Muaythai moved one step closer to being featured in the Summer Olympic Games program in the future when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the sport as a provisional Olympic member on Tuesday.
The International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) began lobbying the IOC back in 2012 to begin the difficult process, and Tuesday’s decision by the Executive Board of the IOC marks an important moment in the history of the combat sport and a crucial step towards mainstream recognition. The IFMA is the amateur arm of the World Muaythai Council which is one of the biggest muaythai sanctioning bodies in the world.
The ‘provisional’ status awarded by the IOC entitles the sport to $25,000 annual funding and an opportunity to take part in various development initiatives and anti-doping programs. The duration of the provisional status will last for three years and following that, the sport will be able to apply for participation in the full Summer Olympics program. The decision does not automatically mean the sport will participate in the next Olympics, Tokyo in 2020.
A lifelong dream of so many has finally been achieved. This is the achievement of all; the hard working National Federations which volunteer their time, our Executive Board whom have served with passion for so many years, our technical officials whom ensure that Fair Play is observed on all levels – IFMA General Secretary Stefan Fox.
Amateur muaythai differs from professional muaythai as all participants are required to wear full padding (head, elbow, knee and shin) and are three rounds long (as opposed to five in many professional muaythai bouts). There is no distinction or restrictions made between those who are paid to fight and those who are not unlike in boxing. This ensures some of the top professional muaythai fighters from around the world take part in the annual world championships. Former Gold medallists include Glory Kickboxing star Simon Marcus and current UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Muaythai Australia (MTA) is the national body affiliated with the IFMA in Australia and often sends teams of participants to compete in various amateur world competitions at a junior and senior level.