More than 600 of the Kingdom's toughest fighters prepare to do battle over 13 furious days as surging interest in the sport forces officials to turn away competitors
SOME 610 fighters will compete in
Cambodia's annual Khmer Traditional Kick Boxing Championships, which
start today at Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, an event official said
Tem Moeun, vice president of the Cambodian Amateur Boxing
Federation, said clubs across the country had nominated their fighters
for the competition, but only 408 kickboxers and 202 boxers were
selected for the 13-day tournament ending October 21.
"The number [of competitors] increased compared to last year," Tem Moeun said. "Boxing is now becoming more popular."
added that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports had to limit the
number of competitors this year because of budget considerations.
All contestants were selected from the 48-75kg weight classes.
selected only qualified boxers," Tem Moeun said. "We have had lots of
experience from previous competitions, so anyone performing [illegal]
acts will be punished."
Keo Bunheng, 22, who has fought about 50
bouts, said this year's competition would be a big challenge for him
because of the number of strong fighters from across Cambodia.
in the preparation stage, as I spent almost two months training," Keo
Bunheng told the Post Wednesday during a training session at Olympic
Hundreds of boxers have travelled from distant provinces to
crowd the stadium's hallways this week. Training rooms echo with the
sound of boxers preparing for the next day's fights.
everyone is happy with preparations, however. Ei Phouthang, head of the
Ei Phouthang Keila boxing club, said his fighters were not allowed to
participate in the competition because all positions were filled.
"I don't understand why they did not allow my team to compete," lamented the well-known former heavyweight kickboxer.
"We have many strong boxers and expected to win the championship," he said.
Sophon, 64, coach of the Phnom Touch Club from Banteay Meanchey
province, said the lack of food and proper training equipment would
make it hard for his boxers to win against better-equipped clubs from
"Wining or losing is part of sport," he said during a
training session with his 10 boxers. "But when we are in the ring,
hitting our opponent is what we have to do."
Ly Sethy, director of
the Department of Finance at the Ministry of Education, Youth and
Sports, said the ministry budgeted 340 million riels (US$85,000) for
"The annual expense for the competition was not
different," Ly Sethy told the Post. "Last year the event was not well
organised but this year we want to see more transparency."
Ly Sethy said boxers will compete for awards in 32 categories in the final stage of the championship.