India’s award-winning female boxing champion Mary Kom visited Thailand between 8-12 December as part of a campaign to promote the increasingly popular global sport of Muay Thai boxing. The boxer was filmed visiting several popular Muay Thai stadiums, interacting with Thai boxing stars and also enjoying the sights and sounds of Thailand. The final cut of a VDO recording her activities will be shown to audiences in India across a broad spectrum of social and mainstream media.
Her visit was organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, and coordinated by the head office in Bangkok.
According to Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik, “Partnering with celebrities is a critical element of our marketing strategy for 2014-15. It is a very effective way to maximise efficient use of our budgets and emphasise the ‘2015 Discover Thainess’ theme, especially in rapidly-growing markets such as India.”
Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai Office director Soraya Homchuen said, “The film and subsequent buzz around boxing and Mary Kom has emerged at an opportune moment – just as we are trying to popularize Muay Thai as an experience for Indian tourists to Thailand to indulge in. We saw a great opportunity in partnering with this star.”
Born Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom on 1 March, 1983, the five-time World Amateur Boxing champion is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. She is the only Indian woman boxer to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, in the flyweight (51 kg) category and winning the bronze medal. She became the first Indian woman boxer to get a gold medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.
In 2013, she was awarded India’s third-highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan (Sports). In 2010, she was also declared Sportswoman of the Year 2010 in the Sahara Sports Award competition.
Her achievements hit mainstream India when Priyanka Chopra starred in a Bollywood film “Mary Kom” based on the boxer’s life. The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released on 5 September, 2014, to positive reviews from both critics and audiences. Kom has 1.5 million followers on Facebook and has become even more popular after the release of the movie.
India is one of seven countries generating more than one million arrivals annually. In 2013, Indian visitors to Thailand totalled 1,050,889, up 3.71% over 2012. Promoting Muay Thai boxing is one of the sporting highlights of the “2015 Discover Thainess” campaign, which focuses on everything that makes Thailand and Thais unique as a people, society and culture.
Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the national sport of Thailand. Once a skill that was essential for survival in battle, Muay Thai is now one of the most popular fighting sports in the world. Fighters from all corners of the globe travel to Thailand to train in Muay Thai, and it is no longer uncommon for Muay Thai fights in Bangkok or the countryside to feature foreign fighters on the fight bill. TAT also promotes the annual “Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony” to showcase some of the sacred rituals of Thai boxing. Held at the Ayutthaya World Heritage Site, it has become like an annual convention of Muay Thai boxers, featuring competitions, an exhibition and presentations by Muay Thai camps and gyms.