Cambodian Kun Khmer boxers earned five gold medals, a silver, and two bronze medals in separate Kun Khmer categories on Wednesday at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games 2023.
In the Elephant Hall at the Moradok Techo National Stadium on May 10, six Cambodian boxers reached the final round of competitions in Kun Khmer against other countries including Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia.
After defeating the Vietnamese, Mab Theara got a gold medal in the men’s 45kg, Phun Piseth earned a gold medal in the men’s 48kg, Kham KlaNeang got a gold medal in the men’s 51kg, and Lao Chetra won gold in the men’s 67kg. Also, Him Koemrieng received a gold medal in the men’s 54kg after defeating Laos.
Sam Samnang also won a silver medal in the women's 60kg after defeating the Vietnamese; Cha Chandeth won a bronze medal in the women's 45kg; and Ry Kanika won a bronze medal in the women's 45kg.
Theara said that after a year of training with the national team, his dream of winning a medal since he was young has become a reality and that he will work harder to win more medals for the country in the next tournament.
“I’m happy to get a gold medal as it’s been my dream since I was young,” he said. “This is my first time winning a medal at a major event, and it's also my first time competing in a major event.”
Piseth said that the competition was fierce since his opponent is quite powerful, however, he is overjoyed as he has won a gold medal at the SEA Games 2023 in his home country. He added that this is his first time participating in the Games.
“As it’s 64 years and only happened once [Cambodia hosting the SEA Games], I'm motivated to win,” he said. “I thank the government for organizing this tournament so that I can compete for a medal for my country. I'll attempt to train harder after that.”
He said that he has been training since 2016 and has competed in both national and international competitions. He added that this is his ninth medal, but it is larger than the previous ones.
Koemrieng expressed his delight at receiving a gold medal. He added that the medal means a lot to him and that he wants to dedicate it to his people, family, and generation.
"I didn't expect to win in the second round as he appears to have good skills. But he appeared to be afraid of me, so I had a chance to attack him,” he said. “I've been committed to working hard in order to earn a medal since joining the national team.”
He added that he would like to thank all of his supporters, family, the president of the federation, and the coaches who taught him how to succeed today.
Chetra said he is very happy to get a gold medal for his nation and the people of Cambodia. In addition, he would like to thank his supporters, family, wife, and especially his mom for their endless support.
“I'm speechless right now as I'm overjoyed. My family and country are the driving forces behind my desire to win the medal, and I want to represent my country on the international stage,” he said. “In the next competition, I will work harder to win the medal for my nation.”
The Kun Khmer tournament has drawn many supporters who shout support to their idols. Besides that, the Kun Khmer competitors receive support from their families, who come to watch them and cheer them on.
Yeon Yeap, the mother of gold medalist Chetra, said that she did not allow her son to compete previously as it is dangerous, however, she is now pleased with him for being able to earn a gold medal.
“I constantly support and wish for my son to win. The medal is significant since it will benefit Cambodia and improve its image,” she said. “I used to always tell him not to do that, but now I just let him do anything he wants as long as he likes it. Now, there are four members of my family training in Kun Khmer.”