ONE Championship's inaugural event in Thailand is set for the the Impact Arena in Bangkok on 27 May 2016 and will be headlined by Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke. The Strawweight champion will be making the first defense of his title and the event will also feature two of Thailand's biggest bands.
ONE: "Kingdom of Champions" will feature live music alongside the mixed martial arts (MMA) fights with two of Thailand's most famous bands, Big Ass and Bodyslam, set to perform. New ONE Championship President of Thailand Kamol ‘Sukie’ Sukosol, himself a local celebrity, stated:
"The Kingdom of Thailand has an undeniably rich martial arts history, and I am personally excited to bring ONE Championship, the world’s most exciting MMA promotion and Asia’s largest sports media property, to fans in the country who have been patiently waiting for years. One of our greatest champions, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, cannot wait to return home and defend his belt in front of a hometown crowd."
Sukosol, who founded one of Thailand's biggest record labels, believes the event will help to boost Thailand's tourism industry and image at a time when the country's economy is flagging:
"If ONE Championship's past events in cities in Asia like Singapore, Beijing, Jakarta, Dubai, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, are anything to go by this event in Bangkok will create significant media coverage around the world. Thailand will receive a lot of attention and we believe it will be a big boost for tourism in Thailand. It will show once again why Thailand is one of the greatest countries in the world."
Bangkok has a well deserved reputation as being the combat sport capital of the world. Thailand is probably home to a higher percentage of professional fighters than any other country and Sukosol is happy to see ONE Championship continuing this proud tradition:
"ONE Championship represents true martial arts and the values of honor, courage, humility, work ethic, mental strength, and confidence. Asia has been the home of martial arts for 5,000 years and we are here to show the beauty and values of all martial arts to the world."
The campaign to have Muay Thai introduced as an Olympic sport has never gained any serious momentum but Sukosol hopes that ONE Championship can help to change that:
"Just like we have helped all other martial arts in different countries, ONE Championship will help Muay Thai by boosting more participation all over the world and help to support more gyms in Thailand. ONE Championship will also help to put Muay Thai in the Olympics by increasing its popularity around the world."
The press conference was attended by a number of familiar faces from the Muay Thai scene including two time 'Fighter of the Year' Saenchai PK Saenchaigym, who is being linked with a move to MMA. Other local celebrities included Nong Toom, the transsexual boxer who had a movie made about her life, and Thailand's top fight promoter Nuttadej 'Boat' Wachirarattanawong.