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WOOCS 2.2.5

FIGHTERS GONNA FIGHT – Queens of Muay Thai


Muay Thai has long roots in the history of breaking the gender barriers and violence against women. Muay Thai  is a sport and art of combat, which is thousands of years old and was long dominated by men. In 2002, the IFMA, International Federation for Muaythai Amateur Executive Board made important decision to break the walls hindering female participation in Muaythai. Decisions were made to change the IFMA constitution towards clear gender equality in both the participation level in the form of physical activity in the sport and in the top level decision making process of the international and national federations. Clear guidelines at every level in the Muaythai family were established to balance the participation of women and girls and to work towards all the roots of the problems in IFMA’s current and coming member federations.

Muaythai is a martial art and combat sport which stands on 5 pillars- Respect, Honour, Tradition, Fair-play and Excellence. The sport is governed by the IFMA, the sole world recognised governing body for Muaythai in partnership with the World Muaythai Council (WMC) under patronage of HRH the King of Thailand. IFMA very much aligns itself with the fundamental principles of Olympism as stated in the Olympic Charter, particularly in recognising that the practice of sport is a human right and that every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport without discrimination of any kind such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national or social standing or any other status.

Muaythai is built on ancient traditions that act as a cultural foundation that are very much fostered as they are promoted. For IFMA, it means that ancient attitudes that treat violence against women and children as a norm cannot be accepted. In 2014 IFMA signed an important MoU with UN Women at the joint congress that took place in Langkawi, Malaysia. There, the IFMA Executive Board established clear guidelines in the cooperation with UN Women, taking into consideration that there is no universal approach, both for gender equality and also IFMA’s fight against violence against boys and girls. Read more of IFMA’s promotion of women in sport .


This week we took Muay Thai in closer look, because 2017 European Muay Thai Championships are held at Paris 14th-21th of Oct. Especially our eyes focus on one familiar Steakster in Team Finland, Laressa Van Emden. Laressa fights in division of Seniors Elite Female 63.5kg and for her own words, she came to win a medal from these champioships. Today she fights against tough Ukrainas Oleksandra Pecheniuk. Schedule and more info of the event and fighters you find here

Laressa started competing 4 years ago from national champs, and has won since several medals from different championships, like one World Cup gold medal. These are her first European Champioships, but she has already been guessed as a possible medalist. All participants are seasoned medalists, like Swedens Erika Björnestrand and Svetlana Vinnikova (RUS) to mention only a couple tough opponents.

Muay Thai fighter Laressa Van Emden is in tight fit to champs
Muay Thai fighter Laressa Van Emden is in tight fit to European champs!

Laressa told us that she has prepared for these games by practicing once a week with notorious Jarkko Stenius, former Pro Fighter of Muay Thai and french foreign legion soldier (amongst all other things!) Laressa’s weekly routines consist also equipment training with Hannu Vappula from Lahti Thai Boxing Club. Alongside fighting she practices yoga and crossfit, but all trainings aren’t sweaty – she also “plays with energy”, as she describes, by dipping into the lake of Mytäjäinen through all year -even in winter time when the water temperature can go as low as 0 celsius. Like seal she swims in a hole made to ice! She is tough both mentally and physically, we think thats the secret of her success and she is truly an inspiration for all!

The European Champs are streamed live from youtube, see some top Muay Thai fighting live!

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