Srettha vows assistance for Muay Thai trainers to teach overseas
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin considers Muay Thai as the country’s top soft power with enormous economic potential, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said on Friday.
The prime minister said his government wanted to see Muay Thai taught in schools to help create more professional boxers who are capable of teaching the Thai martial art overseas, according to the spokesman.
Srettha made the remarks while meeting Muay Thai celebrities at Government House on Friday.
Well-known Muay Thai fighter Buakaw Banchamek and Chatri Sityodtong, chairman and CEO of the Muay Thai organisers ONE Championship, called on the prime minister at his office. They were accompanied by Pimol Srivikorn, who heads the government’s soft power strategy committee on sports.
Buakaw gave the PM a pair of Muay Thai shorts as a present while Chatri handed him an imitation champion’s belt.
Srettha also accepted Chatri’s invitation to preside over the opening of a One Championship event on December 22.
The prime minister said that Muay Thai is Thailand’s No. 1 soft power that brings enormous economic value to the country from live broadcasts and streaming to millions of spectators across the world, and merchandise, in addition to several thousands of Muay Thai gyms in the country and overseas, according to the spokesman.
Srettha thanked his three visitors for their contributions to Muay Thai, particularly Buakaw, who he said had given hope and inspiration to many younger people.
The prime minister also promised to make it easier for Muay Thai trainers to legally teach the martial art overseas. He noted that many of them travel with tourist visas and are hence prohibited from working in those countries. He said the Foreign Affairs Ministry would look into the matter. Also, the Immigration Bureau would make it more convenient for foreign tourists to enter the country for training in Muay Thai.
Srettha said the martial art had earned huge amount of revenue for the country, but he also told sports authorities to deal with people preying on tourists seeking Muay Thai training here. “The associations involved should keep an eye on those who cheat tourists as this is bad for the country’s image,” the PM was quoted as saying.