Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The article below was contributed by Stephan Fox, Vice President of The World Muaythai Council and host of Contender Asia
The Contender Asia Season Two
Malaysia Truly Asia
Malaysia has won the bid the host season two of The Contender Asia, despite tough competition fromThailand, Singapore and Macau. Season two is shaping up to be even more successful than season one as the world is in Contender fever. Through The Contender Asia, the world will fall in love with the beauty of Malaysia from the vibrant capitol city of Kuala Lumpur to the mysterious Borneo and with no doubt the world’s most pristine beaches, from Langkawi to Terengganu, and all other places and sights which will be featured during production of the show.
The Contender Asia season two also possesses an aspect that wasn’t afforded to season one (Singapore)
- A world wide qualification process has been set up to promote season two whilst procuring the best of the best to participate on the show. The bar has been raised for this next installment of the popular muaythai reality show. A special 8 minute trailer was produced to promote Malaysia and the representatives of the Malaysian embassies and tourism board have been invited to the events in the various countries to present the Key to Malaysia to the winners.
Millions of people around the world are eagerly awaiting the start of the show and will follow the hopes and dreams of these 19 outstanding sportsmen from all five continents. So far 10 skilled and agile fighters have rightfully qualified for a coveted spot on the show. Prime Ministers, Sport Ministers, national television stations and newspapers, are wishing and hoping that their chosen athlete will bring home the Contender Asia fame and glory.
The first qualifier was held in Stockholm, Sweden. The event was televised on Eurosport, Fox Sport, TV4 and many other channels reaching over 60 countries and had a live audience of over 10,000 spectators. To the delight of Sweden, it was the IFMA bronze medalist Marcus Oberg that took the first spot.
From there, the event moved on to Canada, where the qualifier will be held in 2 legs. The first leg of the mega event was televised in North and South America. The final leg is set for March and will see Alex Ricci and Jesse Miles vying for the chance to represent Canada on the show. The Canadian Prime Minister will preside over the event.
Next up was Spain, and what an event is was! Madrid was in Contender craze. H.E. the Ambassador of Malaysia to Spain invited Spain to Malaysia, and when he presented the belt and key to the winner Rafi Zouheir, it was a Spanish flag fiesta in the 5,000 seater stadium.
Following Spain, was the first of the South American qualifiers, where Marco Pique, a true legend in the sport who took home the gold. His bags are packed and Marco is ready for Malaysia.
Next stop was Cape Town, South Africa, another sold out event which was televised live. Malaysia was advertised in a special presentation and at the end of the 8 man tournament, Bakhalule “The Zulu” Baai earned his place. This was one of the most memorable qualifying events, as the Minister made an emotional speech in which he outlined that sport can make a difference, and he hoped that through the Contender Asia, the world would come closer together, as not only would Malaysia be showcased, but the world will also learn about South Africa through Bakhalule, South African representative on the show.
London was next to host a qualifier, where the best competitors from all over the United Kingdom came together to battle for Britain’s spot on the show. Season one was a mega hit in the UK, aired prime time. The qualifier event was also aired on Sky Sport.
The event was sold out with people queuing for tickets. H.E. the Ambassador of Malaysia to the UK was on hand to present the belt and Key to Malaysia to Jordan Watson. The event received rave reviews from the local press and Sky Sport broadcast the show on 2 replays by popular demand.
Next up was Hong Kong, where it was decided who would be the Chinese contender. The event also televised on a local channel sold out and it was Heung “The Bomber” Pak Wing who earned the spot. Celebrations were in full force in Hong Kong after beating out boxers from the motherland.
Next up was Switzerland to hold a qualifier for the German speaking countries. The event was packed with celebrities from television, political and sports sectors. The event had a huge build up as Switzerland beat out Germany and Austria to host the event. When Swiss fighter Paolo Balicha won the final bout, there was no holding back the roars of the sold out audience. H.E. the Ambassador of Malaysia to Switzerland invited Paolo to his residence to congratulate him on his win.
The event then went down under for the Oceania qualifier. This again was a highlight event. Chandler Arena was packed to over capacity and people had to be turned away at the door for this Fox Sport event. It was Eli Madigan who will represent Australia, which was already in Contender fever from season one, as it was aired prime time.
Next up was Thailand. The event in Bangkok was an international qualifier which saw fighters from 8 different countries. The event was held in honour of H.M. the King’s birthday, televised in 170 countries and had a live audience of over 200,000 spectators.
It was a night where Malaysia made history as to the surprise of the world, it was Malaysia that took home a qualifying spot with Bernard Radin. This will give Malaysia the only country to have two spots on the show, as another event is in planning in Malaysia to qualify another Malaysian fighter.
To Bernard's left is Riaz Mehta, Producer of Contender Asia II, and on the far left of this picture is Stephan Fox, Vice President of WMC.
The last event of 2009 was held in Russia. The Malaysian tourism board showed up in full force to this nation wide telecasted event. It was 3 time world champion Levin Artem who earned the spot to represent Russia.
February and March will see the last remaining qualifiers in the United States, Italy, France, Thailand and the final event on the 1st of April in Malaysia for the last spot on the show to find the second Malaysian fighter.
The last major event will be in Denver, Colorado. The Summer and Winter Olympics IOC Executive Board, GAISF General Assembly along with all 108 recognized World Sports Federation, and all sports media will meet. The event will feature an Exposition Hall where Contender Asia will have a special display. Representatives from the sporting world will be able to preview the Contender Asia's upcoming Season Two. 19 athletes representing 18 countries and 5 continents will embark on the quest of the lives to compete for their country, their families, and themselves to become the champion of all champions and the next Contender Asia champion. More than 500 million people will be on the edge of their seats, crying with the losers, cheering with the winners, learning of the different cultures and will fall in love with a
country that can only be described as truly Asia, Malaysia.