One combat sport that has always taken a backseat to Muay Thai is the Burmese art of Lethwei. The reason why Lethwei has remained a niche sport is because of its brutality.
Lethwei is as close to real street fighting as you can get. Lethwei is a form of bare knuckle boxing that utilizes headbutts and doesn’t use judges. In Lethwei, you either win by a knockout or the fight is a draw. Even if you are dominating your opponent, there are no judges to award you a win. This makes Lethwei fighters hunt for knockouts, rather than sit back and play for points.
While Lethwei has seen some popularity on YouTube, there is a new organization called the World Lethwei Championships (WLC) that plans on growing the sport of Lethwei to an international audience. They have One of the foreign fighters being debuted on their opening show is Eddie Farrell.
If you want to learn a bit more about Eddie, you can have a read through our previous interview: Selling Everything to Move to Thailand – An Interview with the Fighting Farrells
Before Eddie competes in his first Lethwei competition, I got a chance to pick his brain on why he decided to try Lethwei.
Interview with Eddie Farrell
You recently signed to a new organization called the World Lethwei Champions. Can you give us a bit of a rundown on the organization. Are you fighting in a tournament format with weight classes or is it open weight?
I’m fighting in there open weight division which allows there strongest fighter challenge anyone up to 75kgs, its just the one fight for now 5 X 3 rounds same as Muay Thai.
Was Lethwei something you have been wanting to do for a while or did the right opportunity simply present itself?
Yeah I have always wanted to fight bareknuckle and watched plenty of fights before. The opportunity was given to me a month before the fight so plenty of time to prepare and adapt training methods.
When I think of Lethwei, the first thing that comes to my mind are the head butts. What are some of the other rules changes that differ from Muay Thai. Are you allowed to clinch in Lethwei? I’ve notice they usually break fighters up fast when they get locked up.
The Lethwei fighters I have noticed don’t clinch like Thais but punch the body instead as damage with no gloves must take its toll. I’m sticking with MT technique and going to jam a knee up when he punches the body. Yeah they like there headbutts, I’ve felt the urge in a Thai fight but never done it hence the rules but now I can unleash haha.
Since you’ve never fought Lethwei before, have you been watching a lot of footage online to try and prepare for the fight? Are there any strategies that differ from Muay Thai? For example, I imagine that pacing yourself is essential for maintaining your stamina throughout the fight.
I’m keeping my style the same except punch and elbow more, be aware of the damage and having a tighter guard. I’m fit so not worried about gassing. My opponent has had 46 bareknuckle fights and 0 losses
Do you think Lethwei with its current ruleset, will ever become a popular sport like Muay Thai? I imagine that the use of headbutts would make it too brutal for a lot of people.
I’m seeing the sport grow and grow more as there was a big successful promotion just in Japan, I’ve been headbutted my dirty fighters in Muay Thai so doesn’t bother me.
After this fight are you planning on continuing to compete in Lethwei or is this just a one-off thing that you can add to your bucket list?
We will.see how this fight pans out, I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a cool promotion and get looked after over there and pays well. Its like the UFC for the Burmese lol.
How long do you plan on staying in Thailand with Brooke? Where do you guys see yourself in 5 years from now? Still in Thailand or back in Australia?
We have just moved to Phuket, we are super motivated being at our new gym Maximum Fitness, they are looking after us to grow our careers and choose the right fights and not just pump out fights like most of the other sponsored fighter gyms. We love the Thai life and Muay Thai, going home hasn’t crossed our minds yet.
Thanks for doing the interview mate. Best of luck in your upcoming debut