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Professional Cambodian wrestlers strut their stuff


P'Chum Ben is usually a time for traditional games, but this year Cambodia's newest entertainment went on show


Professional wrestlers 'fight' during the showcase event at Vihear Suor village in Kandal province on Monday.

THE best of Khmer professional wrestling was displayed to a captivated crowd in Vihear Suor commune in Kandal province Monday. The act was part of the last day of P'Chum Ben celebrations, following amateur wrestling by local boys and men.

The Khmer professional wrestling group was established in 2006 and has five members. Monday was only the fourth time the group had performed before a live audience.

Chab Leun, a professional Khmer wrestler, said that this was the first time that the group had the chance to show off their style to the villagers. "The people were excited to be seeing us first hand, because most have only seen us on TV."

The four pro wrestlers were dressed in tight lycra suits that dipped below their belly buttons, white sneakers with white socks, and multi-coloured sweat bands, a snazzy contrast to the motley amateurs.  The heaviest of the group weighs over 200 kilograms, and his giant shaking thighs elicited cheers from the mesmerised crowd.

It's all about style

The group's style follows that of the famous American WWF program: faux wrestling that the crowd is initially meant to believe is real. Punches, kicks, and body slams are pre-orchestrated and no more than play-acting.

When we are acting out A scene we look angry, but it is only a technique.

"Our style was taken from foreign wrestling programs we have watched on TV," Chab Leun said. " We decided to establish a Khmer club because this style of wrestling was very attractive to people at the time."

"Wrestling is very dangerous," said Chab Leun. "But we follow the style closely. However, we do have to use real strength when we fight, otherwise it is not enjoyable for the audience. When we are acting out a scene we look angry, but it is only a technique."

Meas Sokry,  a boxing coach, said he thinks the wrestling on TV looks like a big joke.

"Khmer wrestling has only just begun, and it's not as strong as boxing. They are not fighting at all; they are only showing off their style."

 Hor Leang, a Khmer wrestler, said wrestling has a long history in Cambodia.

"The wrestling of the past was called Bok Cham Bad, and there are carvings of it on the walls of Bayon and Angkor Wat Temples. Our people used to fight in the rice fields. We used wrestling for exercise as well as sport," he said.

"Because of this tradition, our group will find a lot of support. We were surprised yesterday by the shouts and cheers from the crowd. It is a good sign," he said.

The group will perform next during the Cambodian Bokator (Khmer Traditional Boxing) Competition at Olympic Stadium next month. 



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