Sports Fans Upset by Kun Khmer/Muay Merger in Upcoming 32nd SEA Games

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Cambodian sports fans have recently been upset with the decision to combine ‘Kun Khmer,’ the Cambodian national martial art – with Muay, the Thai/Lao kickboxing martial art in the upcoming-year 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which was being organized in Cambodia for the first time.


According to the Phnom Penh Post, unhappy fans, reacting to the decision, criticized the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) for being not patriotic enough to promote “Kun Khmer”, instead of linking it to Muay – the internationally known kickboxing of Thailand.

However, Vath Champoeun, who is the CAMSOC Secretary General and President of the ASEAN Sports Federation, told the Phnom Penh Post that the term Kun Khmer could not be used solely because thr SEA Games charter has defined the kickboxing sport as including Muay, regardless of what country holds this biennial multi sports event.

“Abiding by the SEA Games charter, we will keep the word Muay with ‘Kun Khmer’ preceding when advertising ‘Kun Khmer (Muay)’ in the 32nd SEA Games that our country will be hosting in 2023,” he said.

Fans of the above-mentioned sports in Cambodia and Thailand have long argued about the distinction between the sports and bitterly accused one another online of favoring an imitated version. Each claim that the kickboxing martial art originates from their home country.

Regardless of the prolonged rivalry between the two countries’ sports fans, Muay has been backed by most ASEAN countries to be included in the SEA Games since 2007. As hosted by Thailand in that year, countries participating in the sport competition were Laos, the Philiphines, Myanmar, Singapore and Indonesia.

In the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, Cambodian martial arts fighters attended the Muay competition for the first time and their debut involved winning a gold, a silver and two bronze medals.

The CAMSOC secretary-general, appointed to organize next year’s 32nd SEA Games, remarked that it would be great for Cambodia to solidify the rules and regulations of the ‘Kun Khmer (Muay)’ sport and promote its unique Kun Khmer martial arts to the ASEAN region and the world respectively.