Mr. Yeo needs no introduction in the world of sport, one of the highest decorated judokas in the world, a 9th Dan former President of Korean Judo Association. He is a highly decorated member of sport community, Vice President of Korean Judo Association, President of Examination Committee of Korean Judo Associaion, Vice President of Seoul Athletic Association, President of Yongin University, President of Seoul Judo Association and many others.Mr. Yeo has been the IFMA Vice President and Vice President of FAMA for over 12 years. Despite his young age Mr. Yeo travels to all important meetings, championships and is one of the leading figures on IFMA youth development work.
— Mr. Yeo, as one of the highest decorated judo exponents in the world, how did you fall in love in Muaythai?
Being Korean I have been practicing martial arts since my earliest childhood. Taekwondo is our treasure and we Koreans are truly proud that it became an Olympic sport. Judo is the martial art with so many traditions and is full of excitement. Muaythai is also a martial art where the sporting and cultural elements are so deeply rooted. I truly like what IFMA stand for; the five pillars, respect, honour, tradition, fair play, excellence are not just words, they are practiced by every member of the muaythai family.
— You are an important member in IFMA youth development programme. What has changed from the old days?
I’ve seen so many changes in my life but one thing has and I hope will never change – we must protect the treasure – our children. We must give them roots to stand on but also wings to fly. The youth development is the most important. Cultural understanding in a world so desperately in need for peace, being part of sport and importantly have access to sport and education all this is a part of our work.
Kids today live in a different world. They have access to social media, internet and we must use this as an opportunity, to connect these children, to help them to understand the values and ethics and if you come to IFMA youth events you can feel and see that there is hope.
— Muaythai has gained large international recognition. What is the next important milestone?
I believe and I think I speak for all my colleagues that we must continue to strive for excellence in life and sport. I remember in 2006 in Korea at the Sport Accord Convention where muaythai was getting recognition as an international sport. It was a proud moment for me but since then many important milestones have been achieved. Regardless if on a continental level, inclusion in so many multi sports games in Asia, world level recognised by IWGA and FISU both organisations being important partner of the Olympic family.
But for me it is much more than just being part of multisport games, three years ago a fantastic event was organised in Iran – Peace through muaythai in conjunction with Peace and Sport. Events like this show that athletes truly have their own way of dialogue and that the power of sport is truly unique.
IFMA Sport Is Your Gang campaign which is now established around the world, while UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign in cooperation with UN Women – all this shows that athletes are role models, they inspire and it is our responsibility as administrators to use the power of sport to contribute to society.