Can Lethwei become an internationally recognized martial art? The World Lethwei Championship (WLC) believes so, as they have recently unveiled an ambitious plan to grow the sport internationally.
WLC Chairman Zay Thiha and its board of directors were inspired after witnessing the success Asian MMA giant ONE Championship experienced in Myanmar. The WLC is a subsidiary of Lekkha Moun Co, Ltd, which was one of ONE Championship’s partners at the recent ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS event last October.
ONE Championship has held three events in Myanmar’s capital city Yangon in 2015 and 2016, and was the inspiration behind WLC’s creation.
“ONE Championship proved that a world-class martial arts event can thrive in the country, and we believe we can replicate that with the national martial art of Lethwei,” said Zay. “Lethwei events in the country leave much to be desired at the moment, and we believe we can elevate the sport and showcase Myanmar as a world-class sporting nation in the process.”
WLC’s first show, WLC1: THE GREAT BEGINNING, will take place on 3 March 2017, and will be the biggest Lethwei show in history. To accommodate an event of this magnitude, a new 6000-seater event venue named Mingalardon Event Zone will be constructed. This is the first of ten events scheduled for 2017, and there are plans to hold events in four international markets in 2018.
Zay stated: “In the martial arts communities, Dutch kickboxing and Muay Thai are regarded as the foundation for striking martial arts, but there is a wealth of knowledge from Lethwei that martial artists all over the world can learn.”
British Muay Thai Champion Nicholas Carter will headline the WLC1 card, taking on legendary Lethwei fighter Tun Tun Min in a mouth-watering champion vs champion bout.
WLC has also signed WBC champion Umar Semata, Swiss kickboxing champion Chris Luber, Australian kickboxing ace Eddie Farrell, ONE Featherweight Tournament Champion Phoe Thaw, and Khmer boxing champion Prak Chansin as part of its star-studded international roster.
WLC will introduce a level of professionalism not normally associated with Lethwei events, along with long-term contracts for its athletes. They have also tweaked the rules, with mandatory medical checks after each knockdown, and the introduction of a scoring system to determine a winner if the match ends without a knockout.
“To be world-class, we need to show it in every single facet of our operations,” said Zay. “That is why we are enforcing mandatory health checks for our fighters at our cost, as well as hiring many doctors to ensure the safety of our athletes at all the events.
“We have also changed the rules to better present the sport of Lethwei to an international audience. We have equipped our athletes to be the most prepared to entertain the fans in the ring, and we will combine that with world-class production to showcase Lethwei to the world.”
WLC1: THE GREAT BEGINNING will take place on 3 March 2017 at 7pm. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/worldlethwei