Local fighter Daniel Kim captured the bronze medal at the IMFA World Championships, held from November 27 – December 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The IMFA World Championships are considered the OlympicsÂ for the sport of Muay Thai (in fact, the IOC oversaw this years events).Â They are held each year in Thailand to honor and celebrate the king of Thailandâ€™s birthday.Â The best Muaythai fighters in the world converge on Bangkok with more than 120 countries sendingÂ fighters Â to compete this year. Â The event can be a grueling one for fighters, as weigh-ins are daily and fighter can face the possibility of having to cut weight every 24 hours to be eligible to compete.Â Each fight is 4 rounds, each round lasting 2 minutes, with 1 min of rest in between each round.Â Fighters wear headgear, chest guards, and Â shin guards.Â Scoring is based on points, with emphases on more traditional Muay Thai styles.
The United States was represented by the United States Muaythai Federation (USMF) National Muaythai Team, consisting of 15 fighters from around the country.Â The USMF National Muaythai Team had its best year by far, taking home 6 medals, including 2 golds, dispelling the notion that the U.S. is not very strong in Muaythai.Â The two gold medals equal the total number of gold medals won by the USMF National Muaythai Team in the past 10+ years of the IMFA World Championships combined.Â Standout fighter Eric Luna (San Jose, CA) won gold in his first appearance at the World Championships.Â Unlike fighters from other countries who receive stipends for competing, the USMF National Muaythai Team does not receive any monetary compensation for their efforts. The USMF team consisted of fighters Roel Alvarado , Jason Andrada, Marasella Badillo , Gaston Balonas , Michael Chase, Tyler Cronin, Eric Faria , Jill Guido, Jade Hayes, Daniel Kim , Austin Lingo, Eric Luna, Lindsey Marino, Bryan Petro, Amber Pope, Andres Sales, Katie Toliao, and Eric Utsch.
The Woodlands own Daniel KimÂ Â won a bronze medal in only his second trip to the IMFA World Championships. Â Daniel is the head Mauy Thai instructor for Gracie Barra The Woodlands. Â Kim had 3 fights in 4 days, and lost a tough fight to France in the Semi-Finals.Â â€œBy the time I got to the Semi-finals, my legs were pretty much done,â€ Kim said. Â â€œEverybody was watching each other, so they knew where I was weak at.Â The first couple of leg kicks he threw, I was able to block them, but he just kept trying for the leg kick. Â In the second round I tried to keep boxing and stay aggressive.Â In my corner, they were saying, â€˜how bad do you want this? Do you want this gold medal?â€™.Â I was saying to them â€˜YEAH! YEAH! I want itâ€™, but in my mind I was like â€˜eh, maybe notâ€™.[laughs] â€œNo, Iâ€™m just kidding, I really did want to win the gold medal more than anything, but the guy just kept on blasting my legs, and after so much, I just couldnâ€™t block anymoreâ€.Â When asked if he planned to compete again next year, Daniel said, â€œYes, there will be a next year because I want it bad enough and god has blessed me with thisâ€.
Daniel is trained by Kru Pong (Houston), Jongsanan Fairtex (California) and Kirian Fitzgibbons also in California.Â Along with his bronze medal a the IMFA World Championships, Kim recently won the IKF Amateur Muay Thai Rule Middleweight North American Title by defeating Dion Paminto via a unanimous decision back in October of this year.