The World Combat Games 2023 in Riyadh witnessed an enthralling display of strength, tradition, and inclusivity as the ancient martial art of muaythai took to the stage of the Cultural Square on Sunday 29th October. Also known as the ‘art of 8 limbs’ muaythai utilizes eight points of contact, including fists, shins, knees, and elbows, and features a rich history filled with breathtaking displays of athleticism.
In a celebration of heritage and culture, the Wai Kru and Mai Muay divisions emerged as full medal events, emphasizing the preservation of Muaythai’s centuries-old traditions. Both male and female divisions, along with a mixed category, were included in Wai Kru and Mai Muay, reflecting the Games’ dedication to gender equality and diversity within the sport. Notably, the captivating Wai Kru competition provided athletes with a platform to pay homage to their trainers and honor the rich legacy of the sport through ceremonial dance performances to the tune of traditional music played live by musicians who travelled from Thailand for the occasion. Moreover, the introduction of Para Muaythai at this year’s World Combat Games marked a significant milestone, highlighting the event’s commitment to fostering an all-inclusive environment for athletes of diverse abilities.
Many VIPs were present to celebrate the inauguration of Para(S) Muaythai including President of SportAccord Mr. Ivo Ferriani, President of the Saudi Arabian Muaythai Federation, His Highness Prince Fahad Al Saud, National Sports Development Fund Manager, Dr. Supranee Guptasa, IFMA President Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan, AIMS/UTS President and Vice President and IFMA Secretary General Stephan Fox, CEO of United Through Sports, Julia Govinden and Presidents and Executive Board members of the IFMA Family.
The Paralympic Muaythai competitions witnessed remarkable performances from local athletes Abdulaziz Al-Ayouni and Hasna Al-Najm, contributing to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s outstanding medal tally of 47 in the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games. Additionally, the victories of athletes Jonathan Govinden, who secured the gold medal in the Para Athlete (Autism) category, and Saudi Arabian Ali Al-Nasser, who triumphed in the limb deficiency category were all inspiring.
The World Combat Games 2023 exemplified a unified and inclusive sporting field of play, where Para and Special athletes competed alongside their able-bodied counterparts, uniting under the banner of their respective national teams. With the results from six sports, including Aikido, Armwrestling, Ju-Jitsu, Muaythai, SAMBO, and Savate, contributing to a unified medals table, the event was truly unique while pushing boundaries for a better, more inclusive world on and off the field of play.
IFMA President Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan said:
“The introduction of Para Muaythai stands as a significant testament to our commitment to creating a truly inclusive environment for athletes of diverse abilities. We are proud to have been able to debut Para Muaythai at the highest level during the World Combat Games 2023, an event that beautifully exemplified the values of unity, diversity, and respect. Congratulations to all the inspiring athletes from all the combat sports which have been part of this historical event, the first ever, all-inclusive multisport games.”
Congratulations to the amazing athletes!
To learn more about Muaythai and the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA), visit