ONE Championship has long provided an international platform for combat sport’s most brightly shining stars and continues to inspire generations of upcoming martial artist.
From the undefeated ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee to Thailand’s two-sport World Champion Stamp Fairtex, the women of ONE Championship have made an undeniable impact on the martial arts scene, and Cambodia is looking to follow.
In the last couple of months, Cambodia’s fastest rising stars Sovannahry “Sweet Savage” Em and Nou Srey Pov have made their way to the world’s largest martial arts organization in impressive fashion.
Em is currently riding an undefeated three-win bout-streak while Srey Pov made her mixed martial arts debut in February when she dominated Thai superstar Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige for three rounds.
Not only does the Cambodian women of martial arts have the full support of their country, but their fellow ONE Championship colleagues are also excited for what the future has to bring.
“I am thrilled,” Cambodian Top Team representative Ren Saroth states.
“We haven’t had many females MMA athletes before, and only recently we have been seeing more and more women show their love for the sport and trying out MMA.”
As a father, Saroth says he wouldn’t necessarily urge anyone to pick up combat sports as a career, but that he would fully support if his children would want to follow in his footsteps.
“If my daughter wants to train [martial arts], I will teach her myself,” he states.
Selapak gym leader and Kun Khmer specialist Chan Rothana agrees with Saroth.
”If there are more women involved in sports, it will be good for everyone,” he says.
Working daily as a pad holder and personal trainer at his gym in Phnom Penh, Rothana has also seen a rise in martial arts popularity in Cambodia.
”Not just women, but in general we’re seeing more people pick up [martial arts] and other sports,” he states.
“[Women] have the same rights as men. It’s not only men that can do sport and be strong, but girls can also be strong and do the same things as men.”
ONE Warrior Series star Emmanuel Onyedikachi has firsthand seen the positive impact that martial arts can do.
From living on the streets of Phnom Penh to being on the verge of ONE Championship stardom, the Nigerian powerhouse encourages girls to at least try it out.
“I am 100 % in support and advise girls that are considering [trying martial arts] to just go for it,” Emmanuel states.
“It is good for health, and mentally helps both men and woman to deal with real life stuff in this world of oblivious.”