Long before she was schooled in the art of knocking someone out, Sovannahry Em was taught to take life as it comes; bullying, domestic conflict, didn’t matter. She was to handle situations, to never be sad or angry, never be anything but well-mannered.
But not now. Not when she’s home in California and certainly not recently when she found herself in a cage in Singapore. Now, Sovannahry Em fights.
They call her the “Sweet Savage”—every professional fighter needs a nickname—and the latter half of the moniker was definitely on display in Singapore, on Jan. 29. She cut down her taller, heavier South Korean opponent, Choi Jeung Yun, a skilled kickboxer, pinned her torso and right arm to the mat and pummeled her face with left hooks that were equal parts precise and ferocious until the referee had no choice but to declare Em, 28, the winner by technical knockout.