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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Punching pundit peps up pugilists

Punching pundit peps up pugilists

T

op US boxing coach Al Wile is a man on a mission - to put some punch back into

Khmer amateur boxing.

The country threw in the towel on the sport during

the troubles of the last 30 years and Wile answered a call by the Ministry of

Education, Youth and Sport to get the noble art off the ropes.

Wile, who

supervises the training of coaches for the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, is

spending two weeks here putting 35 eager boxers through their paces at the

Olympic Stadium.

But it has been no walk over for him as many of the

budding pugilists have had trouble converting from the kick-boxing style they

are used to and some of the techniques on display would have the Marquess of

Queensbury turning in his grave.

Wile is also training 20 coaches and he

hopes they will promote the sport throughout the country. He said: "I want to

develop boxing in this country. Even though there are only 20 people it's a

start."

His stay coincided with a tournament organized by the military at

the Olympic Stadium that included some international-style bouts which Wile

refereed. Some of Wile's students took part and did "extremely well."

It

wasn't all completely serious however. One observer at the tournament quipped

during a power blackout: "As a boxing coach Wile may have been used to the

phrase 'putting somebody's lights out' but it means something completely

different here."

During the first bout Wile kept his refereeing low-key

because he "didn't want his butt kicked by the 6,000-strong audience."

He said he would like to come back again next year.

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