Bare knuckle combat is skyrocketing in popularity and taking the lead is Lethwei, the national martial art of Myanmar. Leading the charge is World Lethwei Championship (WLC), the biggest lethwei organization in the world.
WLC has a stable of world-class lethwei champions from all over the world. Its events, 13 thirteen so far, are available on live broadcast in over 60 countries.
Currently, WLC has five world champions. The biggest star is Dave Leduc, a Canadian martial artist who has committed himself to the sport of lethwei and currently has close to half a million fans on his Instagram page.
The other champions are stars in their own right with France’s Souris Manfredi becoming the first female World Lethwei Champion in the male-dominated sport and Portugal’s Antonio Faria holding the most knockouts with four knockouts in four bouts. Other stars include former Middleweight World Champion Too Too, a transcendent athlete who is universally loved in Myanmar.
The Burmese sport of lethwei is similar to its neighboring cousin Muay Thai but utilizes one additional element to the striking arsenal, the use of headbutts. The use of headbutts completes the striking combos available to the athlete and a well-placed headbutt in the clinch or used as a launching attack can quickly turn a fight around or finish a bout in a matter of seconds.
Lethwei has a deep history that dates back close to a millennium with the first documented evidence of lethwei coming from the Pyu Dynasty (200 BC to 1050) in Myanmar. Initially used in hand-to-hand combat in wars against neighboring armies, it eventually grew into the sport it is today.
World Lethwei Championship
Started in 2017, the promotion is the first to organize lethwei events for the global audience. It opened the world to the sport with its multiple broadcast deals with UFC Fight Pass, Canal+, Fox Sports and more.
WLC cultivates the proud history and tradition of the sport by incorporating traditional fighter attire and dances, prayer ceremonies and music to their crowd-pleasing shows around the world, combining with modern entertainment tropes like a live DJ, pyrotechnics and extravagant entrances.
To learn more about lethwei, check out World Lethwei Championship’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @worldlethwei.