IFMA’s Tribute to Muaythai’s High Patron HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej rose to the greatest heights in modern Thai history and was in his lifetime, the pillar and soul of his nation. At the time of his passing yesterday, he was the world’s longest reigning Monarch, and had been recognised with several international awards, especially for his social contributions.
In Thailand, he was considered the father of many innovations in technology which not only helped the Kingdom, but also neighbouring countries. For the Thai people, he was the King of their hearts.
He fully honoured his oath of accession: “We shall reign with righteousness, for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people.” This oath was taken on the day of his coronation in 1950, when His Majesty was just 23.
He completed his education in Switzerland and participated in many sport activities near the Olympic capitol of Lausanne. After his Royal Coronation, he was faithfully devoted to his country, his people, travelling the length and breadth of the Kingdom to visit the poorest and most remote corners to face and solve the problems of his people. He spoke as much as he listened to the people, giving immediate help, finding permanent solutions. His Majesty initiated more than 3,000 innovative programmes, from public health and welfare, education, agriculture, environment and sport.
His Majesty also was successful in the fight against drugs in the notorious “golden triangle” through his Royal Project which helped to develop knowledge and educate the farmers and hill tribes in the north of Thailand. His Majesty’s project gained worldwide recognition for its success in eradicating opium poppies and improving the well-being of the people. The Royal Project involves the growing of a wide variety of cash crops, especially temperate plants, to replace opium cultivation, improve the living conditions of hill tribe people, and eliminate the slash-and-burn technique of clearing land. It began operations in 1969 and has now expanded significantly.
His Majesty was the patron of many sport events and associations. The National Olympic Committee of Thailand was under his patronage, as well as the national sport associations for athletics, badminton, basketball, football, judo, lawn tennis, rugby, shooting, yacht racing, boxing, and certainly muaythai.
Many King’s Cup events were held in his honour, and the Annual December 5th Muaythai King’s Cup was a dream for any muaythai athlete to compete at. His Majesty himself was a man of sport and participated in a number of sports including badminton, tennis and sailing. Together with his daughter Princess Ubolrattana he won the gold medal in sailing at the 1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games (now the SEA Games).
His Majesty believed in Fair Play. He stated that all sports like life, must be “played according to the rules”. On another occasion, he stated “Sports are important in the development of the country and people.” His Majesty believed that the Olympic and Sporting spirit must be always put first.
The International Olympic Committee recognised His Majesty’s efforts in using the power sport to create a positive change. In 1987 the IOC awarded him the Insignia of the Olympic Order and presented him with the Lalounis Cup on 2001 for his leading role in supporting and promoting sport.
Although His passing has plunged us all into mourning, His Majesty will live on in the hearts of the Thai people and those whose lives he has touched forever. The world muaythai community will continue to promote and develop his legacy to make this world a better place.
“In principle, sport is something with the basic objective to strengthen the body, and we can display our sporting skills to show unity and improve our quality of life. At present, sports are also important in another sense, in terms of society, which is to make the people in the nation show more interest in doing activities that are useful for the health of body and mind. This allows us to be a society with peace and happiness, and also helps make the nation prosper. In particular, international sports also broaden our relationships with other human beings in other countries. Therefore, sports are very important for each person’s life and for the nation. If we practice sports in the right way, that is, efficiently, this can bring fame to yourself and your nation. If we practice sports with order and health, that can also make us famous, and furthermore will encourage unity in the nation.”
– National Sports Day Royal Command given by
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1988)