The Khmer Fighters. Photography: ©Omar Havana

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SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. A spectator gives some dollars to one of the fighters after he won his fight in the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia. Cambodians boxers were traditionally paid by the crowd: if the crowd appreciated the boxer’s efforts, they would reward him with alcohol, food or cash. This practice still continues today but, in line with western practice, bouts pay official fees. A new Cambodian boxer can earn US$25 per fight. More experienced kick boxers with more than a dozen fights can earn up to $75. "Brand name" kickboxers can earn over $100 a fight. Special purse fights will pay up to $250 with the purse contributed by a corporate sponsor. Pradal Serey or Kun Khmer -free fighting- is an unarmed martial art from Cambodia. Compared to other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer emphasises more elusive and shifty fighting stances. The Cambodian style tends to utilise more elbows than that of other regions. Evidence shows that a style resembling pradal serey existed in the 9th century, leading the Khmer to believe all Southeast Asian forms of kickboxing started with the early Mon-Khmer people. They maintain that Pradal Serey has influenced much of the basis of Muay Thai. During the Khmer Rouge genocide, traditional martial arts were banned and many boxers were executed or worked to death, which nearly caused the death of pradal serey. Nowadays, Kun Khmer is making a strong comeback in Cambodia, with fighters attempting to market their style of boxing at the same caliber of Muay Thai. Photography: ©Omar Havana
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. A spectator gives some dollars to one of the fighters after he won his fight in the new Siem Reap arena in Cambodia. Cambodians boxers were traditionally paid by the crowd: if the crowd appreciated the boxer’s efforts, they would reward him with alcohol, food or cash. This practice still continues today but, in line with western practice, bouts pay official fees. A new Cambodian boxer can earn US$25 per fight. More experienced kick boxers with more than a dozen...
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