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Paddy: Boxing for Cambodia

By: Adam Fogarty Posted: August-05-2008 in
Adam Fogarty

Growing up in apartheid South Africa, Paddy learned to fight at a young age. "I started bare-knuckle boxing over thirty years ago," the friendly and formidable Durbanite says. "Also, I'm a black belt (sixth dan) in karate. I've always been in the fight game all my life."

It shows. Before coming to Cambodia almost nine years ago, Paddy was president of the South African arm of the International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA) and was the biggest kickboxing promoter in South Africa. He represented five world-kickboxing champions in that country, and one of his daughters (he has two) holds two South African national titles. Following in her father's footsteps, Paddy's youngest daughter also holds an ISKA championship title.

Firmly entrenched in Cambodia, Paddy's focus is now on kickboxing, which refers to the sport of using martial arts-style kicks and boxing-style punches to defeat an opponent in a similar way to that of English boxing.

In Paddy's opinion, the best kickboxers are from Holland, South Korea, Brazil and South Africa. Though he is quick to add that in terms of their height and weight the "south-east Asian fighters, especially the Cambodians and Thais, are very good for their size".

Pradal serey (Khmer for kickboxing) is widely popular in Cambodia and is recognized as a legitimate avenue for disaffected youths to channel their energies positively. "I love Cambodia and I love the people. I support the underprivileged," Paddy says. By providing gloves and mouth guards and free training to the young boxers, Paddy offers an alternative for the next generation of Cambodian boxers. "I do a lot for the youth. I want to uplift boxing uplift Cambodia."

Fortunately Paddy, is not alone in his efforts to promote kickboxing in the country; commercial sponsors are providing much of the financial impetus. "On 22nd August, we have a tournament at Olympic Indoor Stadium," informs Paddy. "I'm negotiating with the international ISKA to hold three world-title fights in Phnom Penh. Our major sponsor is Indochine Resources (the Australian mining group). We also work in conjunction with CTN and TV5 (both local television stations) and the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation."

"Of all the styles of fighting, English boxing is still the most popular," he says mentioning Oscar De La Hoya as an example of a boxer whose fighting success has inspired many. One of English boxing's biggest earners, De La Hoya commands more than $8 million per fight. "For the money, English boxing is still number one. My dream is to create a [Cambodian] world champion English boxer."

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