Publisher: Doppelhouse Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
When I was 6 years old, my grandmother told me, "The rice won't bear grain if it stands tall, but it will if it bows." I have always followed her advice: "Be calm, be kind, be brave." To this day, because of my grandmother, I am not afraid of anybody. Oum Ry (b.1944) grew up on a Central Cambodian island in the MeKong River in a family of silver engravers. When his family couldn't afford his food or schooling, he lived with monks until seeking out masters of Cambodian kickboxing, a martial art called Pradal Serey. He was the smallest kid but would become national champion at 23 years old. Over 15 years, he toured Southeast Asia and without ever suffering a knock-out won more than 250 fights. After a young man's dream-life of stardom, parties, and girls, his new wife gave birth to a child in 1975, two months before the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh and pushed the country into an abyss of mass executions, disease, and famine. Oum Ry survived the genocide though much of his family perished. He was saved many times from death in Cambodia due to fame, talent, and his resilience, but suffered a life-threatening attack during Southern California's epic gang violence of the 1990s. Earlier, as a refugee in Chicago, Oum Ry worked cleaning hotels, knowing no English. Within a few years, he had an investor and opened one of the first kickboxing gyms in the United States, and was raising a daughter, Zochada, who took her first steps in the ring. This book is his oral history and includes a historical introduction, maps, photos, and an illustrated section explaining Pradal Serey fighting techniques, some of which Oum Ry developed or invented.