The Championships continued across two rings with 81 bouts involving athletes from all around the world, and their supporters joining in the battles with songs and cheers.
One of the most moving moments came between supporters in the stands. When Lebanon and Iraq faced off at 75kgs, sections of the crowd came to life. Both expat communities were strongly represented, and came equipped with flags and songs.
As the final bell went, the Lebanese contingent of about 20 people rose from their seats, and walked to the adjoining section where the Iraqui crowd were singing. The two groups hugged and shook hands in acknowledgement of the respect shown between Youssef Aboud and Mustafa Al-Tekreeti (IRq) in the ring.
There were many other such moments as opponents who battled fiercely inside the square ring then hugged and walked in comradeship back to the changing area.
This area is like a who-is-who of muaythai this week. Much-decorated world champions brush shoulders with those at their first World Championships. Trainers swap pads and tips on how to stay injury-free and healthy during this intense week.
Thai athlete Suppachai Superbon Meunsang kindly posed for photographs with the children backstage. One little girl was so star-struck she held her phone upside-down to do a selfie and had to be gently corrected by the superstar boxer. You just know she will remember this day for a long time and will carry the memory into the ring when her time comes.
Among the stand-out bouts on May 6th was in the women’s 51kgs – a keenly contested World Games division – between Vietnam’s Bui Yen Ly and Thailand’s Kosorn Apsara. Bui won silver at this Championships last year and is Asian Beach Games champion so she desparately wanted Gold but after a tense battle with those in the crowd saying anyone could take this, the Thai woman took the score on points. A revenge for her defeat by Bui in the Asian Beach Games final last year.
The Elite Male division saw some royal battles, with the 81kgs division bout between old rivals Sweden and Ukraine bringing the house down. The large screen in the centre of the arena gives even the spectators at the top of the stands a clear view of the technique and skill on offer from Johan Andersson and Rostyslav Karpych with Ukraine taking the win on points.
In the Competitive Male division it was exciting to see countries like China and Peru making a strong showing, with a large team from Morocco and Iraq. A close fight between Canada’s Scott MacKenzie and Turkey’s Osman Ceken left both men exhausted with everything behind them in the ring. Turkey took the win on points, this both men’s second contest in this Championships.
Full results are on the IFMA website and IFMA Facebook.
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