Newly appointed Khmer Boxing Federation president Lieutenant General Khov Chhay has announced that as long as he remains in the post, well-known Lethwei exponent Dave Leduc will not be allowed to compete in Cambodia.

Chhay was elected by the federation’s executive committee on March 29, replacing former president Tem Moeun.

Chhay said the decision was in response to a social media post by the champion of the Myanmar style of boxing, who wrote, “I need $1 million if you want me to fight again. I will knock out Muay Thai fighters because I think Muay Thai copied Khmer martial arts. I want to fight once more, but only against Muay Thai fighters.”

The federation president told local media during a June 9 interview that he had read and watched Leduc's statements and did not support them. He regarded Leduc’s demand for large sums of money to fight in Cambodia as a selfish act for personal gain rather than for the promotion of Khmer boxing.

Regarding Leduc’s desire to fight and defeat only Muay Thai fighters, Chhay said, “Dave Leduc talks about the issues between Khmer martial arts and Muay Thai. As a federation, we do not want to create divisions or provoke racial discrimination because such actions lead to antagonism. We are a peaceful country and do not need actions that provoke hatred and lead to conflict.”

Chhay also recalled the Mas Fight event on November 5, 2023, between Prum Samnang and Leduc, which was considered the biggest historical boxing event between Kun Khmer martial arts and Myanmar’s Lethwei. Chhay claimed that Leduc had agreed to fight with gloves but demanded to fight with wraps at the last minute, causing almost an hour's delay in the event.

“We had to force [Samnang] to fight according to Leduc’s demands, otherwise, the entire event would have been ruined. We have seen that this fighter is very manipulative, so as long as I remain the president of the federation, [he] will not be allowed to fight in Cambodia! If he wants to fight in Cambodia, he will have to wait until I step down as president of the Khmer Boxing Federation,” he said.

Despite the controversy, Leduc, who has relocated to Cambodia and opened a café named DAV House in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, has denied Chhay’s allegations, calling them unprofessional and lacking in respect compared to former federation president Morn.

“I think the new guy [Chhay] is trying to gain fame by using my name. Congratulations, it's working. If you’re a real man, talk to me and discuss the issues.But he decided to talk to the press and spread this on social media, damaging my reputation with false stories,” Leduc stated in a June 10 social media post.

“I love Cambodia. I live in Phnom Penh with my family, and my one-month-old child was born here. I have invested here, created jobs for many employeesand helped many families, including veterans. I have started a business here, and those who follow me know that I promote Khmer boxing almost daily on social media,” he added.

Nevertheless, Chhay maintained his stance against allowing Leduc to fight in Cambodia due to past issues and urged the Khmer people, especially boxing supporters, to stop focusing on Leduc.

“Dave Leduc is not our idol and not someone we should admire because he is not honest,” Chhay said.