The History of FAMA

The traditional origins of Muaythai date back thousands of years to the time when Thai people’s fighting skills used their body’s natural weapons in battle.  During this time, a warfare manual named “Chupasart” was written.  This manual emphasized the martial uses of each body part.  The underlying philosophy of this manual implied that fighting is more than weapons use but must engage total commitment from mind, body and soul.

 During King Prachao Sua’s reign (1697-1709 A.D.), the King had such a love for the sport that he often fought incognito in village contests, beating the local champions.  When the nation was at peace, to keep the army busy he often ordered them to train Muaythai.

In 1774, the legendary Nai Khanom Dtom made Muaythai famous for his battle against a group of Burmese while he was a prisoner of war in Burma.  He was captured when the Burmese ransacked and burnt Thailand’s ancient capital Ayuddhaya.  He defeated ten of Burma’s best boxers – without pause, he took them on one by one through a battering and bruising contest.  He illustrated the favorable elements of Muaythai, the indomitable will to win for honor and the willingness to face any odds.  This can be summarized as “nothing can stand against you except yourself”.

The army fostered Muaythai. Soldiers have trained and used the techniques for as long as there has been an army in Thailand.  For the military it has always been the close combat fighting skills, the martial art of the battlefield.  When a Thai soldier fights hand to hand he uses Muaythai.  But then so does every Thai person, male or female.  Watching it, learning it, copying it is a part of Thai childhood.  It always has been.  Muaythai became the favorite sport and pastime of the people, the army and the King.  Historical sources show that people from all walks of life flocked to training camps.  Rich, poor, young and old all wanted some of the action.  Every village staged its prize fights and had its champions.   Every bout became a betting contest as well as a contest of local pride.  The betting tradition has remained with the sport and today large sums are wagered on the outcome of fights.  Muaythai competition was an activity that earned income for boxers throughout the Sukhothai, Ayuddhaya and Rattanakosin periods.

Until the early 1930s, the sport of Muaythai was very different to that of today.  There were no timekeepers, rings, rounds, or gloves.  Then, for a variety of reasons, rules were established to make it an international sport.  Five round contests were introduced along with eight divisions based on international boxing. Queensbury rules boxing gloves replaced the rope binding on the hands.

Since then Muaythai, both amateur and professional, has swept the world like a wild fire and developed into the premier ring sport – a fighting art with no equal in terms of unarmed combat and spectator appeal.

During the late 1980s, the Thai government saw the necessity to establish a regulatory body for Amateur Muaythai – holding bouts around the world and dealing with regulations and safety measurements and get international recognition for Muaythai

The late Mr. Bunjuen Suvantadha made sacrifices beyond the call of duty. From both a personal and financial perspective, he put everything he had into the push for Amateur Muaythai to be recognized.  He was instrumental in setting up the first Amateur Muaythai organizations named “Federation of Amateur Muaythai of Asia” (FAMA) and “International Federation of Muaythai Amateur” (IFMA).  Both organizations were established with the objectives of promoting Muaythai as a cultural art form, self defense and ring sport as well as pushing Amateur Muaythai to be included into GAISF, the Sea Games, the Asian Games and ultimately the Olympic Games.

In 1988, Muaythai associations from Malaysia, Macau, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan  and other nations officially joined together to form the Federation of Amateur Muaythai of Asia (FAMA); Mr. Bunjuen Suvantadha was voted as the first President.  In the same year, the 1st International Asian Championship was held, organized by the FAMA.  The great success of this event proved that it was essential to establish an international Muaythai body.

An international meeting soon took place in 1989, in Thailand with 20 amateur federations from around the world in attendance.  The discussion was focused on the first constitution, rules and regulations to establish a world federation, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA).

In 1990, the IFMA and FAMA were authoritatively instituted during its first world meeting.  Soon after many elating amateur Muaythai events were held, including the Prince’s Cups in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

On December 5, 1994; His Majesty the King of Thailand graciously granted that the first King’s Cup World Championship be assembled under the IFMA banner.

In 1995, the Muaythai world community received the historical news of the inauguration of the world professional body under the directive of the Thai government, the body known as the “World Muaythai Council” (WMC).  Both amateur and professional world bodies have always worked closely together for the betterment of the sport.  Many talented boxers commenced their road of recognition at the amateur championships, with their skills being nurtured until they are ready for the professional field.

The IFMA and FAMA continued to work successfully together and jointly acted as the sanctioning body for amateur Muaythai during the 18th Sea Games in 1995.  Then in 1996, the first Queen’s Cup Championship was held, organized by IFMA and FAMA.

Following the great success of the King’s Cup World Championship in 1998, His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya – the Privy Councilor to His Majesty the King of Thailand, accepted the position as the Honorary President of IFMA.

During that time General Vorayudh Mesommonta, General Secretary of the WMC was voted as the President of the IFMA and the AMAT.
Also in 1998, Muaythai was selected as a demonstration sport in the 13th Asian Games under the IFMA banner.  This clearly stated an acceptance from the Olympic Committee of Asia for IFMA and FAMA as the controlling body for Muaythai.  Sadly for all Muaythai enthusiasts, Mr. Bunjuen Suvantadha passed away merely 3 hours after the opening ceremony of the 13th Asian Games.  General Vorayudh Mesommonta was then elected as the President of FAMA.

While Thailand celebrated the 72nd Birthday and 6th Cycle Anniversary of His Majesty the King, the world’s longest reigning monarch, in 1999; in conjunction with this commemoration IFMA arranged Muaythai World Championships.
In 1999 the Open Asian Championships were also staged in Singapore.

The “Muaythai Against Drugs” campaign was officially established in 2001.  Many events under this campaign were held, organized by the WMC, IFMA and FAMA.  His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya, the Privy Councilor to His Majesty the King, was gladly accepted as the chairman of the campaign in which 50 countries adopted as their primary project boosting the image of Muaythai and spreading the message of ‘Do Sport, Not Drugs’ worldwide.  The campaign raised over one million dollars for Tsunami-effected aid under the IFMA and FAMA banner.
2001 was also the year that the Open Asian Championships were held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in which 32 countries participated.

Events under the IFMA  and FAMA banner were held annually, with another highlight being the World Cup 2002, held in honor of the 50th Birthday of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Thailand.  50 countries were carefully selected to participate, one country represented each year of his life.  The opening ceremony of this prestigious event was honored by the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Siriwanwaree Nareeratana, who graciously enjoyed the tremendous action in the ring.

Another sad incident also took place in 2003, the passing of the FAMA President, General Vorayudh Mesommonta.

The World Championship in 2003 held in Kazakhstan was the first championship ever held outside of Thailand.  His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya traveled to Kazakhstan to preside the opening and closing ceremonies, and represented Thailand.  The event was well received, showing the depth of amateur Muaythai talent around the world. His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya was elected as Honorary President of FAMA. Dr Sakyche Tapsuwan former Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, was elected by the Asia Executive Committee as the new President of FAMA. Mr Karim Massimov, Transport Minister of Kazakhstan was elected as First Vice President.

Today, the main objective of the FAMA is to unite all national Asian federations in working mutually for the sport and the athletes, although this is not an easy task and there have been many drawbacks along the way.  Efforts to unify with another sanctioning body have failed twice and have now been abandoned in favor of consolidation of its own members.

Another milestone for Muaythai took place in 2004 when Amateur Muaythai was included in the 1st Asian Indoor Games.

Also in June 2004, the IFMA World Meeting was attended by 78 representative executive board members as well as His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya, General Chetta Thanajaro and Dr. Santiparb Tejavanija, Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, and Dr Nat Inthraphan, IOC Member for Thailand.  This was followed by the World Championships held during November 5-12, 2004 with 69 participating countries. Fighters from all over the world competed in male, female and junior divisions.

During this same year, The General Assembly of International Sports Federation (GAISF) recognized the IFMA as a true international body following international sports law and structure, and recommended IFMA for inclusion as the world recognized amateur body for Muaythai.

In 2005 a Muaythai Cultural Festival was held and organized in cooperation with the Thai government.  Amongst the dignitaries attending were the GAISF President and Secretary General, Mr. Hein Verbruggen and Mr. Don Porter who were the guests of honor.  Included in the activities were junior Muay Boran and skillful demonstrations of Muaythai by male and female boxers.

In August 2005 FAMA organized the Asian Judge and Referee meeting and the first Wai Khru course opened and closed by H.E His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya and Dr Sakyche Tapsuwan, President of FAMA.

August 2005 was also the date for the Open Asian Championships in Pattaya.

2006 was undoubtedly the most successful year for Muaythai when it was confirmed at the World Congress in April in Korea, that Muaythai was overwhelmingly voted into GAISF and had become a full member of the world sport community.  His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Thailand granted audience with the President of GAISF, the Privy Councilor to His Majesty the King, the IOC member of Thailand, the President of the WMC, the President and General Secretary of IFMA; in order to congratulate and show his appreciation for IFMA and Muaythai’s inclusion into GAISF.

In mid 2006, the largest World Championships and the first Muaythai Expo brought 82 countries of athletes, equipment manufacturers, event promoters and fans together under one event; an immense effort for Muaythai by IFMA.  The opening ceremony was presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Siriwanwaree Nareeratana and the closing ceremony was honored by His Excellency General Pichitr Kullavanijaya who has been supporting the sport of Muaythai for over 3 decades.

In June 2006, Dr Sakyche Tapsuwan stepped down as FAMA President and  Mr Karim Massimov accepted the position of acting FAMA President, with an official election date set for August 2007 according to the FAMA Constitution. In 2007 FAMA President Mr Karim Massimov became the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.

As in any sport, there should be only one recognized body.

Over the years, FAMA has been involved in nine events of Prince’s Cup Championships, five events of Asian Cup Championships, and five events of King’s Cup World Championships.

FAMA started as a small federation with several enthusiastic countries more then a decade ago.  Currently at the dawn of an exciting new century, the federation can claim 34 Asian member countries and is a proud member of GAISF through IFMA.
The enthusiasm and commitment of the members, boxers and officials are the greatest assets that FAMA brings to this ancient sport of Muaythai.

2007 will be another historical year for Muaythai as FAMA Muaythai is included in both the SEA and Indoor Asian Games.  Muaythai as originated in Thailand more than a thousand years ago has become a world recognised sport today.  To mark this recognition, the World Championships, over a one week period (27th of November to 5th December), will be held in Thailand to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday with the whole nation.  Muaythai athletes from 100 countries are expected to participate, making it the biggest single sport event ever held in the Kingdom of Thailand, honouring the traditions and value brought to the world through Muaythai.

FAMA is a member of IFMA, which has seen notable achievments throughout the years:

1995 – First inclusion in the 18th South-East Asian Games (SEA Games)

1998 – Inclusion as a demonstration sport in the Asian Games

1999 – Recognition from the Olympic Council of Asia

2003 – IFMA World Championships held in Almaty, Kazakhstan

2005 – Inclusion in the 23rd SEA Games as a fully recognised medal sport

2005 – Inclusion in the Asian Indoor Games

2006 – Recognition from the GAISF (SportAccord)

2008 – Inclusion in the TAFISA Games

2008 – Inclusion in the Arafura Games

2008 – IFMA World Championships held in Busan, Korea

2009 – IFMA World Championships held in Bangkok, Thailand

2010 – Participation at the 1st Edition of the SportAccord World Combat Games, which brings together the 15 Olympic and non-Olympic world recognised combat sports

2011 – IFMA World Championships held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

2012 – IFMA World Championships held in Saint Petersburg, Russia

2013 – IFMA World Kids & Junior Muaythai Championships, Istanbul, Turkey

2013 – Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, Incheon, Korea

2013 – 2nd Edition of the SportAccord World Combat Games, Saint Petersburg, Russia

2013 – 27th SEA Games, Naypidaw, Myanmar