By Ryan McKinnon
On Saturday June 10, schools from all over the province made the trip to Rexdale, Ontario to take part in 60 amateur bouts at the 2017 Muaythai Ontario Provincial Championships. As many as 100 athletes from various weight classes, age categories and skill levels competed in the event that started at 8 in the morning, with the last fight ending around 9:30 pm. Fighters showed up ready with the hunger to compete fiercely, all with their eyes on various prizes to take home to their respective schools.
Amateur Muaythai events in Ontario continue to steadily grow each year, with 2017 being the busiest so far. Our community has been treated to amazing promotions like SHEfights, The Mitsubishi Cup, and War At The Museum, to name a few. However, the energy that was emanating out of the stables at Woodbine Racetrack & OLG Slots this past weekend was something unique. For the first time in Woodbine’s history, a different species of ‘thoroughbred’ were strutting their stuff inside the massive building.
The championship tournament itself, originally scheduled for two days, was condensed into one day, which challenged our organization and its supporters to adapt to the new challenge. Just over a week before the event, a mass email to all of our MTO officials asked everyone to come out and participate. Solicitations for volunteer support were also sent using social media. The goal was to spread the word to a broader scope of potential advocates, rather than the usual supporters, so that volunteers could get a taste of what it’s like to be a part of our tight knit community at these larger events, and bring that energy back to their respective clubs. Approximately 23 officials from 15 clubs, along with 26 volunteers from within our amazing community all answered the call to help out, and showed up to the event ready to work hard. Parents, coaches, fighters, and fans made up the core of volunteer staff. It wasn’t just the fighters, coaches and fans who made the event, it was every person who showed up early and stayed late to ensure that the provincial championships went smoothly.
“(the Provincial Championship) was a testament to the power of what can happen when a community comes together.”
-Michael Reid, Executive Director
There was overwhelming praise from spectators and the community. We were told that it was ‘the most organized and efficient tournament to date’, ‘professional from start to finish’ and a demonstration of ‘incredible teamwork’. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a community that personifies the words ‘honour’ ‘loyalty’ and ‘teamwork’. Muaythai might be an individual sport once a fighter steps in the ring, but the people who get that person to the fight are as much a part of the sport as the nak muay themselves. An event like Saturdays was proof positive that it takes an entire community to make an event happen. A new standard keeps being made at every MTO event. This is exactly the vision that our founding members had in mind when the organization was being developed.
With support and cooperation like this, Ontario muaythai is positioned to represent the sport with professionalism and passion as it continues on a path towards the 2024 Olympic summer games. Michael Reid also stated that, “we should all consider a very real opportunity on the horizon: bringing the world’s best to Canada by hosting the IFMA World Championships.” With representation like what we all saw on Saturday, Canada will be ready when opportunity knocks.
We would like to thank every single person that sacrificed their time on Saturday to turn the event into a complete success. Every club, coach, fighter, parent and fan should feel proud to be a part of a community that continues to shine brightly within a larger international family. If it wasn’t for the support of our community, muaythai in Ontario would not have experienced such dramatic growth.
Khop Khun Khap!
Ryan McKinnon is the host of The Bloody Ballet Podcast and website, found at www.thebloodyballet.com. He is a regular blog contributor to www.lannamma.com and www.mississaugaelite.com. You can find him coaching 5 days a week at the Mississauga Elite Training Center.