Cambodian kickboxing enthusiasts were on display at the recent Water Festival in Lowell, Mass.
The crowds were supportive of the exhibition match underdogs, cheering them even when they fell, and silent when one boxer made contact with another—a change from your typical match.
The exhibition was part of the annual Water Festival, which also included performances of traditional dance and music, as well as rap and hip hop.
In the US, kickboxing is undertaken more for exercise than for sport, with enthusiasts taking on the martial art to keep in shape. Some said they did it to keep Cambodian tradition alive.
“I’m learning kickboxing so I can be strong,” said a young trainee named Britney, who started training five months ago and performed an on-stage exhibition at the festival and whose father, Nuon Sorya, is a famous Cambodian kickboxer.
Britney’s partner, Enixia, said she wanted to learn to protect herself.
Nuon Sorya said he had come to Lowell, home to some 40,000 Cambodians, about a year ago, but he still has only about 10 students per day.
“It’s not enough,” he said. “I have too few students. Our center just started, so I can’t make a living from it. But I have some hope for next year.”
This show case of Safe Kickboxing was part of several performances which share the same stage in turn, such as South East Asian traditional dance, contemporary musics and rap and hip hop.