A New Era in Vietnamese Muay Thai: From National Champs to International Contenders

August 2, 2023
From: Spartacus

Vietnamese combatants, fresh off the momentum of their success at the The World Boxing Council (WBC) International Muay Thai titles, are now setting their gaze firmly on the global arena. This pivotal moment in the nation’s martial arts history is fueling excitement among managers and coaches alike, who are hopeful for a new chapter in the annals of Vietnamese Muay Thai – one that commands recognition on an international scale.

Take a moment to visualise the pulsating action at the Muay Thai Rampage (MTR): The Rising Stars event. In the midst of it, Vietnam’s own Huỳnh Hà Hữu Hiếu is frozen mid-kick, fiercely locked in combat with Thailand’s Pornthip Khamthongphanow. The intensity of the fight culminates in a breathtaking knockout by Hiếu, who secures the coveted WBC International Muay Thai women’s minimumweight title. This moment is more than just a victory for Hiếu – it’s a symbol of Vietnam’s growing prowess and presence on the international Muay Thai stage.

It’s significant to note that this was no ordinary competition. WBC International Muay Thai event was the first-ever professional level contest of its kind to be organised in Vietnam The event served as a proving ground for the nation’s fighters, and they more than rose to the occasion. They not only clinched two championship belts but also set off a wave of awe and admiration within the national martial arts community, leaving an indelible mark in the minds of fans and experts alike.

These victories, while significant in their own right, also open up a world of opportunities for the fighters. The wins have set them on a trajectory towards global titles, propelling them into the league of elite athletes. Most importantly, these feats are pushing Vietnamese Muay Thai into the international spotlight, almost six years after Nguyễn Kế Nhơn’s memorable WBC world title win back in 2018.

The Rising Stars event was a stage that bore witness to extraordinary feats of strength and skill. Hiếu demonstrated her technical prowess, executing a strategic knockout of the burgeoning Thai star, Pornthip Khamthongphanow, in the third round of the women’s minimum-weight category. Not to be outdone, Trương Cao Minh Phát made his mark by flooring Moroccan Hicham Boulahri in the third round of the men’s super featherweight division. Their swift victories over formidable opponents led to widespread acknowledgment of their unparalleled skills and prowess.

Following her win, a thrilled Hiếu remarked, “This victory has swung open the doors to a world title match for me.” Phát shared a similar sentiment, stating that the win served as a significant impetus for his martial arts journey and boosted his aspirations to face-off against the world’s best in forthcoming tournaments.

However, the path to global recognition is fraught with challenges. Hiếu is set to face off against American professional fighter Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu in the WBC Muay Thai World Title match. Duuglas-Ittu is a formidable opponent, holding the record for the highest number of fights by a foreigner in Thailand. She is a decorated athlete with 11 international titles to her name, making her an adversary worthy of respect.

For Phát, the challenge is no less daunting. Although his exact rival is still undisclosed, he’s certain to be pitted against some of the best fighters hailing from Thailand, the birthplace of Muay Thai. But Phát is undeterred, his resolve unwavering. He is now preparing for the rigorous training regimen that lies ahead, determined to make his mark on the world stage.

Despite the impressive roster of international champions in amateur competitions that Vietnam boasts, the lure of professional level recognition continues to be an elusive yet enticing target for many fighters. The recent victories of Hiếu and Phát signal a promising future for Vietnamese Muay Thai, provided they receive further support from international organisations and local promoting companies.

In a broader context, initiatives like the MTR series by Shadow Entertainment, which is officially recognized by the WBC, are playing a critical role in nurturing talent and orchestrating high-quality, globally recognized events. The company is envisioned to be as influential as world-renowned tournaments such as Super Champ, Max Muay Thai, and Rajadamnern World Series in Thailand. This, combined with local efforts to cultivate a cadre of high-quality ring officials, is viewed as a key strategic component in the bid to catapult Vietnamese Muay Thai to the pinnacle of international acclaim.

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