Written by Charlie Penwick

March 13th, 2022, concluded the USMF’s World Games Qualifiers, finishing an exciting weekend full of Muay Thai competition and education in Denver, Colorado. Of course, the talented athletes fighting for their spot to represent the USA at the upcoming World Games were at the forefront of the event. However, there were also two clinics available for attendees; one on the intricacies of Muaythai officiating and the other on media. The USMF’s official sponsors and vendors were also the venues, who make opportunities like the qualifiers possible for the athletes and help grow the sport.

Photo by Jacob Sanders

Austrian Gunter Plank, 2021 Technical Official of the Year, led the Official’s Clinic. Alongside other USMF officials like Stephen Strotmeyer, Plank and his team offered valuable insight into refereeing and judging the sport. The clinic provided coursework directed by Plank’s knowledgeable team and a unique opportunity to “shadow judge” some of the matches. Attendees earned a certificate for being Qualified Officials.

Photo by Pari Aryafar

The media clinic was run by USMF’s own Jeff Dojillo, an accomplished photographer and head of the Federation’s media team. Dojillo has extensive experience documenting and promoting Muaythai around the world. He provided the clinic attendees the opportunity to document the event while receiving feedback and coaching on their work. With Muaythai and combat sports growing rapidly, this clinic was invaluable for those interested in the media side of the sport.

Photo by Taylor Sims

However, the focus of the Qualifiers was the talented young American athletes, both amateur and professional, competing for a spot at the historic World Games in Birmingham. The spots are prestigious as Muaythai’s appearance at the World Games represents a huge step forward for the international recognition of the sport. Over three days, numerous brackets of athletes battled for a chance to earn their place.

Photo by Hristo Petkov

Taking gold in the female featherweight division, two-time IFMA Gold Medalist Tierra Brandt overcame a bracket stacked with professionals. She was the youngest in her division and the only amateur at featherweight. Over at light flyweight, Janet Garcia Borbon’s aggressive, pressure-based style won her a spot at the World Games to fight the best of the best. The female gold medalists in the other divisions are; at flyweight- Angela Bahr, bantamweight- Ashley Thiner, lightweight (60kg)- Charlsey Maner, lightweight (63.5kg)- Erin Clayton.   

Photo by Jeff Dojillo

In the men’s divisions, at light heavyweight Aaron Ortiz came fresh off of fighting in Dubai to three brutal bouts at the Qualifiers, overcoming injury to take gold against game opponent Zach Bunnell. At 71kg Luke “The Chef” Lessei earned his spot at the World Games. In the light welterweight division Joseph “Peculiar” Mueller fought through his division, overcoming veteran Sean Climaco in the finals to represent the USA. USA’s other male gold medalists are; featherweight- Austin Amell, welterweight- Travis Petralba, heavyweight- Matt “The Butcher” Baker.  

Photo by Wendy Maya

USMF would also like to thank all of its sponsors and official vendors; InFightStyleDr. Kronic’sCombat CornerAuthentic Muay Thai SupplyTemple Muay ThaiTraveling Prize FighterMuay Thai RepublicThe MMA DocThe Warriors CupCool Heart PerformanceAudacious Muay ThaiDominion Training Camp and North Florida Muay Thai for their support of the event and the athletes.

With the World Games coming up in Birmingham, the athletes will be preparing to partake in a historic event for Muay Thai. Make sure to show your support for the USMF athletes!

Story taken from: https://usamuaythai.sport/world-games-qualifier-recap/?fbclid=IwAR3DiBf8JLr7gYu-uk9E0boSzOu3UItiQWHOEbfWawuqWgFjGe34Klok8yw