Lethwei is the fastest growing sport in the world, led by World Lethwei Championship.
The surge in popularity of the Burmese martial art is strikingly similar to the explosive growth mixed martial arts experienced in the last 2000s, and the sport of Lethwei has the potential to reach those heights in mainstream popularity, if managed right. To achieve that, here are five steps World Lethwei Championship (WLC) is taking to reshape the infrastructure of Lethwei, making it available and accessible to all.
Giving every athlete the opportunity to compete in Lethwei is the foundational building block to growing the sport. WLC will continue to serve as the pinnacle of the sport, while creating different levels of competitions that would allow for aspiring athletes to compete and improve their skills while working towards their goal of competing in WLC.
A global amateur tournament will be introduced within the next two years for athletes all over the world to participate in amateur Lethwei bouts, with local winners coming together to compete and eventually earning a contract in WLC.
Much like how martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo were taught to children across communities growing up, Lethwei wants to become accessible in every city so that children can learn important life lessons while adults can learn self-defence. With the proliferation of martial arts classes globally, WLC is working to introduce its syllabus of Lethwei techniques to martial arts students, that will help casual students as well as aspiring athletes that want to compete in the competitions mentioned above.
WLC is actively recruiting world champions in other striking disciplines in a cross-sport promotional sharing effort to showcase Lethwei as the best test of their striking prowess. An open contract is available for all world champions to test themselves and several kickboxing and MMA champions have already jumped onboard with these signings set to be announced soon.
WLC is the first and only lethwei media property to be available globally, and they are constantly expanding their reach to new territories. It is currently available in over 60 countries with key broadcast partners such as UFC Fight Pass, Canal+ and Fight Network.
The goal of WLC has always been to provide full access of live Lethwei fights to every single person on earth, and with each new broadcast deal, they are slowly making that a reality.
Currently, Boxing, Karate and Taekwondo are representatives of striking combat sports in the Olympics and the goal is to establish Lethwei as an olympic sport within two decades. While WLC will be the ultimate prize in their personal career, being able to participate in Lethwei in the Olympics will provide athletes with the opportunity to represent their country at the highest levels while establishing Lethwei federations all over the world to spread the growth of the sport.
Editor’s Note: Gerald Ng is the CEO of World Lethwei Championship. This article has been edited for length, spelling, and content.