Israel’s Muay Thai queen Nili Block heading back to World Games

Originally scheduled for 2021, the upcoming World Games were rescheduled for 2022 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 NILI BLOCK continues to perform at peak level in Muay Thai and will compete in the 60kg category this month at the World Games. (photo credit: Nili Block/Courtesy)
NILI BLOCK continues to perform at peak level in Muay Thai and will compete in the 60kg category this month at the World Games.
(photo credit: Nili Block/Courtesy)

Nili Block has been an athlete on the global stage for quite a while. She was a member of the Israel National Team in flag football and has been participating in Muay Thai competitions for many years, in many locales around the world.

This summer, Block will once more participate at the World Games this July in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I am super excited, entering the ring and competing at the highest level,” said the 27-year-old Israeli to The Jerusalem Post.

Block was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Israel with her family at the age of two. Her journey first began when her mother took her to the first Muay Thai (or Thai kickboxing) lesson when she was 10 years old.

She began training under Beny Cogan, who is currently Israel’s national kickboxing and Muay Thai coach. She has continued under his tutelage to this day.

ISRAELI FIGHTER Nili Block (left) captured her fourth straight gold medal at the IFMA World Muaythai Championships over the weekend in Bangkok. (credit: AYELET/COURTESY)ISRAELI FIGHTER Nili Block (left) captured her fourth straight gold medal at the IFMA World Muaythai Championships over the weekend in Bangkok. (credit: AYELET/COURTESY)

“I’m an athlete and Muay Thai gave me a lot of confidence and independence, as well and shaped me into who I am today” Block exclaimed. She described the “breakthrough in her career” being Belgrade, Serbia, at the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Amateur Kickboxing World Championships in 2015, where she took a gold medal.

“I’m an athlete and Muay Thai gave me a lot of confidence and independence, as well and shaped me into who I am today.”

Nili Block

She is a four-time world and four-time European champion at International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA). At the World Games in 2017, she won a bronze medal in the sport. Block will compete in the 60kg category at this year’s event.

Advice for beginners

Block’s advice to beginners wanting to learn new moves is to first focus on honing the fundamentals.

“You want to have as many tools as possible, so be open minded to expand and learn. But sometimes you have to go back to mastering the basics.”

“This sport could be seen as ‘too aggressive’ and some will say it’s ‘only for boys’, but I think it can also be for little girls since it teaches them self defence and to stand up for themselves.”

Block’s suggestion to parents of young children is “to expose them to it as much as they can, but don’t force it on them.”

Originally scheduled for 2021, the upcoming World Games were rescheduled for 2022 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Games is an international multi-sports event that features sports disciplines that are not seen at the Olympic Games and are usually held every four years; usually one year after a Summer Olympics event.

“I think over the years Muay Thai has been granted the stage that it deserves. Here in Israel, it is recognized by the government and gets financial help. They don’t get that support in some other countries. But Muay Thai is still a growing sport.”