The Cambodia Interclub Foundation and Chuon Somnang Kun Khmer hosted “Cambodia Interclub 8” at Factory Phnom Penh on June 8, featuring 11 bouts and drawing a wide range of spectators. While Cambodia's centuries-old passion for its rich martial arts heritage is well-known, many of the Kingdom's expatriates were also drawn to test themselves in the ring. The event featured a mix of boxing and Kun Khmer styles, with 13 nationalities contending, including a mix of Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, Philippine, Australian, British, Irish, Scottish, German, Russian, French, South African and Czech.Each bout consisted of three two-minute rounds for the boxing matches, while Kun Khmer skirmishes were slightly longer, with three three-minute rounds. “Representing gyms in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, the competitors ranged in ability with a mixture of first timers and highly skilled artists,” stated a press release from the event posted on the evening on June 10. According to the release, 22 foreign and local fighters took to the ring to test their mettle “Competitors ranged drastically in age and weight from 16 to 62 years, and 45 to 125kg,” it added. The night’s first match up, a Kun Khmer featherweight bout, saw Ireland’s Nathan Joyce – who lost to Cambodian designer Sithy Vong just last month – tromp his Russian opponent Aleksei Poliakh, from Vietnam’s Rooster Muay Thai, with a dazzling display of footwork and well-placed punches. Another highlight of the night was the 70kg welterweight boxing showdown between Australian Robert Walters, 61, representing Angkor Sakset, and the US’ Robert Starkweather, for Villa, in the latter’s debut fight. Starkweather initially trained in Kun Khmer but after an injury turned to western boxing. It didn’t show as he defeated Walters in a third-round decision. In the fourth match of the evening, Philippine Villa fighter Rommel Triggue beat Erwin Nguyen from Vietnam’s Integrated Martial Arts club. In the fifth, the only catchweight fight of the game – meaning the boxers do not need to weigh the same – South African Mario Potgieter (77kg), fighting for Villa, overcame French-Cambodian In Christian (83kg), of The Ring. Other matches included pro female Kum Khmer fighters Phanith Van Lida, from Sovankomma gym, and Luy Srey Ny for Universe 8K Kun Khmer, with Srey Ny securing a technical knockout (TKO) victory with a well-timed strike in the first round. Cambodian Em Vannit, an independent fighter, lost to fellow countryman Heang Bunnarith, from Spartans, in a 60kg featherweight boxing match. Mauritian-German Ferris Dal Gravve beat Czech Tomas Pokorny of Kingdom Fight Gym in the 73kg welterweight category. Lightweights Theor Franiatte (Cambodia-France) and Taylor West (UK), from Manu Selapak Academy, battled it out with the decision going to Franiatte. The event saw only one draw, during a friendly grudge match in the featherweight 63kg Kun Khmer category, when Cambodian-French Benjamin Heilpern (Villa) found himself evenly matched with Cambodian Peter Chay from The Ring. The last fight of the night was a whopper, with a super heavyweight Kun Khmer match between journalist Nathan Southern, from Scotland, and marketing executive Kevin Vawn, from Cambodia, weighing in at 125kg each. After three rounds, Southern was given the decision. According to Interclub, the group has three aims: to create an amateur martial arts scene in Cambodia; to support, establish and develop existing Kun Khmer gyms in the country; and to put Cambodia on the map as a destination for martial arts training in Asia. The group will hold a big-screen watch party at Villa Martial Arts Gym & Guesthouse to review the fights on June 12 at 8pm, open to the public, for final votes and announcements for “Fight of the Night” and “Fighter of the Night”.