Muay Thai Fighters Struggle to Get Sponsors

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Let’s face it, there is no money in muaythai. Thus we seek sponsorship.

By definition, athlete sponsorship is when a business provides funds, resources or services to an athlete. In return, the company expects some form of association with the athlete that may be used to help the business commercially.

As an athlete, you struggle to gain financial sponsorship to cover your monthly expenses. Why is it so hard?

Let’s expand on that. The expenses each month include, but are not limited to; muaythai gym fees strength and conditioning coach and gym fees, nutritionist, recovery costs (physio etc.), food, vitamins and nutritional supplements, training gear and at times travel and accommodation costs for bouts. What’s more, is this is only the entrée of expenses we have when fighting at our level.

Before you wipe the sweat from your eyes, you realize this passion has become a rather large financial outlay. I continue because I love it

How much better would full time training be, without the financial stress? I’d likely have more energy to focus on my training. Therefore, spend less time worrying about which aspect of my training I would need to skim on this month.

Why is Muay Thai on “Struggle Street” regarding sponsorship? “It hasn’t really got the credibility that other sports have got, so it’s not mainstream,” said over five years ago Nathan “Carnage” Corbett, a former eleven-time world champion in Muay Thai.

Sponsors look to support sports that are under the media spotlight. So for example, you’re a rugby player and I’m a muaythai fighter, and we are hitting up the same company for a sponsorship. Who do you think will get it? The rugby player of course. Rugby has the greater media exposure.

“I’m sick of fighting for a t-shirt,” said Rob Powdrill in 2011

The latter is the case for most athletes in Muay Thai. Companies are willing to throw free items of clothing your way in return for advertising their brand. Unfortunately this won’t pay the bills. However, it can be a foot in the door. All companies have an advertising budget, yet choose not to use it in the form of sponsorship.

A company would only invest if you are willing to promote in a way that will get people interested enough to either inquire or buy their product. Many companies are hungry for social media ambassadors. You can steer your followers in their direction.

Sponsorship equals partnership. I recently read this book Sponsorship for Athletes by Vickie Saunders which I found quite helpful. “Sponsorship is abundant and available to all athletes,” she says.  The book also advises the following:

  • Do your research and understand the company’s vision. You need to believe in their product if you want to be the face of the brand.
  • Call or a face to face meeting is more beneficial.
  • An emailed sponsorship proposal will likely end up on a pile somewhere. Instead of the hands of the person who deals with sponsorship.
  • Build a mutually beneficial relationship with the sponsor. This will make opportunities available for further opportunities regarding sponsorship.
  • Ask the sponsor what they need in return, assuming is like flying blind.
  • Nurture the sponsorship or it will be a short lived relationship.
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Yolanda Schmidt
Yolanda Schmidt, from Sydney, NSW is the Australian national champion in Muay Thai. In addition, she is a two-time bronze medalist at IFMA world championships. She is also a teacher at Menai High School in Illawong, NSW. Schmidt is a regular contributor to FIGHTMAG, where she covers women's kickboxing and Muay Thai.

1 COMMENT

  1. My daughter Skylah Hamill just won gold at the Australian junior nationals made the Australian team and is off to Bangkok for the world’s in August.she trains 8 sessions with seniors each week and finishes the week off with an ice bath.she loves muay Thai is dedicated and passionate to the sport she is fighting coastal warfare 11 18th March 17 only junior fight and the opening fight to she agreed to fight a girl 1 year older and 3.5kilos heavier she has no fear.we are struggling big time to find sponsorship for her to go to the world’s. She’s wearing the green and gold and fighting for her country which means so much to Skylah but to the rest of Australia it means nothing and that is sad if you have any tips for getting sponsors please can you let us know

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