Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian kickboxers during a Kun Khmer friendly match at Town Arena in Phnom Penh. SUPPLIED

Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport.

Despite strong reactions from the Thai side – and threats of a boycott – the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) says it will not be budged.

CAMSOC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun said the decision had been affirmed in an informed letter shared with all of the participating nations. The letter explained that the term “Kun Khmer” was chosen as an expression of the host country’s national identity.

“Even if the Thai sporting federation takes issue with our decision and threatens to boycott, Kun Khmer will remain an event at the 32nd SEA Games. According to the rules, if there are four or more participating countries, it is eligible for the games. So far, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia are planning to enter, so we don’t care if one nation decides not to take part,” he stressed.

The firm position followed strong reactions from Thai officials.

Sakchye Tapsuwan, president of the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) and the Amateur Muaythai Association of Thailand, threatened a boycott in an interview with Thai PBS Sport on January 21.

“The association will not send athletes to compete. We have spoken with the Olympic Committee of Thailand and they concur. We will not send athletes to Cambodia,” he said.

The IFMA also announced that it will impose fines on all countries that send kickboxers to the games in Cambodia. Citing the SEA Games rules, it said both Khmer boxing and kickboxing in the SEA Games shall use the name Muay or Muay Thai.

“The IFMA has sent a letter to the countries of the ASEAN region, warning them that if they opt to participate, they will not be allowed to participate at the IFMA's sporting events, especially the upcoming Asian Indoor Games,” said Sakchye.

Chamroeun did not express any concern over the withdrawal of the Thai boxing team, saying that it was up to each country to decide whether or not to participate in any sport. However, he made it clear that Cambodia would not send kickboxers to the 33rd SEA Games 2025, to be hosted by Thailand.

“If Thailand includes Muay Thai in the 2025 SEA Games, we will not participate. They decided to boycott us over the name, so we will respond in kind. I am sure that many other countries will participate,” he said.

“We remain united in the development of Kun Khmer and Muay Thai in the form of friendly matches, no matter what. Multi-sport events like the SEA Games are different because we are representing our country. We must adhere to the principles of our nation’s cultural identity,” he concluded.


  • 12th Cambodia int’l film festival to see return of Hollywood star

    Phnom Penh is set to come alive with the magic of cinema as the highly anticipated 12th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) takes centre stage. Boasting an impressive line-up of 188 films from 23 countries, including captivating shorts, feature films, documentaries and animation, the festival promises an

  • Bareknuckle champion wants Kun Khmer fighter

    Dave Leduc, who is the current openweight Lethwei boxing champion in Myanmar, has announced that he will travel to Cambodia this year to challenge SEA Games gold medallist Prum Samnang any time that is convenient, after their planned match later this month in Slovakia was

  • Struggling Battambang artist dreams of staging full-scale gallery exhibition

    Leav Kimchhoth, a 55-year-old artist from Battambang province, is a familiar face to locals and tourists alike on the streets of the riverside in Phnom Penh. The one-armed painter and illustrator often hawks his work near the night market on weekends and public holidays. He

  • Fresh Covid warnings as Thai hospital fills

    A senior health official reminds the public to remain vigilant, as neighbouring countries experience an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the latest surge appearing to be a result of the Omicron XBB.1.5 sub-variant. Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health,

  • 1.4 billion dollar Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway due in four years

    The Government, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has officially signed a public-private partnership agreement with a private company for the construction of a Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project that will connect the capital to Svay Rieng province. The budget for the project is

  • New Law on Taxation comes into effect

    Cambodia has enacted the eagerly-awaited new Law on Taxation, which aims to improve the national tax regime’s compliance with present and future international standards and economic conditions; encourage accountability, effectiveness and transparency in the collection process; and promote investment in the Kingdom. King Norodom