Commission: A group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions.
Question: When is a boxing commission actually not a boxing commission?
Answer: When the commission is the Thailand Boxing Commission, otherwise known as the T.B.C.
Fact: The highly respected Japanese Boxing Commission does not allow boxers from Thailand to fight in Japan if they do not have a letter of clearance from the Thailand Boxing Commission. However, the T.B.C. is not an authorized governmental sports agency. It is not an authorized commission.
The one and only official association recognized by the government of Thailand is the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand, or P.A.T. The Thailand Boxing Commission oversees boxing and Muay Thai in Rajdamnern Stadium. Although not officially recognized, the T.B.C. regularly submits records and results of Thai fighters, some of which are bogus. Although aware of the T.B.C.’s actions, both the Sports Authority of Thailand and P.A.T. allow them to continue unabated.
All of Thailand’s sports, both professional and amateur, fall under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. The Sports Authority of Thailand is an office of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport and is the coordination center for sports programs, organizations and associations. They also monitor and control sports operations in and relating to Thailand and carry out other matters relevant or useful to sports.The Office of Professional Sports of the Sports Authority of Thailand supervises professional boxing and Muay Thai. There are two divisions, the Professional Sports Development Division and the Board of Boxing Sport. Some of the many duties of the office are: to formulate rules and regulations supervising professional sports, draw up guidelines on the development of boxing, to coordinate with private sectors in supporting boxing and to establish boxing funds.
Boxing has never been problem-free but Thailand is professional boxing’s Wild, Wild West, void of laws and guidelines most boxing fans in the western world take for granted. Untamed and free, it is the great, wide open; promoters double as managers and fighters are employees, a pawn in the business of boxing. More chaotic and frazzled than ever, Thailand’s professional boxing commission is in desperate need of someone who is willing to take unyielding action instead of making excuses or blaming cultural differences for its problems.
The Boxing Board of Sport, in conjunction with the P.A.T., is supposed to regulate professional boxing in the country, but it’s not quite clear what they do other than provide letters of clearance authorizing boxers to leave the country. With the backing of the Thai government, you would think the P.A.T. would take a more proactive role in professional boxing in Thailand – they don’t.
Below is a portion of an interview with the Secretary General of the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand, Mr. Nikom Rattanavich. The interview speaks for itself. Draw your own conclusions.
The Sweet Science: Hello sir, it’s nice to meet you.
Nikom Rattanavich: It’s nice to meet you too.
The Sweet Science: You are the executive secretary of the sole professional boxing commission of Thailand. Can you tell me about the Thailand Boxing Commission and why it’s regularly sending records of Thai fighters to countries outside of Thailand? Mr. Poempol Puthornjai, the Director of the Office of the Board of Boxing Sport of the Sports Authority of Thailand stated the T.B.C. is not an authorized, government commission and should not be doing this.
Nikom Rattanavich: The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand has an agreement with them, a commitment that allows them to send information abroad about our boxers.
The Sweet Science: Even though the Thailand Boxing Commission is not a commission and the Thai government has acknowledged this, the P.A.T. allows them to do act as a commission?
Nikom Rattanavich: Yes…
The Sweet Science: Isn’t this the P.A.T.’s job?
Nikom Rattanavich: (No comment)
The Sweet Science: The reason I ask this question is that I have several records that came from a Thai matchmaker in Australia, Mr. Tassanu Assawaphop and elsewhere. These records show numerous fights which never really took place. In other words, they’re fake. Mr. Assawaphop claims he obtained these records from the T.B.C.
If the Sports Authority of Thailand says they have no authority to provide anyone with records or results, why are they doing so and why aren’t you stopping them? Do they know the records are fake?
Nikom Rattanavich: (Long pause)…This is Thai style. We don't want any problems. This is business.
The Sweet Science: Excuse me but Isn’t it better for the long-term good of the sport to take care of these sort of problems? In the end, it benefits professional boxing in Thailand, don’t you think? Both from a financial and sporting standpoint.
Nikom Rattanavich: (Silence)…You must understand. Foreigners don’t understand, this is Thai style…it’s not the same as how you think.
The Sweet Science: Most of my readers and most boxing fans are not in Thailand, they’re outside of Thailand. I understand the culture is different, I’ve lived here for more than ten years. Regardless of Thai style, mismatches are mismatches, cheating is cheating and tampering with records or fighting under assumed names should be unacceptable to a boxing commission. It doesn’t matter what country it happens in.
What do you think about all the mismatches that take place here?
Nikom Rattanavich: (Silence) If a boxer is willing to come to Thailand and fight, why shouldn’t they be allowed to? They know what they’re getting into.
The Sweet Science: Have any boxers died in Thailand?
Nikom Rattanvich: Not that I know of.
(Note – For the record, I have not found any official deaths recorded attributed to boxing in Thailand.)
The Sweet Science: When boxers with fifty-plus fights are matched against fighters with only five or ten fights, or against someone who hasn’t fought for years, why does the commission allow this?
Nikom Rattanavich: We can’t stop promoters from making fights – it’s business.
The Sweet Science: What is it the P.A.T. does exactly?
Nikom Rattanavich: Well, I really don't do anything but I always seem to be busy.
The Sweet Science: You don't do anything. Are you paid?
Nikom Rattanavich: The budget is $430 (16,000 baht) a month. The secretary gets paid $215 (8000 baht) a month. The rest goes for expenses. I receive nothing.
The Sweet Science: So you do it for the love of the sport? How do you make a living? Are you retired?
Nikom Rattanavich: No…I just play…I'm a gambler.
The Sweet Science: You're the head of the P.A.T. and you’re a gambler? Some might think this is a conflict of interest.
Nikom Rattanavich: (Silence – no response).
The Sweet Science: Do you go to any fights?
Nikom Rattanavich: No, not usually.
The Sweet Science: Does anyone from the commission go? Someone from the commission should go, don’t you think?
Nikom Rattanavich: There’s no money for this.
The Sweet Science: Can you tell me what is being done to better professional boxing in Thailand? I still don’t quite understand what it is the P.A.T. does.
Nikom Rattanavich: We are now working on a project with the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. Fighters who travel outside of Thailand will need to provide their boxing ID cards to all promoters; it will be illegal if they do not show them. We plan to send a formal letter to all boxing promoters around the world informing them all Thai fighters must have their boxing ID cards to fight.
The Sweet Science: No offense, but I’m not sure what this is going to do. Promoters can just check a fighter’s passport. This would be the easiest way to verify a fighter’s identity. If they can get away with it, some promoters or matchmakers will use a fighter regardless of his record or name or whether or not he’s on suspension. What about visiting fighters; they are supposed to check in at the Boxing Board of Sport, aren’t they?
Nikom Rattanavich: Yes but this has nothing to do with the P.A.T. It’s up to them to do this but many do not.
The Sweet Science: So what will happen if a boxer does not show their boxing ID card when traveling outside of the country? Will they be fined or suspended? What is the penalty?
Nikom Rattanavich: (Long pause)… There is no penalty. Nothing happens.
The Sweet Science: So it's illegal to not show their ID card but if they don’t, nothing happens. What good is it then?
Nikom Rattanavich: This is Thai style. When we need to make a change we will. We don’t have authority to take action though so what can we do?
The Sweet Science: Fair enough. What about infectious diseases? If a fighter has HIV or Hepatitis, there is no policy stopping him from fighting in Thailand, right?
Nikom Rattanavich: It doesn’t matter, there is no policy forbidding him from fighting here.
The Sweet Science: Several Thai fighters have tested positive for hepatitis but continue to fight in Thailand. What would happen if one boxer was infected from a fighter who was known to be positive?
Nikom Rattanavich: (A shrug of the shoulders).
The Sweet Science: Again, no offense but I can’t help but feel the P.A.T. is a name and nothing more. I really hope boxing continues to be popular in Thailand and progresses on a positive path. Thank you for your time and cooperation.
Nikom Rattanavich: Thank you.