Author: Antonio Graceffo

MMA in Malaysia, The Sport of a New Generation

The bell rings, and Malaysian national san da team member Raymond Tiew flies out of his corner, ready to do battle. His opponent, Kong Ravy, is a Khmer Bokator fighter, probably the first Cambodian to ever fight in Malaysia. Ravy throws a flying knee technique, better than any Tony Jaa movie, because it was real. The knee lands with enough force to knock Raymond out, but years of fight training have given the young Malaysian just enough instinct to slip about half the force of the blow. He is hurt, but he remains standing. Ravy delivers a shin kick...

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Vo Thai Lan in Saigon

My first experience training with a Vietnamese boxing and Muay Thai team didn’t work out very well. A bigger boy picked on me, and smashed my innards into jelly. After it didn’t hurt to pee or think anymore, I began looking for a new place to train. Luckily, my Vietnamese teacher found me a Muay Thai team right near my house in District 1. All over Hanoi and Saigon, I had noticed these multi-sport complexes, which I can only assume are sponsored by the government, offering a wide variety of activities, from ping pong to ballroom dancing, and every...

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Shan Refugees in Malaysia

For seven days, they were locked in a container, traveling in the back of a truck. With no idea where they were going, they may just as well have been sold into slavery or prostitution at the end. But their situation in Burma was so dire that even taking such a risk seemed worthwhile. In an anonymous housing block in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a Shan refugee, 29-year-old Hsai Yisep (not his real name) told me the story of his desperate escape from a dictatorial regime. (Most of this text is a transcription from a recorded interview I conducted with...

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