One of the leading practitioners of Cambodia’s national striking art of Kun Khmer is set to showcase his abilities in ONE Super Series.
Soy Thy’s Kun Khmer record reads at a staggering 221-36-12, and he’ll put his skills to the test against Muay Thai world champion Lerdsila Phuket Top Team at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau on Saturday, 23 June.
The 20-year-old Cambodian arrives in ONE Championship with a wealth of experience, but remains an unknown quantity across much of the global world of martial arts. That may soon be about to change.
Raised in a north-western province of Cambodia called Banteay Meanchey, which sits on the border of Thailand, Thy lived with his family on a farm, but his parents soon changed jobs to help bring in more money to raise their two sons.
“My family were normal farmers at first, but then they turned to hard manual labour at construction sites around Cambodia and Thailand. I helped my parents when they needed,” he says.
“My motivation was, and still is, to give my family a better life. It is my duty as a son.”
Like so many ONE Championship stars, Thy’s journey into martial arts came as a response to being bullied at school.
“I was always smaller than the other kids,” Thy explains.
“They made fun of my head being bigger than my body. I would cry all the time, and go and hide in the farmland.”
But there was an outlet for Thy that helped him through his troubles – Kun Khmer. His father enjoyed the sport, and Thy’s home province happened to be a hotbed for the discipline.
“Coming from Banteay Meanchey, which is known for some of the best Khmer fighters from past to present, it was already in my blood,” he explains.
“My best memory was spending time training with my father and my brother.
“I had to overcome bigger and stronger kids picking on me because I was always scared, but martial arts helped me build confidence.”
It also helped Thy embark on a career as a professional athlete. The 20-year-old star trains out of Cambodian Top Team in Phnom Penh and has a plethora of Kun Khmer titles to his name.
He also became the first Cambodian to compete for Muay Thai world titles at Lumpinee Stadium and Channel 7 Boxing Stadium.
His prior experience in Muay Thai will be crucial when he debuts in ONE Championship to take on multi-time Muay Thai world champion Lerdsila (186-31-5) in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai bout on 23 June.
“He is a legend, and I am honoured to share the ring with him,” Thy says, respectfully.
“I think it will be a great fight, and the fans will see the purest form of striking arts.
“We are so happy that ONE is having striking-only bouts. We said this is our time to show what we [Cambodians] can really do now.”