“THE ERA OF MUAY YING”
THE ERA OF MUAY YING. These were the words in the promotional video from Lui Muay Thai, the media company responsible for promoting and marketing Super Champ and Muay Hardcore. Followed by this were clips of women that have competed on the aforementioned shows, of them getting ready before the fights, with their game faces on, and of action clips from the bouts themselves.
The video captured the grit, spirit, and heart that exist in women fighters that make their bouts all that more exciting. The entire video was voiced over from an interview with Angela Chang (the owner of muay-ying.com), with a bit that said, “It would be nice if, in the future, they [Super Champ and Muay Hardcore] put at least 30 percent, or maybe, even one day, 50 percent [women on the fight card]”.
So what was the big deal? What’s the fuss with all the women? Why the promotional video? Don’t they usually put women on the shows every week anyway?
That weekend, December 12 and 13, they weren’t just having one bout featuring women. And not two. Each card, with seven bouts a day, was to have three women’s bouts on it.
That’s six women a day that get to step into the ring, 12 over the course of the weekend. 42.85% women, if we’re being specific, compared to the usual 14.28% (when it’s just one bout a card) and sometimes 28.57% (when it’s two per card).
But, that’s not all. There hadn’t been a women’s main event for either show since Sawsing Sor. Sopit vs Brooke Farrell on Muay Hardcore’s inaugural show over a year ago. And for Super Champ, there had never been a main event featuring women. But on December 12 and 13 women bouts were featured as both the co-main and main events. Talk about making a statement.
When Super Champ first came onto the fighting scene a few years ago, there were zero women’s fights aside from the occasional matchup for Thai Mother’s Day. It was yet another weekly televised promotion that women could not get the opportunity to fight on, decreasing the already-low chances for competition, pay, and exposure. Women in Thailand had to wait for those scarce televised opportunities to turn up, knowing fully well the promotion would only choose two woman for one bout, or fight on more local shows that paid close to nothing just to stay active.
However, the turning point for women’s opportunities on the televised circuit was after Sawsing Sor. Sopit and Brooke Farrell fought as the main event on the inaugural show of Muay Hardcore. This prompted the prompter, Deer Kiatpetch, to take on Sawsing as the matchmaker for female fights for Channel 8. Shortly after that bout, they have had one women’s bout per show on both Muay Hardcore and Super Champ (with the very rare occasion of two female bouts a show).
While one women’s bout out of a card of seven or eight is not much, it was a step forward and especially allowed the women who were in Thailand long-term to gain more recognition on the scene. Super Champ even had a four-woman tournament at 57 kilograms in February 2020, a first for the promotion. A tournament was going to happen at 52 kilograms but all fights were forced to stop due to COVID-19.
Post lockdown in Thailand, the women bouts have continued on both Super Champ and Muay Hardcore, with Lui Muay Thai pushing harder than before to allow women to take up more space on the scene. Bes, the owner of Lui Muay Thai said in an interview with Muay Thai Gram, “The reason why we promote the female event is because in Thailand, all channels have male events but no one tries to promote female events.”
Especially now in COVID-19 times, there are no other shows in Thailand for women to fight on, aside from the local shows in the countryside and in Chiang Mai. Allowing women to take up more space is appreciated now more than ever.
As of recent, Super Champ and Muay Hardcore have been putting on two women’s bouts per card and that seems to be the new norm instead of one. Three per card may be pushing it for the time being, but with continued efforts from local media companies such as Lui Muay Thai, giving women the opportunity to show the world exactly why they belong on the same stage as the men, it will only be a matter of time before women are equally represented, paid, and respected in the sport.
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Thumbnail/featured image property of Lui Muay Thai