The 30-year-old Team Tieu representative is set to face Malaysia’s Mohamad Fakri Bin Yusoff in a ONE Super Seires featherweight Muay Thai match-up at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium next Friday, 6 September.
The contest will be Pham’s first in the world’s largest martial arts organization, and he cannot wait to put on a show for the local fans.
Ahead of his big moment, “The Beast From The East” reveals how his family connection to Muay Thai gave him confidence and led him to the global stage for martial arts.
An Uninspired Youth
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Pham was born in London, England to Vietnamese parents who fled the war that raged in their home nation for 20 years.
His mother hails from Hanoi, and his father from Ho Chi Minh City, but they found refuge in the English capital.
“They came to England to escape the war and to start a better life,” he explains.
“One of my aunties got in to Canada, but the rest of my family were not allowed, so they came here. I’ve got a lot of family around London, and the other half stayed in Vietnam, and are still there.”
His parents got jobs working in a sewing factory, and raised Pham and his three older sisters in Tottenham, North London, where “The Beast From The East” admits he struggled to find much of a purpose in his life.
“I wasn’t good at anything growing up, all I liked was computer games,” he recalls.
“I was never into sports or anything like that, and I was not very academic either. I just always wanted to get home and play on my computer.”
Beating The Bullies
The turning point was when he suffered at the hands of bullies in his teens, and it was a relative that steered him into the gym.
“I started training jeet kune do because I used to get bullied a bit when I was younger,” he reveals.
“The other kids would try to rob me and things like that. I was always getting mugged. I used to call my cousin when I had a problem with them, and he would come and sort it out.
“It was good having someone to call, but I used to call him quite a lot! He said that I needed to learn how to protect myself because he wouldn’t be able to protect me all my life.”
The man that came to the youngster’s aide is now his head coach, Philip Tieu, but he had trouble convincing his relative to learn martial arts as a form of self-defense at first.
However, after he gave Pham his first basic lessons about how to punch and kick outside his aunt’s house, he convinced him to go to the gym once a week, and his interest grew from there.
“I was never interested in martial arts until I knew I had to protect myself,” Pham continues.
“I knew I had to learn and train to get some confidence in myself. Two of my other cousins were there too, and they motivated me, and when I improved, we all pushed each other to get better. It was a family thing.”
Finding His Passion
For the first time in his life, the quiet gamer was enthused by a physical activity, and he soon got serious about his training.
“What made me want to take it to the next level was just that feeling you get after you train,” he adds.
“I got addicted to the feeling – it makes you feel good. It is like a natural high, so I wanted to train every day.”
At 18, he began his Muay Thai career, and despite being nervous before he stepped through the ropes for his first match, he got his hand raised and has never looked back.
Competition helped to transform him physically and mentally, and put him on the path toward success at a high level.
“When I won that first fight, I felt really good – the attention on you and the reward after the fight, I was buzzing,” he offers.
“I just knew I wanted to do it again. Plus, the respect everyone gives you is nice. It made me think I could make something out of myself. It felt good to finally find a passion in my life.”
Becoming A Success
With motivation came success. The Londoner put all his effort into his training and reaped the rewards in the ring.
He won ISKA, WKA, and MTGP European Titles on some of the biggest stages on the continent, and now he has earned the step up to The Home Of Martial Arts.
“I was so happy when I got the call for ONE. It seemed like everything I’d worked towards for the last 12 years was starting to pay off,” he says.
“I’ve been watching the shows, and I think it’s going to be a good test for me. They’ve got the best in the world in ONE Championship.”
It is an extra bonus to go and perform in front of his people in Vietnam, and Pham does not want to let that opportunity go to waste.
He plans to go out and give it his all at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium, and start his rise up the ranks among the best athletes on the planet.
“I’ve been to Vietnam a lot to see my family, but to go and compete is an honor for me,” says “The Beast From The East.”
“I don’t know if I will get the chance to do it again, so I’ve got to try and make my country proud of me.”
Ho Chi Minh City | 6 September | 5.30PM | ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneimmortal19