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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bokator champs left in disarray

Bokator champs left in disarray

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Two girls grapple during the 2010 National Bokator Championships. This year’s tournament has missed its intended dates. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Bokator, a traditional  Cambodian martial art in which regular competitive events have been held in the Kingdom since 2006, has seen a power struggle between its two governing bodies delay the hosting of this year’s national championships.

The Cambodian Kickboxing Federation and the Cambodian Bokator Federation have wrestled for control of the sport, formally known as Labokkatao, while some high-ranking sports officials have expressed a desire to combine the two into just one organisation.

Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, told the Post yesterday he had been in discussions with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on how to solve the dispute that forced the postponement of the championships, which had been set down for July 18 to 22.

“Labokkatao is an ancient mart-ial art of Cambodia, and has been recognized and ranked 33rd by the World Martial Arts Union, an NGO in operational relations with UNESCO, in 2009. Moreover, Labokkatao also came second in international martial-arts performances in Seoul in 2010,” Thong Khnon said.

He said he believed the sport should not be under the authority of the kickboxing federation.  

Hok Chheangkim, general secret-ary of the Cambodian Bokator Federation, revealed another reason for the annual tournament’s delay.

According to him, documents requesting the rights to host the event were not submitted to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in time.

Grandmaster San Kim Sean, founder and president of the Cambodian Bokator Federation, told the Post on Tuesday he was deeply disappointed with the problems surrounding this year’s national championships.

He said the federation had tried hard to resurrect the martial art from its recent inactivity and promote its practice in the Kingdom and abroad.

The Grandmaster also noted that Bokator received support from many local and international martial-arts enthusiasts, as well as several high- ranking government officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and CPP legislator Cheam Yeap.  

“I have devoted a large amount of my own time and money to ensure Labokkatao is alive again,’’ he said.

“However, I really wonder why some officials at the Department of Sports under the Ministry of Educat-ion, Youth and Sports let it get stuck like this.”

According to letter No 4571, dated  December 27, 2010 and signed by Educat-ion, Youth and Sports Minister Im Sithy, there are 22 sports federations that conduct annual national champ-ionships, with Bokator among them.

Department of Sports officials at the ministry refused to comment on the delayed Bokator tournament.  TRANSLATED BY PANN RETHEA

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