The much-hyped Wurkz Sena Kun Khmer event on November 5 drew record crowds and was surely one of the largest sporting events the Kingdom has seen since the 32nd SEA Games.

The Town Arena, located in the vicinity of Chip Mong Megamall 271 in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, saw a multitude of Kun Khmer exponents claim hard-won victories over their much-vaunted foreign opponents during the undercard. However, the main event drew some misguided criticism, according to one fight insider.

Local heroes Chhut Serey Vanthong, Phal Sophoan, Roeung Sophoan, Thoeun Theara and Bird Sangkhum all dominated their rivals, earning praise from the public for demonstrating the greatness and power of the Kingdom’s unique martial art.

However, the widely promoted headline matchup between Kun Khmer legend Prum Samnang and Myanmar-Canadian Lethwei exponent Dave Leduc – conducted under the Mas Fight format – culminated in a draw, despite several knockdowns and both fighters receiving cuts. This led to accusations from some members of the public that the match may have been a show, or staged in some way.

What some critics failed to understand is that under the terms of the Mas format, victory is only possible if the opponent is unable to continue by the end of a single nine-minute round, generally through a knockout. As both combatants displayed heart and remained standing when the none-minute bell rang, match officials had no choice but to award a draw.

After hearing some of the criticism of social media users, Town Arena adviser Tommy Kim – who represents the Mas Fight Cambodia Programme – felt compelled to clear the air and explain that people had not witnessed a show, but an incredible display of bravery and heart.

“All the boxers on the night fought for Kun Khmer and are true Khmer heroes, Samnang was not afraid to show that Kun Khmer fears nothing, no matter how it is fought,” he said.

“Leduc proposed that the fight take place in raw thread wraps as a way of demonstrating the timelessness of Kun Khmer and Lethwei. Both martial arts have thousands of years of history and since ancient times, Lethwei has been fought without gloves. Samnang showed true heart to accept the late terms,” he added.