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SPONSORED MUAY THAI FIGHTERS: EXPLOITATION OR MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL?

Article from Sumalee Boxing Gym's blog talking about their criteria for sponsoring a fighter and what benefits the gym and the fighter receive from the sponsorship.

I like that, from the gym's perspective, it becomes more clear that sponsoring fighters is an investment with unknown returns. This is talking about western fighters, which is a different game than taking on Thai kids. It's a shorter-term investment and because of the interest in putting westerners on cards to sell tickets, less-experienced westerners are able to be presented on bigger shows in a shorter period of time. So investing in an 18-24 year old western guy for two years is reasonable, whereas investing in a Thai kid is generally starting much younger and waiting much longer before he's on the same type of shows, due to what's expected of Thais vs. expectations for westerners.

So, the western mentality of business relationships and sponsorship/support from a gym is influenced by this "growing up at the camp" romance that we envision about Thai culture, without really touching on the realities of those relationships. There is a MUCH bigger investment in Thai kids who may or may not become great fighters, versus the investment in westerners who may or may not become great fighters and then go home.

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