If World Lethwei Championship fighter Phoe Thaw had adhered to his parents’ wishes, he would have been an engineer today.

Phoe Thaw’s parents encouraged him to pursue engineering and he followed that path all the way to university. He graduated with a degree in engineering from Dagon University, but did not want to apply that degree in his career. Instead, he spent five years working as a security guard in the Japanese embassy while trying out multiple businesses.

However, upon rediscovering his love for martial arts which he briefly practiced as a child, he gave all that up to chase his dream of becoming a champion. After trying karate as a child, it was football that he played competitively growing up.

However, he was never that interested in it. “When I went to football training, I was not really motivated and only did the minimum of what the coach asked and was very lazy. But martial arts is not like that. I am excited every time to go for training.”

He began training in martial arts again in 2015 and got thrown into the deep end, making his debut in ONE Championship with no amateur or professional experience and only 6 months of training.

Initially, he only did it for the experience and did not intend for it to be a career. He won that fight and his looks and fighting style appealed to the audience, who clamoured for more action from him.

“When I went to the fight, I didn’t expect any success or anything in the future, but the audience and the media embraced me. I was so surprised about all the interviews and attention and they created this desire in me to forge this career as a professional.”

Since then, he has gone on to win all four of his professional mixed martial arts fights while simultaneously fighting in Lethwei. While fighters in mixed martial arts generally start at a later age, Lethwei fighters usually begin fighting competitively as pubescents.  As a result, there were many critics who vocally derided the 32-year old’s attempt at a professional Lethwei career. Phoe Thaw refused to listen to them.

“Everyone said that I’m too old to train in Lethwei and it’s not possible. I didn’t accept that. It’s not a formula that you have to start during childhood. I see other examples where fighters that only start fighting at 36 years old and fight all the way to 40 plus years old. I am very confident in my abilities. Maybe I have five years more, maybe I have two years more, but I don’t care. I only care about putting on a show for the audience.”

After going undefeated in five professional Lethwei bouts in smaller shows, Phoe Thaw signed with World Lethwei Championship, the largest bareknuckle fighting organisation in the world. He has impressed, with two back-to-back knockout wins over tough foreign opposition this year, earning him a Light Middleweight World Lethwei Championship opportunity against a top local fighter, Thway Thit Win Hlaing, at WLC3: LEGENDARY CHAMPIONS on September 8. Thway Thit Win Hlaing is 10 years his junior but with significantly more experience with 60 fights compared to Phoe Thaw’s 9. However, Phoe Thaw is not deterred.

“I don’t care about his record. I only care about his weakness I know he is only human like everyone else. All I can do is control my own performance and one fight is only fifteen minutes. So I will leave everything in there for fifteen minutes.”

Contributor to this Story : Gerald Ng


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