The trailblazing Muay Thai fighter
Having won gold medals in the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) Asian Championship in addition to the Muay Thai tournament in Bangladesh, Masjedul Reza Omeo is a force to be reckoned with.
At the age of 14, he joined a gym to pursue Muay Thai. "My coach, Asif Bin Mahmoud, also known as Kru Ninsiam, believed in me and pushed me to become a better fighter since I began training. Besides him, the spirit of my teammates and MMA fighters also drove me to work hard," shared Omeo.
Back in November 2019, Omeo's coach encouraged him to participate in one of the weight categories of the first ever Muay Thai tournament in Bangladesh. Soon after becoming a national champion, Omeo began to shape himself up for the IFMA Championship. "The biggest issue for me was my weight. There was a lot of weight-cutting and intense training sessions in the little time I had to prepare," he recalled.
Muay Thai, which translates to "Thai Boxing", is not just a combat sport. It also requires one to use strategies at the right time. "I throw a lot of low kicks and use them as bait against my opponents. They think I'll go low, but I go high. I also tend to go for a jab and then a head kick," said Omeo about his favourite techniques. During the IFMA Championship, Omeo struggled to apply kicking tactics as the lights, and lack of Bangladeshi spectators made him nervous. "I mostly threw low kicks. I was wearing a tight vest so I couldn't opt for high kicks or mid kicks like I practiced in the gym," he said.
Omeo is quite optimistic about the future of Muay Thai in Bangladesh. "Since Muay Thai recently got full recognition from the International Olympic Committee, it is very likely that more people will be interested to engage in it," said Omeo's coach, Mahmoud. For those who are unsure about pursuing the sport, Omeo has some advice. "Just go and spar. Get hit on your face! Your fears will vanish when you're fighting. Of course, a lot of people can just take it up as an exercise as it boosts physical well-being," he added.
Omeo now plans to start training for the IFMA World Muaythai Championships, which will be held in Thailand this December.
The author is a freelance journalist.