Thiago Teixeira is not a popular man in Thailand right now. The Brazilian has decided to represent Kun Khmer and it has not gone down well in the home of Muay Thai.
Last weekend Teixeira won the WMO middleweight title in Germany. He beat Joe Craven by second round stoppage in a fight that made very few headlines until people in Thailand realized that the Brazilian had started paying homage to Kun Khmer.
Cambodia recently enraged Thailand by announcing that the name Kun Khmer would be used instead of the name Muay Thai at the upcoming SEA Games.
In this climate Teixeira’s decision to pose with the Cambodian flag and proudly proclaim himself a Kun Khmer representative was never going to go down well in Thailand. But the WMO was so upset it decided to strip him of the belt:
In a strongly worded statement the WMO accused him of bringing the sport into disrepute declaring that,
His actions were politically motivated and fundamentally unsportsmanlike aimed at degrading the national sport of Thailand and inciting hate.
The issue appears to have arisen from a now deleted Facebook post. But Teixeira has not made much effort to disguise his love of Kun Khmer, his official Facebook page describes him as
Brazilian fighter, Khmer heart
But love of all things Khmer appears to have taken the WMO by surprise. Having belatedly discovered that the Brazilian no longer wanted to represent Muay Thai the organization has decided to strip him of his title and ban him from future events.
— Chheng (@Chhengniem) April 1, 2023
Teixeira claims that a Netflix documentary is being made about his life. He appears to have courted controversy by claiming that Muay Thai has its roots in Kun Khmer and the Cambodian sport came first.
This is an extremely sensitive topic. Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia all have their own versions of Muay Thai which, while nearly identical, have never attained the same level of global popularity.
It is a centuries old debate that the Brazilian has unwisely decided to insert himself in the middle of. It might have won him a lot of fans in Cambodia but it has cost him the title he won last weekend.