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WLC to expand with Lethwei gyms in Cambodia

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
Lethwei is widely considered as the most brutal form of martial arts in the world. WLC

Cambodia will soon have facilities for Lethwei training and competitions.

The World Lethwei Championship (WLC), the organisation leading the promotion and development of the Burmese martial art, announced this week they are planning to open gyms in the Kingdom and other countries as part of their expansion outside of Myanmar.

The WLC is aiming to bring Lethwei to Japan, United States, Thailand, Cambodia and other parts of the world.

Cambodia is at the centre of this effort to promote Lethwei to the outside world. With several Cambodian superstars among their growing roster of athletes, WLC sees immense potential for the Kingdom going forward.

Cambodians are also among the biggest fans of Lethwei, making up 20 percent of the WLC’s social media fan base across various platforms.  “Cambodia has always been our top priority for international expansion since day one,” Gerald Ng, the CEO of WLC, said in a prior interview.

Ng said the opening of Lethwei gyms around the world is part of a bigger plan to make the martial arts more mainstream and widely available, especially to the younger generation. He stressed the aim is to make Lethwei as accessible as Karate, Kickboxing and Kun Khmer.

“Training Lethwei from an early age is a great way for young kids to learn discipline and boost their self-esteem,” he noted.

“Our Lethwei culture, as well as Cambodia’s Kun Khmer, is ingrained with great values of courage, respect and perseverance. It is bound to create role models that can have a positive impact on our societies. Needless to say, there are also tremendous physical benefits from training Lethwei and Kun Khmer,” he added, indicating the facilities could also be used for Cambodian martial arts bouts.

Kun Khmer and Lethwei, both of which originated from the ancient times, have similarities. Though Lethwei has a more fearsome reputation among boxing and martial arts aficionados. In Lethwei, competitors fight bare-knuckled, leading for the sport to be dubbed as the ‘most brutal martial art in the world’.

The WLC did not mention the possible locations of the Lethwei gyms. However, Phnom Penh could be one of them, especially since the city will host the first-ever World Lethwei Championship outside of Myanmar in the next few months. Likewise, the timeline for the opening of such facilities has yet to be disclosed.

The World Lethwei Championship in Phnom Penh was originally scheduled for April 3, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has rescheduled tentatively to September 18.

The local people are expected to welcome the establishment of Lethwei gyms and the holding of the World Lethwei Championship especially since martial arts rank as among the most popular sports here.

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