Under the vigilant supervision of Major-General Sajja Suksumek, director of the Army Sports Development Centre, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is in the active process of compiling data. The goal? To champion the case for Muay Thai’s inclusion in Unesco’s World Heritage List, a recognition that would indubitably place this martial art sport on the cultural world map.
With eyes on global appreciation for Muay Thai, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium has taken a significant step forward. A partnership memorandum has been inked with a distinguished Chinese enterprise. The agreement’s primary motive rests in promoting and enlightening six Chinese cities about the charm and vigor of Muay Thai.
The driving force behind the internationalization of Muay Thai is General Charoenchai Hinthao, the forthcoming Army chief. His faith in Major Sajja’s capability to carry on the previous Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong’s directive is unwavering.
Sajja relishes in narrating the rich history of the boxing stadium situated on Rama IV Road, sculpted in 1956. Originally, this arena served as the training ground for soldiers honing their skills in Krabi-Krabong and Muay Thai for military purposes. However, making history, the stadium pivoted towards introducing Muay Thai as a public sport, highlighting entertainment aspects.
The iconic stadium found a new home on Ram Inthra Road, only to be shuttered for approximately two and a half years, a quiet phase prompted by the worldwide pandemic Covid-19.
Once the storm of the pandemic subsided, the stadium opened its doors anew, boasting renovated infrastructure. With the government’s backing, it aimed to leverage Muay Thai’s allure as a soft power. As part of this fresh approach, a specialized Muay Thai school was set up. The three-round competition standard was put into practice to reel in the entertainment value. Fighters, according to Sajja, now bear the onus of bolstering their skills to imbibe an engaging quota for audiences.
Besides Muay Thai, the revamped stadium has also hosted mixed martial arts and thrilling kickboxing bouts, designed to appeal to foreign national attendees and the younger Thai population.
Collaborative efforts with public and private entities, notably the Sports Association of Thailand and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, play a pivotal role in promoting Muay Thai on an international platform and drawing foreign visitors to Thailand’s shores.
While maintaining training quality falls under the Labour Ministry’s scope, the Foreign Ministry undertakes the mandate of highlighting Thai boxers on a grand scale, as per Sajja.
“Muay Thai is a necessity for the global market,” he argues, reflecting a firm belief in the sport’s international allure and potential.