Women's Muay Thai
Women's Muay Thai gender equality development policy / Pic: IFMA

Today women’s Muay Thai, as well as Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts, is certainly as popular as the bouts among male competitors. However there was the time when female practitioners of “The Art of Eight Limbs” were practically not allowed in the square circle.

The honorary President of International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA), General Chetta Thanajaro stated that he remembers back to 1995 when Rangsit stadium under the sanctioning of WMC and IFMA organised the first stadium fights, where women fought in the same arena and ring as the men, which at the time ignited on a lot of opposition. “Today, and thanks to the efforts of the world body, all leading promoters promote women’s Muay Thai equally to the men’s.”

The likes of WKN flyweight champion Ekaterina Vandaryeva of Belarus, known as Muay Thai Barbie, strawweight UFC star Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland, Girl Power 3 winner Irem Akin of Turkey, all come from The Art of Eight Limbs. Furthermore a number of models including Gracie Carvalho, Mia Kang and Lilian Dikmans, are the true devotees of the sport of Muay Thai.

In many countries women’s Muay Thai has become as popular as its male counterpart. On the fitness and self-defense segment, it is arguably even more popular amongst women than men. IFMA has followed a strict gender equality development policy, and in the Muay Thai family. Discrimination of any kind has no place.

Over the years, IFMA has developed and monitored participation in countries where women are socially limited. Close alliances with organisations such as UNWomen have been formed, as IFMA believes that collaboration and using resources and knowledge shared by others can only be beneficial towards achieving its development goals.

IFMA is proud that countries like Afghanistan and Iran for example now send full female teams, athletes as well as officials, to the IFMA international events. Also showcasing the trust and respect IFMA has in these respective countries.

In addition, the former World Champion and now IFMA Vice President Sue Glassey said “As a former fighter, I understand the difficulties female fighters faced two decades ago. Today, there is no more difference.”

“Two of the five Continental President of the IFMA are women and 35% of the executive committee are women. This is our time, and IFMA will continue as a family to stand together for non-discrimination and gender equality.”

Among six major events scheduled for 2018, this year IFMA Muay Thai World Championships takes place in Cancun, Mexico from Tuesday May 10 to Saturday May 19. Battling out for medal, the roster includes both, female and male athletes.

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Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a Muay Thai fighter from Perth, Australia. He is a former National champion of Belarus, and also a finalist of IFMA European Cup. He is an editor and journalist at FIGHTMAG. Iskenderov is also the WKN (World Kickboxing Network) international coordinator for Australia.

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