This Friday, 6 September, the man from Ho Chi Minh City will make his ONE Championship debut in his hometown at the organization’s first-ever event in his country.
The 22-year-old may be new to ONE, but he has trained in martial arts since he was a child.
He began training a traditional Vietnamese martial art called Vovinam in school, and by the time he was 10, he decided it was his destiny to pursue a career as an athlete.
Thanh Tung decided that Muay Thai would be the art he focused on. Unfortunately, he could not count on the undivided support of his family, at first.
“I have loved martial arts ever since I was a kid, and when I heard of Muay Thai, my passion grew even stronger,” he says.
“However, only my father supported my decision, my mother and brother did not.”
Despite the doubts from some members of his family, the Vietnamese athlete was not discouraged. His training had taught him to be independent and persistent, so he was committed to achieving his dream.
That meant that he had to abandon his other goal of studying at university to focus on his career, but his success in the ring so far suggests he made the right choice.
His first big moment in “the art of eight limbs” came when his instructor from Ho Chi Minh City Muay Team asked him to compete in the Vietnam National Games.
Thanh Tung became one of the youngest men to ever win a national title as he showed off his aggressive style, which features spinning elbows and low kicks.
He almost repeated the feat in the 2017 IFMA Muay Thai World Championship in Belarus, but had to settle for a silver medal. However, falling just short of the top spot has only encouraged the featherweight athlete, and he has surged to a 10-3 record, with half of his victories via knockout.
His success attracted the attention of ONE Super Series matchmakers, who inserted him onto the historic ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH card and a stage unlike anything Thanh Tung has ever experienced.
His step up to the world’s largest martial arts organization is a massive achievement in a career that has already allowed this rising star to gain independence and make a living. In his youth, he could not afford school tuition, so he is determined to be a success among the world’s elite athletes, and has stepped up the intensity of his training.
“I want to prove that even though Vietnamese fighters have a smaller build, we can win against bigger fighters,” he adds.
“I’m so excited that every night I dream of facing my opponent in the ring. I feel very special to be fighting in ONE Championship for the first time.”
Thanh Tung has drawn a big test for his first assignment on the global stage. Rindh is a South Asian wushu champion with a strong competition record of 75-3, and dangerous high kicks that bring knockout potential.
The 21-year-old from Quetta is confident ahead of his first match outside his homeland, but the hometown hero believes he has the plan to spoil his ONE debut, and give his fans a reason to raise the roof of the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium.
“I will keep moving around, wait for the right opportunity, and counter. This is the style that represents Vietnam,” he says.
“I know that my opponent specializes in boxing and sanda. I have studied some of his matches, and I feel my opponent has some very good combinations. I must keep up the pace in order to control the match.
“My opponent doesn’t have very good knee strikes, so this is the weakness I will exploit. I think this match will end with a KO!”