IFMA Muay Thai European Cup 2001 was held from May 21 to May 27 in Odessa, Ukraine.
IFMA European Cup 2001 was the first time when I have heard of Muay Thai aspiration towards Olympics. I was 14, partaking in the championship as a junior, representing my homeland Belarus.
At that time IFMA (International Federation of Muaythai Amateur), established in 1993 as a subsidiary of AMAT, has already existed for solid eight years. In 1998 Muay Thai appeared as a demonstration sport at the 13th Asian Games. The following year IFMA was recognized by Olympic Council of Asia. It was reportedly granted an exclusive right as an organization to develop and represent the sport of Muay Thai globally.
To date, almost 25 years since, IFMA is formally recognized by all major initiatives and organizations in Sport including SportAccord and WADA. Four years after launching the “Muaythai towards IOC” campaign, the Art of Eight Limbs received a provisional recognition last December.
Meanwhile IFMA has held numerous of World and European championships, as well as featured Muay Thai in many official sport program such as TAFISA Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, among others.
The most recent was IFMA 2017 in Minsk. The World Championships that showcased the strongest field of athletes. The next is The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw in July. A highly anticipated happening where Muay Thai makes its debut as official medal sport.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Inspired by the Olympic flame, many of those Muay Thai devotees unfortunately are no longer the active participants inside the boxing ring. This is due to an obvious reason, since it has indeed taken a very long time. However a fundamental work has been certainly done, providing a new generation with the opportunities for years to come.
As for IFMA 2001 in Ukraine, I’ve battled out in the 54 kg class. Taking a unanimous decision against a representative of the country-host in the semi-final, I faced off my lifetime friend Vitaly Gurkov in the final. The latter came out victorious earning his first Gold on the international level, whilst I was awarded with a Silver medal.