The Secretary of the Lethwae (Myanmar traditional boxing) Federation, Sai Zaw Zaw, has told Mizzima that because Lethwae is a professional sport in Myanmar it cannot be part of this December’s SEA Games in Naypyidaw.
“Our Myanmar traditional boxing is at a professional competition level, so it’s not easy to register it as a SEA Games sport,” he said. “Myanmar traditional boxing is at an international standard whilst the SEA Games are an amateur competition.
“The Sea Games are for medals, not for money,” he added.
In Lethwae, a martial art similar to Thai kickboxing, prize money at a ringside event in Myanmar can vary between 30,000 kyat (US $30) and 4 million kyat ($4,000) per boxer.
Sai Zaw Zaw added: “In my opinion, we should try to get Lethwae included at other international sports events rather than focus on the SEA Games. By doing so, the sport will become well known all over the world and can also help promote the nation.
“Now everyone knows boxer Aung La [cage fighter in the USA] is from Myanmar. There are Lethwae clubs in Russia and Australia. There is not much different between Thai boxing and Myanmar boxing. We use knees more than the Thais. So, if we adjust Lethwae to become a registered SEA Games sport, we are worried that it may become just a lesser known version of Muay Thai [Thai Boxing].”