It is by looking to our successful Members and trying to emulate their successes, in our own way, that we too can help grow our sport and further develop social projects across the globe.
Focusing on education and competitive muaythai, Colombia Muaythai has organised and run many events allowing their athletes, coaches, judges and managers to keep up to date and in touch with the constantly changing landscape of muaythai. Developing referees and judges in Colombia was pivotal and David made certain there was access and opportunity to be trained both in theory and in practice.
In its short time on the international stage Muaythai Colombia have won 35 medals (youth and seniors combined) and have hosted the IFMA South American Muaythai Championship in Medellín – Colombia. This event was endorsed by IWGA, and awarded points for athletes gunning for the Birmingham 2022 USA World Games. Colombia was named the Team of the tournament.
National championships have been an important focus for Colombia Muaythai and they have run 4 national championships ensuring they were held in different regions each time.
Simultaneously, David and his team have been working hard to develop a new generation of elite fighters who can compete for international WMC belts. The GOLDEN KING Promotions was created and the promoter was charged with the development of WMC events. Their first event designed the MEDELLIN FIGHT LEAGUE, an event where athletes from more than 10 different Federations faced off against with the winners attaining the coveted prize of being able to compete for the GOLDEN KING, a world belt that has been endorsed by WMC. If you wish to see the calibre of the fighting ——————————>>
Education of their athletes was at the forefront of their minds and Colombia Muaythai designed and delivered an international training camps – open to all. Fifteen different IFMA Member Federations travelled to Colombia to share their experiences and knowledge with the athletes attending. The camps were supervised and guided by IFMA qualified trainers, all of high international repute. Further to this, during these three years Muaythai Colombia also ran over 30 face-to-face seminars throughout their nation.
Learning from the changing world where the reality of a serious worldwide pandemic has changed the demographic of our sport, Colombia Muaythai pushed through, launching valuable virtual seminars and muaythai courses. And when Colombia couldn’t allow fight shows, they staged webinars with international celebrities headlining their productions. Some of the famous names in Muaythai included: USA’s Janet Todd, Israel’s Nilli Block, and Costa Rica’s Marcela Soto. During this pandemic Muaythai Colombia have also worked on a producing a MOU with one of the largest TV producers in the country – to position muaythai as a Premium sport. Though this is still in the development stages its conception suggests a great future for muaythai in Colombia.
From working with local youth and offering muaythai classes a competitive arm also developed strongly with a number of youth embracing the Olympic dream. To help them on their journey Colombia Muaythai has ensured they have opportunities holding events where they have been able to compete and grow as athletes and as people. Talent that is emerging from these efforts include two girls who have won a place on the national team and are already competing at the international level.
Colombia Muaythai Federation’s President, David Gonzalez Escabar understood clearly from inception, “there is a transformative power in muaythai, and if we really want a strong sport in the future then we must invest in building a good base, we must invest in our children.” David explained, “the idea of holding our champions responsible for leading a satellite project in each of their neighbourhoods was soon born, with the premise that a true champion, one who wants to represent his country, must first share with his people and give back to the children of their neighbourhood.” This means that if you wish to be a muaythai champion in Colombia then you agree to the duty of passing it forward. “Each of our athletes has a social duty to lead a group of children if they want to be part of the national team.” clarified David.
“The children have been the focus but instead of glorious belts these children have been given opportunities that will open their minds and help them build a positive future with or without muaythai,” says David. Today, a solid project exists and national athletes from Colombia share their skills with around 250 vulnerable children throughout the country, taking classes every Sunday in their neighbourhood. Not surprisingly, Muaythai Colombia has attained several national and international acknowledgments for this management model/ social change model.
Their social project are divided into four main approaches: Programmes (Educational, Cultural, Competitive), Activities, Partners and Projects:
Their Social Programmes include a pivotal education programme which involves understanding education from a holistic perspective, ranging from understanding and working with behaviours in society, though to the development of numerous academic projects.
By creating, in partnership with the community, a Cultural Centre where children have access to study rooms, a library, a computer room, a theatre, and a muaythai gym. These children also have the opportunity to receive different types of classes and courses in English, first aid, technology, manners, music, and dance etc. Alongside these educational programmes the youth also have access to attending concerts, visiting museums, going to cinema and restaurants, exploring sporting events, going to amusement parks, being invited to parties on special dates of celebration, earning gifts, playing games and enjoying surprises, attending health days, learning about giving by making donations to markets. You can witness some of this fun yourself on the VDOs below…
David believes, “our children deserve the best! And connecting our children with the world is essential to teach them that they can go as far as they dream of going. This is how the strategy of seeking to bring them the greatest number of champions and role models was born so that they have concrete references and feel that, with discipline and sacrifice, they too can achieve success.” By building this model of expectations David ensures “the children have the opportunity to share with IFMA athletes from all continents. They have been able to meet and share with champions such as Cris Cyborg, Paulo Costa, TJ Dillashaw, Jorge Masvidal, Rampage Jackson etc., as well as movie superstars like Steve O , personalities like Rohan Marley (son of Bob Marley), singers, dancers and many talented people who kindly share with our children.” This is what allows the children of Colombia to grow and to Dream.
So far the project so does not have permanent financial resources, however Mauythai Colombia have managed to receive other types of aid through strategic alliances allowing them to advance in each of their objectives. Each region of the country must to forge their own alliances, with companies, government entities, social foundations and/or individuals who see the value in joining their projects.
Going forward the Colombian Muaythai Federation intend to start working with other federations that, through their embassies or consulates, can generate collaboration agreements for the development of social projects and cultural exchanges for the children through muaythai. In addition to this, the development and application of their successful education programme throughout the national territory will remain their main objective.
By: Sue Glassey
Chair of IFMA Gender Equality Commission