By Ryan McKinnon
Toronto enjoyed two great sporting events during the weekend of May 24 to the 26th. On Saturday the Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94 at the Scotiabank Arena, advancing to face the Golden State Warriors in their first NBA Championship since they entered the league in 1995. Just 3 subway stops away from the Raptors’ home court on the Yonge Line, Ryerson University hosted roughly 230 athletes and over 1000 Muaythai fans from all over Ontario for the fourth annual Muaythai Ontario Provincial Championship at the upper gymnasium of Kerr Hall at 50 Gould street.
Photo: Ryan Anthony
The venue brought the Provincial Championship to a new level; it possessed all of the capabilities to host an event of this size, including a strong internet connection to host the first ever Championship live stream. Ryerson is just steps away from Eaton Center, one of the busiest shopping hubs in Canada. Social media posts showed Muaythai gyms from outside the GTA taking full advantage of the delicious food and sites that the area surrounding Ryerson had to offer. Friday’s official medical check and weigh-in did see some challenges with rush hour traffic, however, Muaythai Ontario’s staff of officials, physicians, and volunteers saw to it that the 223 athletes scheduled to compete were registered in under 3 hours, giving everyone plenty of time to rest up before competition day 1.
Photo: Khao Gaeng Thai Street Food
Some new and old faces were present to provide attendees with meals and merch. Muaythai Ontario’s official equipment supplier, InFightStyle, was on site offering exclusive deals on merchandise and equipment to the community. InFightStyle has been supporting MTO since day one. At this year’s event however, IFS was represented by their new Canadian Distributor, the Diamond Muay Thai Shop, who brought forth the same standard of customer service and product quality that people are used to receiving when they buy from InFightStyle.
Also on hand was Khao Gaeng Thai Street Food, who came in on short notice to satiate the crowd with delicious meal selections that filled the air with scents that are reminiscent of a crowded Thai street shop with tables spilling out onto Bangkok’s busy roads.
Photo: Ryan Anthony
Once the official weigh-ins concluded and the bout list was published, the schedule for the weekend was laid out. 200 athletes from 72 Muaythai Ontario clubs would compete in 139 bouts across divisions on Saturday and Sunday (69 bouts Saturday, 70 on Sunday). While the days were long, they weren’t lacking in excitement. The upper balcony of the gym was packed with fans who roared with support for their heroes. With the exception of a small group of fans that let their passion get the best of them, the fans demonstrated respect and sportsmanship to the athletes that put it all on the line to challenge themselves in one of the toughest endeavours in sport.
Perhaps one of the shining highlights of the Provincial Championship was the number of youth athletes that participated, and the skill level that they demonstrated in their bouts. It was a testament to the success of the Canada Youth Movement, which has been hosting numerous events over the past year to provide young athletes with a platform to practice their technique in a safe and controlled environment. It is extremely exciting to watch our young Ontario athletes get better at each event.
Photo: Ryan Anthony
Once competition ended Sunday evening the Awards of Excellence were given to those who demonstrated something exceptional throughout the Championship.
Awards of Excellence are not exclusive to the athletes competing in Provincials, and also recognize the contributions and performances of the coaches, volunteers, and Officials that make Provincials possible.
And lastly, Team Excellence, awarded to the team with the most points for their Quarter Final (1 point), Semi-Final (2 points), and Final (3 points) wins throughout the Championship.
A big thanks goes out to everyone who made the 2019 Muaythai Ontario Provincial Championship the success that it was. Just like the Raptors, who earned their place in Canadian basketball history through the unique efforts made by the individual members of the team, it is our amazing community of volunteers, officials, fans, athletes, coaches, and vendors who contribute to the growth of amateur Muaythai in the province, and the success of every event.
Ryan McKinnon is the host of The Bloody Ballet Podcast and website, found at www.thebloodyballet.com.