By Kitinan Sanguansak
Singha Corporation has extended its support to the Thailand Boxing Association for four more years following veteran Kaew Pongprayoon's remarkable showing in the London Olympic Games, where he won a silver medal.
Kaew’s silver in the light flyweight division presented a commendable return for the Thai boxing team, which fielded only three fighters, the smallest squad to compete in an Olympics for years. It also prolonged the country’s proud record of winning at least a medal from the sport in every Olympics since 1976 – with the exception of the 1980 Games, which Thailand boycotted along with Western nations protesting Moscow’s occupation of Afghanistan.
Despite failing at the last hurdle, the 32-year-old Kaew won the hearts of Thais after producing a spirited display against three-time world champion Zou Shiming of China.
Kaew and two other members of the Olympic squad, Sailom Ardee and Chatchai Butdee, were among the TBA delegation that visited Singha’s office yesterday and thanked the firm for the long-standing support it has provided to Thai boxing.
Santi Bhirombhakdi, the Singha president, took the opportunity to praise the Thai boxers’ performance at the Games before confirming that the company would continue its support for the sport.
“I want to congratulate the athletes, coaches and the association’s officials for bringing smiles to Thai people with their dedication.
“We’ve supported several sports associations such as weightlifting, taekwondo and boxing with a budget of more than Bt100 million every four years.
“We will continue to support the TBA for the next four years until the next Games in Brazil. We offered them a Bt20 million budget. We also decided to give an extra Bt2 million for the athletes and officials for making Thai people happy,” said Santi.
Kaew, who made his first and only Olympic appearance in London, reiterated his decision to take up a coaching role after more than a decade in the ring.
“I will take a break for the next two to three months before taking up the role as an assistant coach. But this will depend on how the next president perceives the situation after General Boonlerd [Kaewprasith] has decided to leave the post.
“It would be great if I get a chance to coach a boxer who would be able to claim a medal at the next Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said the Kamphaeng Phet native.