ONE Championship athlete and Kun Khmer veteran Chan Rothana brought down the house when he returned to MMA at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS on the 7th of December, scoring a thunderous second-round knockout over previously undefeated Abro Fernandes.
Chan Rothana trains the future of Cambodia
Although he competed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 32-year-old Cambodian was not only accompanied by his Selapak team, but he also had the full support of his devoted fans back home in Phnom Penh.
One of those fans is 12-year-old Sok San.
The youngster has been doing martial arts ever since the age of 8, and for the past three years, he has been training at Rothana’s gym.
“I was riding around with my parents when I saw [Rothana’s] club,” San says.
“I went there to ask if they taught martial arts and to get some more information. After that, I asked my father if I could start training, and he encouraged me.”
San now trains at Selapak five times a week.
Under Rothana’s guidance, he has improved his martial art skills significantly, and the training has also had a notable effect on his health.
“I have asthma, and whenever I start coughing, I get out of breath,” San explains.
“Because I get sick a lot, my dad has been persuading me to do more sports, since it helps me out with my health.”
In addition to that, he has developed self-defense skills and a new sense of self-confidence.
Like many children, San has been a victim of bullying. By training with Rothana, he has been given the tools to defend himself, but most importantly, his morale is at an all-time high.
“At school, some boys used to make fun of me. I usually never said anything back. I just walked away,” San says. “Now, they don’t dare to [bully me]. I’m not afraid anymore.”
To be able to be trained by such a prominent figure in Khmer martial arts has inspired San.
Now, the young Cambodian is thinking about following in the footsteps of his idol, as well as pursuing a career as an architect.
Fortunately, it is a hard choice he does not have to make at the moment.
Instead, he now enjoys both studying and going to Selapak with his older brother as often as possible. Training with the world-class athlete has become a treasured part of his life.
“I have a lot of fun training with him,” San says about his idol Rothana. “He’s very friendly, and he’s really good at kicking and boxing.”
San encourages everyone to try a martial arts class and see if they can benefit from it as much as he has.
Also, he sees ONE Championship and martial arts as a way for more people to acknowledge “The Kingdom of Wonder.”
“When more people know about the sport, more people will also compete internationally,” he adds. “That way, more people will know about Cambodia.”