The Cambodian-American female martial arts prospect Savannah Em is finally ready to make her ONE Championship debut, when the promotion hits Kuala Lumpur for its year-end finale. Em joined the championship in late 2017 but has yet to compete under the ONE banner after being sidelined due to injury in early 2018.
The aspiring professional martial artist from Long Beach, California, is an up and coming talent, showing promising strength, particularly in the striking department, with all of her wins coming by knockout.
ONE Championship is a Singapore-based mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, and grappling promotion which was launched in July 2011 by entrepreneur Chatri Sityodtong and former ESPN Star Sports senior executive Victor Cui.
According to Forbes, ONE Championship is Asia’s largest global sports media property, as well as the world’s largest martial arts organisation.
‘True martial arts values’
Em was introduced to martial arts in 2012 by her boyfriend, initially training in boxing and jiu-jitsu. Since then she has increased her wide array of skills to include wrestling, judo and pradal serey – a form of traditional Khmer kickboxing. With an aggressive striking style and fluid grappling techniques, Em reveals she is excited to compete for Asia’s top MMA organisation.
“The first thing that attracted me to ONE Championship has been the fact that its philosophy revolves around true martial arts values like respect, courage, and honour,” said Em.
“Personally, I view martial arts as a tool for self-perfection, so I don’t care for the trash-talking, and other behaviour that is encouraged in many other promotions. I love how ONE strives to promote a positive image of martial arts, rather than a violent sport.”
One of the biggest considerations for Em in joining ONE Championship is that the move will bring her closer to her Khmer roots.
Although Em spent her entire life in the United States, she reveals that she would love to visit the birthplace of her parents – both of whom are full-blooded Cambodian.
“I very much hope to have a chance to compete in the country of my parents and all my relatives. I’m sure it would also please my Pradal Serey teacher who was a champion before Cambodia entered a dark period of political turmoil,” said Em.
“I’ve had conversations with my family, friends, coaches, learning how they had endured those difficult times, and these people, even after going through such traumatic events, still remain to be some of the sweetest humans I know. But they have told me stories, not just of hardship, but also the beauty of what the culture was and remains to be. It’s an honour to represent that kind of strength and courage. I am excited to discover my roots.”
Em will be joining a very talented group of women currently competing under the ONE Championship banner. Led by arguably Asia’s biggest superstar in ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, Em is a welcome addition with a considerable amount of mass appeal and star power, and one that should shake up the competition landscape with her impressive pedigree so far in her young career.
“The lady warriors in ONE are excellent. Angela [Lee] is simply phenomenal, but there are plenty of others who are quite impressive. I look forward to joining their ranks,” Em said.