Cambodia wins medals for first time in Asian boxing competition


Cambodia made history over the weekend by winning its first medals in one of the most prestigious boxing competitions in Asia. 

The Cambodia Boxing Federation (CBF) reported that the Kingdom’s boxers won a couple of medals in the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) Asian U-22 Boxing Championship.

According to Facebook posts from the CBF and National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), Rajapov Abdullah, a Cambodian-Uzbek boxer, and local standout Pen Vanthong registered a silver and a bronze medal, respectively, in the tournament, which was held in the Thai capital city of Bangkok from January 17 to 26. 

It was Cambodia’s first medals in the tournament.

The competition drew some of the top boxers from 21 nations, including powerhouse ones like Uzbekistan, Thailand, Kazakhstan and China.

Kuwait, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Vietnam, Iraq Singapore, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia and Mongolia were also represented in the annual tournament.

 “There were a total of 243 high-level participants,” the NOCC reported. 

The CBF’s delegation to Thailand included six coaches and players, one of whom was a female boxer. 

Expectations were high that Abdullah will bring a gold medal to Cambodia. But those expectations were quashed when he lost by a single point, 10-9, to Tokhirov Nusratbek of Uzbekistan in the 92-kg class. 

It was a painful loss for Cambodia, where boxing is one of the most popular sports, together with football and martial arts. 

Abdullah outpointed an opponent from Kazakhstan in the semis, but got injured in the process, limiting his ability to defeat Nusratbek in the finals. 

Vanthong did not reach that far, but still gave his opponent ‘the scare of his life’, losing to Serik Abzal of Kazakhstan in the 67-kg category.

“Our boxers are comparable to that of Thailand skill and ability-wise,” National Coach Chey Nara said. “This is good news for all of us.”

Thailand placed third overall, grabbing for itself three golds, four silvers and two bronzes. 

“We are very happy and proud of their achievements. This is the first time for us to win medals in the tournament. It never happened before,” he added. “Hopefully, this would not be the last.”

High expectations for the 2023 SEA Games

Nara expressed optimism that this will translate to more success in the upcoming SEA Games.

Cambodia, the upcoming host, has high hopes for its boxers. The CBF is eager to surpass its tally from the two previous SEA Games, which are eight bronze medals and one silver medal combined for the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games and 2019 Philippines SEA Games. 

“We are expecting more medals in the SEA Games,” he said. “We are now more confident than ever.”

Uzbekistani sluggers out-boxed their storied opponents enroute to 21 medals (14 golds, four silvers and three bronzes), and a first-place finish in the tournament.

Kazakhstan, which is helping train Cambodian boxers, grabbed the second place with a 20-medal count that included five golds, three silvers and a couple dozens of bronze.

This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.


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