Suspicions that kickboxer Ei Phouthang carried his acting skills into the ring last week may cost him his fledgling career on the big screen.
The lionized fighter is under investigation over Thursday night’s debacle at Olympic Stadium, in which the 28-year-old champion took a beating from an Australian opponent before angry fans pelted him with water bottles and ended the fight.
The bad publicity comes as the pugilist embarks on an acting career, having wrapped up a starring role in one movie, he is working on the production of two others.
Producers of two of those films voiced concern Monday for their young star’s image.
Producer Nop Sambath said filming of “Three Aces” is delayed as Ei Phouthang recovers from a dog bite on his leg, which the fighter blamed for his dismal showing Thursday.
Many spectators at the bout, however, have said they believe their one-time hero threw the fight.
“I want both broadcast and print media to take a quotation from Ei Phouthang [stating] that he didn’t take a bribe in that fight. What happened was that he was seriously injured, a dog bit his leg,” Nop Sambath explained.
“Some day kickboxing fans and moviegoers will know and feel sympathy for him, because he was trying to protect Cambodia’s honor and fought even though he was sick,” Nop Sambath said.
Contacted by telephone Monday, Ei Phouthang’s wife said her husband was not at home.
The fighter has finished his role in “Beast Village,” a film set during the French colonial era. Director Sak Sithorn said Ei Phouthang’s plunging popularity was alarming, as the movie’s release is a month away.
Many fans of the country’s top fighter are still searching for a reason behind his poor performance, which this week spurred an investigation by the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation.
“All his fans will stop supporting him if doesn’t explain clearly what the problem is,” said 46-year-old Khuot Sokhom, a motorbike taxi driver.