Discover Muaythai: Social Business Pioneer in Sports

Discover Muaythai (D.M.T.) is a sports based social enterprise that empowers the underprivileged youth via the sport of Muaythai and also alternative education. 

In its business, D.M.T. operates three outlets, at Jalan Alor (Bukit Bintang), Setia Alam and Puchong, where it provides Muaythai based health and fitness training to people from all walks of life. D.M.T.’s signature training style is a hybrid of traditional Muaythai with fitness drills that are fun and holistic. Their methods are proven to help their clients achieve their fitness goals.

“The more the country is being developed, the more people from certain areas will be left behind. The unemployment rate among youths in Malaysia is at 10.9% and increasing during the pandemic,” said Imran Harith, one of the co-founders of Discover Muaythai. 

As part of its social mission, selected underprivileged and at-risk youth from all over Malaysia undergo a four-month self-development programme at the D.M.T. Academy.

“The routine is intensive and they also learn important skills to be employed after the programme. After they graduate from D.M.T., they become better human beings,” explained Imran.

How It Started

In 2008, when Imran was 18 or 19 years old, he went to Chalong in Phuket, Thailand to learn Muaythai. He was not academically inclined, but was drawn to the sport. Back then, authentic Muaythai instructors were hard to come by in the Klang Valley. So, he got on a flight to spend a few months in Chalong to learn the art of Muaythai. Not from a privileged background, he was prepared to sleep in the gym for the entire duration of the programme. 

However, he was not prepared for what greeted him at the airport. Young boys such as himself from different countries were drawn to Chalong to learn Muaythai, and there was actually a Muaythai village there. 

Fresh out of high school, he stayed in a hostel with boys from other countries. On the morning of the first day, they all followed the Thai boys who went to the temple to pray. 

“After we came back, I noticed the boys opening their books in the gym and they were cleaning the gym too. I asked someone why they were doing that. I was told that these boys were orphans, victims of domestic abuse, child trafficking and other traumatic events. They were brought from all over Thailand to the Muaythai village to be rehabilitated. I felt deeply moved by what they were doing for those boys,” said Imran.

“My time at Chalong was a profound experience that changed my life and inspired me to do what I do today at D.M.T. I still go back to the Muaythai village once a year to visit,” he added. 

D.M.T. has a successful fitness and gym business with three outlets, but it also has an academy where boys from correctional centres and low-income families are trained in Muaythai and self-development in a four-month programme. There have been four batches so far. Each batch had eight to 15 kids. Besides learning Muaythai, the kids have to undergo counselling sessions and do some volunteer work for Eat Shoots and Roots, among others. Doctors and nutritionists come to check up on the boys once a month to see how they are doing health-wise. 

“In four months, they learn about discipline and values. They learn that they don’t need their gangs. We help them to build up their skills and self-esteem. At the end of the four months, they become qualified Muaythai practitioners certified by Persatuan Muaythai Malaysia (PMM), Majlis Olimpik Malaysia (MOM) and World Muaythai Council (WMC),” said Imran. 

“After they graduate, we want to ensure that they have jobs. Some become D.M.T. coaches or staff, while others become part-time coaches. They have the opportunity to grow to make something of themselves,” he explained.

“Over the years, we have had many inspiring success stories, such as boys going from hardcore poor to national athletes. One example is Awangku Abdul Rahman, who became a SEA Games Silver Medalist (Manila) and a SUKMA Gold Medalist for Sarawak. Moreover, we had one homeless boy who was not homeless anymore after the programme,” shared Imran.

Growing D.M.T.

Picture: Imran Harith (Middle)

D.M.T. is a part of the Pemangkin Usahawan Sosial Hebat (PUSH) programme, and supported by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). PUSH is a scale-up programme with an ambition to grow social enterprises and increase their social impact through a personalised capacity building and skills development training.

“PUSH helped us to make our organisation more systematic. We realised that as a business, there is room for improvement. As a result, we now have an accountant and a dedicated person to handle our social media accounts. We (founders) don’t need to do everything ourselves and micromanage everything now. We learnt how to improve our marketing to grow our reach too,” said Imran.

How You Can Contribute

Discover Muaythai is one of the social business pioneers in sports. You are invited to visit one of their three outlets to attend classes. If you like it there, you can sign up for a gym membership. Besides regular adult classes, they have kids classes, advance classes and female only classes. By supporting their business, you will be supporting the academy and helping the boys too.

“All of our trainers are certified and accredited by Persatuan Muaythai Malaysia (PMM), Majlis Olimpik Malaysia (MOM) and World Muaythai Council (WMC). Each of them have their own specialisation and some are experienced Muaythai athletes. All of them have to go through a Muaythai and fitness specific course on a regular basis for grading and quality purposes,” said Imran.

“We welcome volunteers too. Come to teach the boys skills that could be useful to them, such as computer skills, language skills, photography skills, design skills and others,” he added.

Besides that, you can support D.M.T. by buying their equipment and merchandise. There offer street wear too.

To find out more, you can visit their website and social media pages: