Columbia sends a muaythai team to the World Championships for the first time this year, an achievement which has been more than five years in the making.
David Gonzales, president of the Columbian Muaythai Federation said muaythai is a real opportunity for young athletes still affected by the recent troubled history of his country.
This is also the first time an IFMA World Championships have been held in the Pan-American region, and all federations in the area think there will be a legacy of inspiration and motivation for their athletes.
David said: “We are proud to be the first Colombian team to ever represent our country in such event. We are working with all the commitment to represent our country the best way.
‘For the future of muaythai here, I see a bright one. Unfortunately our generation has not seen a day of peace in Colombia – and now that war is over, we truly see muaythai as an important tool to transform our society.
“A lot of our kids are in a post-conflict situation and through muaythai we want to change that scenario. We will change that scenario!”
David said there are now muaythai clubs in almost all Columbian cities, and they are using the IFMA format to develop working together in a network.
And importantly he said the Columbian government are now showing interest, especially in developing a Sport Is Your Gang project (an IFMA social responsibility scheme).
Working with coaches around the country, David set up a system of seminars and training days to make sure everyone was working from the IFMA rules for amateur muaythai.
He said: “Five years ago we started a process with our champion Eddie Vendetta, doing seminars all over the country and muaythai camps in Medellin, in order to spread the muaythai seed in Colombia. Now we are proud to announce that we have practitioners all over the country.”
The young athletes competed at the Pan-Americans held in Mexico at the end of last year, also for the first time.
Rising star Sabina Mazo said after the tournament: ” I feel amazing, I learned so much, and I am so happy to keep learning from this sport and martial art. It could be for anyone, the important part is that I learned and it motivates me to train more and always push through.”
Follow the Columbian muaythai team on their training journey: