Vietnamese-American mixed martial artist Thanh Le has enjoyed an exceptional start to his ONE Championship career. And after three consecutive victories – all by highlight-reel knockout – he has found himself on the cusp of superstardom.
It will be an incredible moment for the Vietnamese-American, but he did not get here alone. His wife, Collying, has stood beside him throughout this journey.
“I feel like no other person would give me that support, stability, and structure that I need to keep me in check, keep me in line, hug me when I’m down, cry with me when I need to, and pick me up when I’m hurting,” the 35-year-old says. “It’s a for-real love story.”
In fact, this is a love story that began years before they became an official couple.
While working at a Verizon Wireless store, the featherweight contender assisted Collying in upgrading her phone. Years later, Le would hire her, and the two developed a friendship before blossoming into soulmates.
As their bond deepened, mutual sacrifices were needed so that each could achieve their respective goals. Le is steadfast that the equal partnership had been ingrained within him after watching his parents draw the blueprint for a successful relationship.
“I grew up in a family where my dad worked long, long days at a construction plant and taught martial arts at night. And they did the same thing before I was born,” he says.
“My dad was having trouble getting a steady job, and my mom worked two jobs waiting tables and anything to get by and pay the bills.
“She supported him through times where he needed help, and they built their relationship that way and a partnership that way. That’s an important piece and an example for me.
“Mine is a similar story where when you need help, you have that counterpart in the world that is meant to be with you and support you through that time and vice versa.”
Le worked and supported his wife as she went to nursing school and completed her degree. He then quit his job and moved to Virginia to pursue his passion of becoming a better martial artist.
“We didn’t have a ton of income at the time, so we took turns taking care of each other and making sure we could accomplish our goals. She packed up her life and packed up everything she had, and we moved up there together,” the 50/50 and MidCity MMA representative says.
The sacrifices have paid off, as Le is on the precipice of a ONE World Championship. Now living in Louisiana, the couple is happier than ever and writing their next chapters together.
“We’re always having fun,” the Vietnamese-American star says.
“There’s countless times where I remember us just sitting in bed, and I can’t breathe because I’m laughing so hard. I’m always messing with her; she’s always messing around and making jokes and making fun of me. That’s part of how we are.
“If you can’t handle the stressful parts, that’s where things fall apart. All kinds of things cause tension in a relationship, but you [need a way to] release the pressure. We do it with comedy. You got to have that.”
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And the stress of being new parents is just around the corner.
The happy couple is now expecting a baby girl. The budding contender said he might have to turn to ONE’s global fan base for advice and tips on having a daughter.
“[My wife is] 17 weeks along and ready to pop out our little girl. I’m super excited,” Le gushes.
“We’re going through all the normal pregnancy deals: the ultrasounds, finding out the gender, looking at car seats, and how to decorate the room. I’m super excited and scared at the same time.
“I’ve had my son, and I’d do anything for him and love him more than anything on the planet. That’s my boy. And now we got this different species coming. I’m going to turn into a girl dad, and I have no idea what to do,” he adds with a chuckle.
While Le may not know exactly what to do, he has the assurance that his other half will be standing right beside him as always.
“Any time someone in your life needs that help, support, a hug, or anything, I would give anything to give that to her,” he says. “Whether it’s giving my time, my effort, my money, or my life, anything would be at the drop of a hat for her, and I know she would do the same for me.”
It’s clear this relationship has been a decade of laughter, sacrifice, joy, tears, and most importantly, love.
Now, with their daughter ready to join the family, Le hopes to secure another mesmerizing victory at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX and bring the ONE Featherweight World Championship back home to Louisiana for her arrival.
But none of it would be possible without Collying.
“We’ve been married for only three-and-a-half years, but really, we’ve been married for ten years when I first kissed her and knew her as a person,” Le says. “I knew I found the person I was meant to be with for the rest of my life. We were married from that point on.”