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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NFL star tackles Khmer boxing and wins

NFL star tackles Khmer boxing and wins


Dhani Jones concludes week of Khmer boxing training for TV program with win over Phanit


Cincinnati Bengals player Dhani Jones during his fight Sunday against Khmer boxer Phanit at CTN Stadium.

CINCINNATI Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones concluded an unlikely week of training in the art of Cambodian kickboxing Sunday with a three-round victory in an exhibition fight against local boxer Phanit at CTN Stadium.

Visiting the Kingdom to film an episode for Discovery Travel Channel program Dhani Jones Tackles the World, Jones, 30, easily won the bout, his latest in a global tour that sees the NFL star learn local sporting techniques before a final showdown to put his new-found skills to the test.

Heavyweight kickboxer Phanit, who hadn't performed in the ring professionally for three years and who showed clear signs of fatigue after only one round, hardly came close to matching the NFL star Jones.

Jones had been studying the Cambodian fighting style Pradal Serey for eight days with local club Sala Vorn Sports, training out of the city in an attempt to emulate typical preparation routines. One day Jones was training in a Cambodian's living room, the next shifting bails of hay in a rice field. In an effort to learn the culture, the NFL player also took trips to the temples of Angkor Wat, ate deep-fried tarantulas and visited the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh.

 "Coming to Cambodia and learning the original Southeast Asian form of kickboxing, we try to understand the way the sport affects the people and the people affect the culture," Jones told the Post before the fight.

Jones had studied Muay Thai the previous month as part of the show and described differences with the Cambodian variety as very minimal, noting that "the way they use the knee" varied from styles "and the training is a little grittier [in Cambodia]."

Yet, there was nothing gritty about the American opponent's performance. In a post-fight ringside interview, Jones stated that he "was simply trying to get through six minutes any way he could.... I was taking ‘em like a champ". In truth, though, this was a straightforward demolition for Jones.

If the American held an advantage in size, then the climate and surroundings should have been with the Cambodian. But as he was to do with his opponent in the ring, Jones, before the fight, dismissed the climate as a factor: "I couldn't care less about the humidity, rather an elbow or a knee," he said.

In the end, he needn't have worried much about his opponent either, suffering only a swollen lip.



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