Cambodian kickboxers Outh Phouthang, Pich Sophan, and Pich Seyha from the National Defence Ministry club, and Chey Kosal from Preah Khan Reach club look set to be allowed to enter the ring once more after seeing their domestic ban lifted. Former Cambodia Amateur Boxing Federation (CBAF) President Oum Yourann had forbidden the boxers to compete in the Kingdom after they returned from fights in Melbourne in July last year, which he claimed was arranged without the federation’s permission.
“We’ve decided to forgive them,” said Chhoeung Yav Yen, new deputy president of CABF. “But first, we need to give them an official letter, and second, inform the related institutions such as the National Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports about this vindication.”
The four fighters could not be reached for comment Thursday but, according to local newspapers, were all suffering from financial difficulties and had struggled to find alternative employment. However, they had continued to train at their clubs, and helped share their fighting experience and knowledge with other boxers.
Chey Kosal expressed disbelief at the decision, whilst maintaining that he had never received a valid reason for the ban. “President Oum Yourann stopped us from fighting just saying that we went to Australia without approval,” he told Rasmey Kampuchea in December. Since the ban, Chey Kosal had found work as a motodop driver.
Chhoeung Yav Yen said he has not cast judgement on the decision by the former CBAF president, with executive committee members from the previous mandate claiming it was a unilateral decision. However, other members have commented that they were unaware of the issue at the time.
“We need a good understanding between boxers, their clubs and the federation,” the deputy chief remarked. “However, we have to recognize that many of fighters do not know the rules well. When someone contacted [the fighters] directly, they agreed without informing the federation, because they needed money.”
Chhoeung Yav Yen affirmed that the federation is trying to strengthen their rules. “Even though we know that the knowledge of boxers is limited, we still need them to respect the rules. Individuals or groups who want to invite our boxers to fight abroad are welcome, but we need to know their itinerary first to avoid human trafficking.
“For example, they promise to give the boxer US$250 for one match, but they only give $150,” he explained, adding that every trip must be agreed by all relevant parties.
“The new executive committee is trying their utmost to make the best possible future for boxing in the Kingdom,” stated Chhoeung Yav Yen.
Oum Yurann could also not be reached for comment Thursday.