Nou Sreypov: From garment worker to national martial arts superstar

Just a decade ago, Nou Sreypov was just one of the close to one million Cambodian women toiling away for long hours at a garment factory.

But, for determination to succeed in life saw her taking a different path, after just a year in one of the many factories situated in Phnom Penh.

Sreypov decision to take up the martial arts of Kun Khmer seriously has not only changed her entire life but has also installed her as one of Cambodia’s superstars in the sport.

The 27-year old comes from a family of fighters and followed in their footsteps by taking up Kun Khmer.

Sreypov had her first bout at the age of 13, progressing to become Cambodia’s leading female Kun Khmer fighter with close to 100 wins to her name.

Her prowess in the ring had made her a household name in Cambodia.

Her Kun Khmer experience and foundation has brought her to another chapter in her flourishing martial arts career.

Sreypov has now been named in the Cambodian kick boxing squad for the 31st South East Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam, where she will compete in the 52kg category.

Prior to her kick boxing debut at the SEA Games, she will compete at the Angkor King Fight in Siem Reap, where she will face the might of China’s Li Li Shan in the kick boxing competition on April 10.

“I’m very thrilled to get a chance to fight in this big event,” said Sreypov. 

“This event will be my warm-up fight ahead of SEA Games in Vietnam. It will be a great opportunity for me. I expect it to be a tough challenge as my opponent is very strong. But it will be a good experience for me.”

While she is making her debut in the kick-boxing competition at the SEA Games, it would not be her first taste of action at the multi-sport Games.

Three years ago, she competed in the boxing competition at the Manila SEA Games. She won a bronze in Manila in the women’s flyweight (51kg). She defeated Myanmar’s Nelly 5-0 in the quarter-finals but was stopped by eventual champion Nguyen Thi Tham of Vietnam in the semi-finals.

Sreypov’s talents does not stop at Kun Khmer, kickboxing and boxing alone, as she is also a mixed martial arts (MMA) exponent, She has a record of one win and two losses in the prestigious ONE Championships.

Sreypov in action at the ONE Championships (Photo ONE Championships)

Sreypov made her One Championship debut in 2019 by defeating Thai superstar Rika Ishige in Bangkok. The World Lethwei Championship had also named her “Female Fighter of the Year” in 2018. She also won the Kun Khmer Championship that year.

With her wide range of experience, Sreypov believes she could adapt well to kick boxing and aims to win another SEA Games medal for Cambodia, this time in kickboxing.

“I have trained in kick boxing for over a year, so I’m used to it now. I feel comfortable with kick boxing because it’s not too different from boxing or Kun Khmer. I’m very proud to represent my country in the SEA Games. I will do my best to bring home a SEA Games medal for the nation, said Sreypov.

by Sophak Huy

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