Abu Dhabi to become first Middle East city to host IFMA World Muay Thai Championship

The capital's bid was chosen ahead of Ankara, Moscow and Bangkok following successful staging of Asian Championship

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 19 , 2019.  
 Nouredine Samir (UAE), blue, takes the win against Shamlan Alothman (KUW) in the Senior Male Elite A 63.5 kg division at 
at the the IFMA Asian Championship 2019.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  SP
Reporter:  Amith Passela
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Abu Dhabi will host the 2020 IFMA World Muay Thai Championship following the successful staging of the recently concluded Asian Championship.

The capital was chosen by the International Federation of Muaythai Associations ahead of bids from Ankara, Moscow and Bangkok, making it the first city in the Middle East to stage the martial art's World Championship, which takes place in June.

“To host the Asian Championship for the first time and now the Worlds is a unique achievement for a federation that was established only in 2017,” Abdullah Al Neyadi, president of the UAE Muaythai and Kick Boxing Federation, said after the announcement on Monday.

“Abu Dhabi is already established as one of the leading venues in hosting world class sporting events and the Muay Thai Worlds is another addition to that long list.

“We were always confident and not surprised we won the bid. We presented a great continental championship and now we we’ll have to raise the bar to another level, which we certainly will do, for the Worlds.”

It follows a successful tournament for UAE fighters at the Asian Championship, held over five days at an arena erected on the Abu Dhabi Breakwater near Marina Mall.

The UAE picked up two gold medals, three silvers and two bronze in the elite division, and added two golds, four silvers and four bronze in the youth and junior categories.

The UAE returned from the last World Championship in Mexico in 2018 with a gold, silver and bronze medal.

“The achievements in the ring was indeed a plus-factor but we showed we can be even better in hosting a championship with our management acumen and organisation,” Al Neyadi added.

The UAE federation were praised for their hosting of the continental championship, drawing in  301 competitors from 26 countries, by both the IFMA president Sakchye Tapsuwan and general secretary Stephan Fox.

“Abu Dhabi has set the new bench mark in hosting the Asian Championship and they have the capacity to present an even better show at the Worlds,” Fox said.