For many years, the University of Sydney has been a breeding ground for sportsmen and sportswomen, alike. SUSF has worked tirelessly to ensure all students’ sporting interests are catered for, and in 2018 launched Sydney University Muay Thai Club (SUMT); the first of its kind, which is open to all.

While muay thai classes have existed for 20 years in the form of fitness classes, run through the Sydney University Boxing Club, it was only this year that it became a fully-fledged club.

Winding the clocks back to 1998, the classes consisted of a small amount of passionate individuals learning the discipline under the guidance of coach, Chin-Liang Beh (CL), at the old HK Ward Gym. Fast forward to present day, and the muay thai classes have now evolved into a standalone club, SUMT.

The decision for the evolution of class to club stemmed from a repeated demand from the campus’ muay thai community, who wanted more opportunity to further their skills in the discipline, and represent the university in state and national competitions.

The formation of the club will allow for a broader range of class styles, which will cater to all athletes, regardless of their ability. The opportunity to represent the university at tournaments will give enthusiasts, such as the club’s President, Philip Le, a chance to showcase their skills on a larger stage.

While the club’s long-term focus is to compete in state, and nationwide tournaments, it’s still only in its initial stages of growth. This means the current priority is building membership, developing the coaching team, and growing the club’s presence around campus. The classes run at a manageable pace for those participating for fun and fitness, which means more cardio and conditioning circuits are integrated into the training regime.

However, for those athletes who wish to further their muay thai training, or even create an amateur career from the sport, the club offers more complex drills, 1-on-1 training, and competition guidance. As part of the club’s current strategy, amateur competition development pathways are being established to provide representative opportunities for athletes in 2019.

“Part of what makes this club so great is that it truly caters to everyone, whether they are looking for something social, or seeking to enter competitions. It’s not uncommon to see veteran members training alongside newcomers. As our coach, CL, puts it, ‘Training ethos is driven by both the individual, and the community. All abilities are welcome,'”Le said.

According to Le, many athletes, such as himself, start combat sports through boxing, however, can’t help but be drawn to the discipline of muay thai. “It’s a true test of combat as a sport,” Le said.

“While the Sydney Uni Boxing club is fulfilling; I always found myself drawn to the style of muay thai. I first tried the sport in 2015, through the fitness classes, and I was immediately hooked. I loved the sport’s full body physicality, and the great training environment that CL had fostered. I’ve been training with him ever since.”

Getting any sport off the ground is a challenge in itself, particularly one that is as niche as muay thai. “It’s worth noting that none of this would’ve been possible without the university’s muay thai enthusiasts and the SUSF team that were heavily involved throughout this journey,” Le credited.

“With so many successful clubs on offer, sport has become just as important as academics at USYD. A healthy balance between the two should breed the best results in both”

SUBxC is firmly part of the fabric of our sandstone surroundings, but will the next decade see SUMT regarded as one of the campus’ most popular clubs? Philip Le seems to think so, “If the past few months are any indication, I see this club only thriving in 10 years time.”

The fusion of, ever growing, newcomers, and veterans training together will make for an attractive environment to students, and members of the public, alike.

Through the help of SUSF, the club offers Elite Athlete Program positions, which only serves to draw more people on board. “So long as we continue to have the backing of our wonderful community of muay thai enthusiasts at the university, I don’t see an end in sight for the sport with SUSF,” Le said.