Kickboxers Vie for Spots on National Team

Stuffy, humid and reeking of the pungent oil used to keep muscles supple and warm, the dressing rooms at the TV5 station’s boxing arena were full of fighters waiting for their chance to step into the ring on Tuesday.

Some of the competitors exercised to relieve their pre-fight tension, some to make sure they were properly warmed up for their bout. Others mentally prepared themselves or tried to keep their minds blank.

Despite the small winners’ purse the Ministry of Youth Education and Sports put up for the competition, many of the country’s top fighters decided to take part in the seven-day tournament with 495 boxers facing off for spots on Cambodia’s national team.

On Tuesday, the third day of competition, the spectators had al­ready seen their fair share of blood.

Several competitors walked out of the ring with bloody noses or cuts to their foreheads from elbow blows.

Chhoeung Yavyen, the ring doctor at the Cambodian Ama­teur Boxing Federation, said about 10 boxers were cut by their ad­versaries’ elbows on Monday alone.

He added that the average fight went the maximum five rounds.

Prek Preah Sdach Boxing Club coach Khom Samnon said 10 of the club’s most experienced fighters are not participating because of the small prize money.

But that has opened up the field for newcomers, including Arth Vichay, who is also from the Prek Preah Sdach club. The

19-year-old said he has fought

15 times, including a knockdown in the first round of his match on Tuesday.

While Arth Vichay won only a small amount of money—about 30,000 riel (about $7.50)—he said he would not have passed up the opportunity to participate.

“I am happy to fight here be­cause, I want to gain more experience,” he said.

The competition, being held in two rings at the TV5 station, continues until Monday, when the championship bouts will be held.




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