Rising flyweight talent Sovannahry Em made a near-impeccable ONE Championship debut in early December.
She kicked off ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a stunning knockout of mixed martial arts veteran Iryna “Delsa” Kyselova.
Undefeated with three first-round victories, the 26-year-old Cambodian-American is looking to keep her momentum going — even outside of the ONE cage.
In late 2017, Em linked up with retired mixed martial artist Yves Edwards and author Brooke James, who were working on a children’s book.
After supplying them with her illustrations, they teamed up to work on The Talent Quest, a book that is now widely available in stores and online.
“They liked my illustrations and thought it fit perfectly with what they wanted to do,” she explains.
“It’s about these little animal characters that train various styles of martial arts.
“We want to break that negative stigma that parents might have with putting their kids in martial arts training, and show them that martial arts is actually very good for kids, [especially] for building character and confidence.”
Martial arts can provide valuable life lessons
Following five distinct characters including Teddy the Brown Bear, Saaja the Tiger, Dozer the Bulldog, Bella the Monkey, and Gregor the Wrestling Bear, Em hopes The Talent Quest will inspire young children and their parents to start practicing martial arts from an early age.
“[The Talent Quest] can teach basic life lessons that are important for kids as they are growing up,” she adds.
The Cambodian-American has been outspoken about her own journey and how martial arts has helped her overcome shyness and anxiety.
Together with Edwards and James, Em is now determined to share the valuable life lessons that they have picked up as devoted martial artists.
“A lot of times, martial arts has a bad [reputation],” she says. “Sometimes, parents think it’s violent or that kids might become bullies, [but it is the opposite].”
The Talent Quest is already getting a good response
The Talent Quest is intended to be the first of a series of books about Teddy, Saaja, Dozer, Bella, and Gregor.
The project took a little bit longer than expected, but the team is already pondering their next step, even as they enjoy The Talent Quest’s worldwide release.
“Brooke sent me some pictures of drawings that kids in Australia have done of the characters! I was like, ‘Oh my god,'” Em shares.
“It’s just amazing that my work is reaching kids and that they like it so much that they want to draw some of their favorite characters already.”
With a thriving mixed martial arts career in ONE and a newly-released children’s book, Em is looking at an exciting 2019 where she aims to compete at least three times in the cage and make her way up the flyweight ranks.
Being a real-life superhero of her own, the Cambodian-American is back in training mode and feels ready to take on any challenges, whether it be with gloves or with a pencil in her hand.
“I have finally been getting back to training regularly,” she says.
“We’re gonna let [The Talent Quest] go for a little while, and then we will probably be discussing the following book.