Muay Thai – Kickboxing – Children’s Classes – GRIT

Muaythai Fragmentation, more titles and more sanctioning bodies is counterproductive. 

Muaythai Fragmentation, more titles and more sanctioning bodies is counterproductive. 

Muaythai is a great sport.

There is an incredible community of people in Muaythai all over Australia. We all love Muaythai and share a great range of opinions, backgrounds, and beliefs.

If there are two people in the room that agree on everything – one person is not needed.

Most clubs and athletes get on – but we all have a few people we detest – but they get on with other people we like. We all share a common bond and a sport that is a lifestyle we love.

One of the biggest challenges facing Muaythai is the fragmentation of the industry. An industry too small, too specialised and too special to be divided.

A solution to everyone’s issues, grips and wingers is better unification. Work together, agree to disagree and think about the sport from how it is viewed from the outside. Meet in the ring and punch it out. So, what you’re not friends – that is impossible in every sport. At least we can fight about it. Just do it in the ring, not online, not in the back.

Imagine your hand with all fingers the same and no thumb. You couldn’t make a fist and would look weird. You must have different fingers; you must have a thumb that opposes the fingers. That’s how you make a fist. Conflict is good, that is true unification. Not universal agreement.

I don’t care if you disagree with me, I am happy with robust discussion. I am happy to work on solutions. Just do it from the inside of the sport, you achieve nothing from outside the tent. It is ok to support varied bodies but most of what you think promoters care about, the crowd and media do not.

Muay Thai is greater than the sum of the parts.  Support all variations, sanctioning bodies and everyone building the sport in a positive, ethical way.  Muaythai as a credible international sport. Everyone needs pathways beyond your local show. It would be great to have more unification for the growth of the sport, but this must start locally. I worked hard on a top-down  approach for many years  via IFMA and the MTA but have since had the veil of idealism smashed by the politics and agendas at the top that I believe in more of capital market, bottom up, union and athletes development system. Start locally with your club, your promoters and build with like-minded people.

Warning: Please do not have your head in the sand though. Unification is not ownership, it is not marketing, and it will not last if based on, or linked to poor ethics. Associations with criminal elements will be counterproductive regardless of money and short-term fame. Have a martial code and honour, always remembering that the sport must be good for you on many levels, health, fitness, and ethics. Something you want your kids to be a part of. Something you are proud to have on the front page of the paper.

Integrity and honesty are critical. Work with people that support you and support others, that are fair, consistent, and driven by self-grandiose ego requirements.

We need one set of rules, one set of recognized scoring that officials are trained for under one system. One national sport, unified from looking in, working together for the one agenda from looking out. Make compromises and decide on what sport we want. Of course, we can have 2 versions, entertainment or sporting, with two levels or even three, novice, amateur and pro, but agree on the basic breakdown. What extent is the tradition and culture required to grow the sport (this is another article) ? What is better for the sport? Everyone loves the traditional shows, but we love watching One FC as well. How wide does the funnel need to be to draw in participants, crowds, sponsors, and club members. The problem with opinions is everyone has them but the loudest voice is often not the most reasonable or educated. Agenda, bias and image can all taint someone’s input, including mine.

Titles more titles? There are often too many titles for the sport to look unified from the outside world looking in. Titles are meant to be the pinnacle of the sport. You win a title when you are the state or national or world champion. Or stadium champion or champion of the largest Muay Thai promotion like One. Every sanctioning body has titles and most agree with me, but no one says no to a title fight. Titles are marketing more than true champions. There are many reasons people say yes to titles and why say no. Promoters love them, even though they complain about how much extra the belt is, they still do it, especially if it is a fighter they promote or who sells lots of tables. Titles are usually fought by well deserving, quality people however there is usually someone else not available, missing out, charging too much, injured or just not liked by the promoter. My advice to promoters is the answer isn’t more titles, it is more credible and less titles, so they mean more. They should come with standards, not availability and not based on budget and marketing more than credibility. Titles are just trophies now and that wont change without less sanctioning bodies, standards for who fights for titles enforced on promoters with education of the support base of what a title means.

Sanctioning bodies, more sanctioning bodies. There are too many sanctioning bodies. That put on too many titles. The outside views show no resemblance to a credible sport. You can get a world title on a sanctioning body that exists in one state only. You can get world titles between two Aussies. You can get the same title with different rule variations, amateur titles, pro titles, intercontinental war against drug, UNESCO world titles. Promoters can change bodies and select who works best for them, who will give them a title, charge them less, allow them to change the rules the most or who works to better market their show. This is all business based on what suits me best mentality and does not promoter the credibility of Muay Thai.

We love watching the sport but will never be the NRL because we cannot organise ourselves to be bigger than our own local fishbowl. Once you start local, the next step is for local to unit with other areas, then states, the then the country, then the world. Yes, we have streaming and national level shows, but we don’t have TV and we could have.

Anthony Manning


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