This year marks the World Lethwei Championship’s (WLC) fourth year of existence, and it has already made noise on a global stage.
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The companies impact on the sport in such a small time-frame is unprecedented; their deal with UFC Fight Pass has allowed Lethwei to grow exponentially and integrate itself into Western society. They have been able to broadcast their events to over 100 million people across 60 countries, enabling foreigners to learn about the rich history and traditions of Myanmar culture.
Since 2017, they have hosted eight events within Myanmar, which lured thousands of first-time viewers and fans into the ancient sport.
Due to its growing success, it only makes sense for the WLC to broaden their horizons and look for other markets to delve into. The first stop on the international expansion of Lethwei is a huge one…
Lethwei was set to expand sooner or later, and 2019 is looking like the perfect year to do. The World Lethwei Championship has its sights set on Cambodia – a nation with combat sports ingrained in its peoples DNA.
Unknown to many, Cambodia has its own historic martial art known as Kun Khmer. Also known as “Free Fighting,” Khun Khmer consists of standup fighting along with a clinch, and can often resemble the sport of Lethwei itself.
Gerald Ng, CEO of the WLC, released a statement to The Body Lock regarding the organization’s decision to make Cambodia the first stop on their international takeover.
“We have set our sights on making Cambodia the first stop on our international expansion. Outside of Myanmar, we have the most fans in Cambodia so it makes the most sense and they have been amazing in supporting both their national athletes and the promotion.”
“Cambodian fans have shown incredible support to WLC’s efforts and have been some of the most passionate fans in the world. We want to be able to channel that passion to put on an incredible event in Cambodia and showcase the culture of Cambodia to the world!”
Ng also stated that the event would showcase the cultural traditions of Cambodia, meaning we may see a mix between Lethwei and Kun Khmer.
“With our broadcast on UFC Fight Pass and other partners, we are able to showcase both Lethwei and Kun Khmer boxing together for the first time. Imagine tuning in to World Lethwei Championship and getting to discover two new martial arts!”
Cambodia’s top-ranked female fighter, Eh Yanut, makes her Burmese bare-knuckle debut on the August 2 super card, which pitches undefeated Dave Leduc against UFC veteran Seth Baczynski for the vacant cruiserweight title.
This will be the first time a female has competed in the WLC, but Yanut is no stranger to pressure and high expectations. She is the daughter of legendary Cambodian kickboxer Eh Phutong, who used to compete in Kun Khmer himself.
The very thought of hosting an event that will display both Burmese and Cambodian traditions is an exciting enough thought to have fans subscribing to UFC Fight Pass; it would be monumental.
Stay tuned for more updates on the WLC’s potential visit to Cambodia.
Steven specialises in MMA and Lethwei. He loves a good 1-2 down the middle.