Monday, June 21, 2010

'Muay Thai boxing catching up fast'

Chinawut Sorosompan, popularly known as ‘Master Woody’, spoke exclusively to about the development of Muay Thai, a form of boxing.
Sudeer Mahavaadi: How is the sport growing in terms of popularity?

Chinawut Sorosompan: Well, there has been a considerable development all over, and we are all very happy about it. Especially in Asia, it is catching up fast, thanks to secretary-general, Mr Abid's efforts. It was there in the Asian Indoor Games (Phuket 2005, Macau 2007, Vietnam 2009).  We had the sport in South Asian Games in 2007, Philippines and Laos in 2009. We are leaving no stone unturned to take the sport to places where it is yet to gain popularity. I’m sure the coming world event in Mumbai in August will make a big difference. We know that efforts are on in India to include the sport in the National Games. The future certainly looks bright and it won't be long before it is included in the Asian Games and Olympics.

SM: Could you tell us about the origin of the sport and how different is it from real boxing?

CS: This is more interesting than real boxing. In boxing there are hard and fast rules, but here, you can hit anywhere. That is what makes this sport more attractive. The crowds just go crazy sometimes. The origin of Muay Thai is not exactly known. It is believed that it was used for self defence in the distant past, for settling arguments and for defending the country during wars. It includes fighting with all parts of the body like throwing, thumping, breaking, punching, knocking, thrusting and kicking.  This sport, I think, was practised by the soldiers during wars.
SM: When did you first take to this sport?

CS: It was way back in mid 80s. I first joined the officials from physical education to set up I.A.M.T.F. (International Amateur Muay Thai Federation) to promote amateur Muay Thai as a sport. Then for some years I enjoyed in the ring, before being appointed as international coordinator to help promote this sport. It feels great to be considered the pioneer of the sport in Asia today. And I’m also delighted with the development of the sport.

SM: Your biggest achievements so far?

CS: Being the co-ordinator of the first Amateur Muay Thai World Championships in 1986, in which 23 countries took part. During the second world event, I was awarded the Grand Master title by the minister of education.
In the 2002 world meet, we had 72 countries and more than 1200 athletes participating. I had also been invited to seminars and attended referee courses all over the world.

SM: We have heard that two associations are spoiling the reputation of the sport?

CS: Yes, it’s true. In 2006, the I.A.M.T.F was forced to merge with I.F.M.A to become W.M.F (World Muaythai Federation). Unfortunately, IFMA had their own views and ideas and political reasons also played a part. Our secretary-general, Abid is working with officials to ensure that we all come under one umbrella and work united.

SM: What is your main role now?

CS: I have now been appointed as technical director and I’m doing my best to promote the sport. I have now moved back to Thailand from England. I am also a part of Amateur Muay Thai Association of Thailand and efforts are on to keep this ring sport alive. In India our efforts are on to take the sport to villages. We have a clear vision of what should be done and we are just onto it, enjoying good support from all quarters.

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