World MuayThai Angels - a televised series of Thai Boxing fights which began this week in Bangkok, Thailand - caused quite the controversy when it was first announced but seems to be winning people over.
It's a variation on the reality TV show-theme with women fighting it out for a prize. This wasn't terribly well explained in the beginning, leaving many fighters miffed they'd been left out of a new tournament.
All of the women pictured above are fighters, with varying numbers of fights behind them. There were some rumblings about their looks, and a sense they were chosen for looks over fight ability. And, you know, there may be an element of truth in this as it is a TV show first and tournament second.
Sue Latta, head of the IFMA Female MuayThai Commission had this to say about it all:
"What most people forget is that this is a TV show not an International Championship regarding titles or world championships. It is a prize purse not a World Title that is achievable for the successful contestant. What is achieved is an increase in awareness and popularity in our sport.
"The public will get to see what hard work and determination goes into a fight: psychologically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This opportunity to showcase our skills and talents is great for our sport as the public will begin to view us as serious athletes, real fighters, not just females "doing their best". " This taken from the IFMA facebook page. *
|PIC - ThaiDay.com|
I was intrigued then to be sent this comment posted by Joe Cummings (renowned Lonely Planet Thailand writer) on his page - after he attended the opening show:
"I was sceptical going in but I think it's a novel approach that works. It's reaching an audience that had a hard time accepting female muaythai fighters, including a lot of women, who are being pulled in by the beauty side of it and then are held by the athleticism. I was one of very few farang in the audience, even though the fighters came from 15 countries, and judging from today's turnout, a majority of the audience were women."
Getting people to watch women fighting is always tough, there is still an element of the sideshow about it all for many viewers. 'Farang' is Thai for foreigner, so as there were a lot of Thais there that's a good sign. Definitely curious to see how these shows develop ...
What do you think?
(* I worked with IFMA for 6 years in Bangkok)