Vietnamese women’s boxing continues to punch above its weight, with an impressive showing at the recent Asian Women’s Amateur Boxing Championship last month in Ho Chi Minh City.
The event featured 10 categories for athletes ranging from U48kg to over-81kg, with athletes like Luu Thi Duyen in the 60kg and Le Thi Bang at 54kg making impressive showings.
Both were medalists at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Nguyen Thi Tam made Vietnamese boxing history after bringing home the gold medal at the event, defeating Pang Chol-mi of North Korea in the women’s 51kg division.
It was the first time a Vietnamese female boxer has won a gold medal in the Asian event. Apart from Tam’s gold medal, the host nation claimed four more silver medals thanks to Duyen and Bang, Nguyen Thi Huong at 81kg, and Tran Thi Oanh Nhi at over 81kg.
The event drew 107 boxers from 22 countries and territories, competing in all 10 categories.
Duyen, who won gold at the most recent SEA Games in Malaysia this summer, sees the sport on the upswing among women in Vietnam. Fighting disciplines as a whole are becoming more popular in places like Ho Chi Minh City, with the newly opened UFC gym in District 2 as well as octagon training at certain California Fitness locations. Kickboxing and Muay Thai-styled classes are also surging in popularity.
But for Duyen, nothing compares to the sweet science of boxing.
“I started practicing at age 14 and now it’s been 10 years,” she says. “I love boxing. Boxing does not have a limit for me.”
Boxing is no longer saddled with the view of being a savage bloodsport, but in fact a strong discipline for health-minded individuals who don’t necessarily need to fight to enjoy its fitness benefits. This may be what has made inroads among Vietnamese women, looking to diversify their fitness routines. These include elements like: Fat burning; increased muscle tone; stronger bones and ligaments; increased cardiovascular fitness; better strength; and the immediate stress relief of going a few rounds with the heavy bag, or a live opponent.
“My goal in the future will be many championships,” says Duyen. “And I will teach what I have learned for everyone in the future.”
PHOTOS BY BAO ZOAN