FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AUSTIN, TEXAS (17 January 14)—If there was ever a time and place for a stand to be made to fight for the art and sport of Muaythai in Texas, then a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) courtroom is more than appropriate and the time is now.
The much anticipated saga between the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and the Muay Thai Alliance of Texas (MTAT) unfolded today as arguments were heard in a contested case stemming from allegations that the Alliance held a combative sports contest without proper licensing from the state agency.
Testifying for the TDLR was Inspector Robert Tapia, who stated he was on hand at Texas Muay Thai Talent Search 9 held on December 1st, 2012 in Edinburg, Texas. Despite testifying that he served as inspector for 11 years with the department, he went on record to reveal that he has no experience as a Muaythai fighter, trainer, referee, or judge, but that his expertise is in Western Boxing. He further went on record to state that he has worked in his capacity as inspector at two Muaythai events and a plethora of MMA events.
Tapia further established that he is licensed by USA Boxing and was a boxing instructor, but as the State’s top witness, and with no Muaythai experience or expertise, he was unable to meet the State’s burden of proof by showing that the allegations levied against the Alliance are in fact, true.
The Alliance, represented solely by its Founder and Chairman Pramajarn Kayan Sitsanthaparn, instantly attacked Tapia’s credibility during examination and went on record to demonstrate the MTAT’s bonafide status as the state’s first and only organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the art and sport of Muaythai, its mission, purpose, training program, accepted educational standards, talent searches, as well as its status as a recognized organization under the appropriate governing bodies.
As established by the Alliance, the National Treasure of Muaythai is regulated solely by the Kingdom of Thailand, the Sport Authority of Thailand, the Thai Ministry of Culture, the World Muaythai Council, and the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur. In response, perhaps the most scathing comment from the State’s witness came toward the end of Tapia’s testimony as he stated, "WE control and regulate Muaythai. We don't recognize any of those guys or their governing bodies (referring to the aforementioned). WE’RE the governing body and WE issue the licenses."
“Perhaps someone should have told Mr. Tapia that Muaythai originated in Thailand and not in Texas,” Pramajarn Kayan Sitsanthaparn said tongue-in-cheek after the hearing. “As proud as I am to be from the Lone Star State, his comments were not very flattering nor will they be well-received by the Muaythai community. Nevertheless, they show the agency’s attitude toward an art and sport that they know nothing of nor wish to know anything about…a change needs to be made immediately.”
Of the hearing, which culminated in less than two hours, Sitsanthaparn stated, “This is a great day for Muaythai. Although the organization was presented with a settlement offer, we refused to take it—not at the expense of our hard work and integrity over the years. I’m here to fight or die for what we believe in.”
Sitsanthaparn further stated, “It was an honor to go to battle for Muaythai. I used to work as a lead legal assistant for a few prominent attorneys in Houston and in the Valley. Even though I was rusty, I’m still sure that the state wasn’t expecting me to know procedure or how handle the hearing.”
This is not the signal for a lawless, “free-for-all” mentality though.
“I’m confident that Muaythai won today—creating understanding and setting the foundation for sweeping changes in the state’s legal system,” he added. “We will continue to carry out our mission the way we always have—with honor and respect for the law—although I feel that we’ve established that the State’s laws and attitude toward our art and sport are majorly flawed.”
As he headed to the parking lot adjacent from the Clements Building, Sitsanthaparn smiled and added, “Just as in the ring, one should never underestimate his or her opponent.”
With the Burden of Proof on the state agency, the Administrative Law Judge will be reviewing the evidence presented by both sides and issue a Proposal for Decision in the next few weeks, which will be heard before the TDLR and the Commission.
First the TDLR, next the floor of the State Senate and House of Representatives….Welcome to the Muaythai Revolution.