Vietnam's answer to Don King aims for boxing glory

Kim Sang Bum walks into his club and enters a room filled with boxing equipment, a champion's belt and photos of well-known boxers on the wall.

Vietnam's answer to Don King aims for boxing glory
Kim Sang Bum (left) trains with Vietnam's first WBO Asia Pacific champion Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi. Photo thethaohcm.vn

Every member of Cocky Buffalo Boxing Club must go through this room and see these items that signify their hopes and dreams before entering the training area.

Kim has been branded Vietnam's ‘Don King’ by some, and he doesn't lack the legendary American showman's confidence.

He thinks he's going to bring a local boxer to a world championship before long. 

Love at first sight

The 27-year-old Kim suffered failure after years in Japan and China as well as in his home country of South Korea before he came to Vietnam in 1998.

“I had many businesses. I went to many countries and met many people. I had grabbed successes but I had not felt really happy yet. I arrived in Vietnam and felt peaceful here," Kim told Việt Nam News.

“I saw many young people and I believed that a country with a young population would have great future and potential,” Kim said. “And I am not wrong. I have found my second home where I will stay and contribute all of my heart.”

Kim has loved boxing since he was a small boy and worked for the mixed martial art association when he was in South Korea before becoming a promoter.

When he arrived in Vietnam he found it was a country of great sporting spirit with many talented athletes but they didn't know how to take the next step.

“I saw their admiration and enthusiasm. But they had no mentor who could guide them the right way. I felt sorry for them and thought about giving a hand to help them.

“I wanted to help boxing athletes because it is my favourite sport. I want to create champions and make history here,” said Kim, who has worked with many Korean boxing legends such as Yoo Myung Woo, Park Yeong Yun and Hong Soo Hwan.

To carry out his plans, Kim made a reckless decision and sold everything in South Korea to move to Vietnam.

He opened several clubs in HCM City but was unsuccessful. At that time many people in Vietnam thought boxing and Muay Thai were not sports.

“It was a difficult road. I used to be very close to the abyss. But luckily, I received strong financial support and encouragement from both Korean and Vietnamese friends. Without them, I would have given up already,” said Kim.

Kim started to find success when he found his current partners.

“In my first meeting with Kim, he told me about his dream of making Vietnamese boxers champions. He showed me his plans which I was really persuaded by. Then, we joined hands to establish the Cocky Buffalo Club,” said Hwang Seok Jin, vice president of Cocky Buffalo.

“It was not easy for us to get a licence for operation here as we were foreigners. At the time, boxing in Vietnam was an amateur or semi-professional sport only. And we also had the problem of capital too,” said Hwang. 

Dedicated promoter

Kim wanted to first work with smaller fighters, starting from flyweight (52kg) to bantamweight (56kg) and then lightweight (60kg).

Vietnam's answer to Don King aims for boxing glory
Kim Sang Bum (right) works not only as a promoter but also a trainer at the Cocky Buffalo Club. Photo courtesy of Cocky Buffalo Club

“To earn people’s trust, I must show them how I train the world champions quickly even though they are from lightweight categories,” said Kim.

“I use my personal money to pay their salary, meals, accommodation, training equipment and even hospital bills. I want to support them with all of my ability so that they don’t have to worry about anything, but just boxing,” said Kim.

 

After three years, Cocky Buffalo has still not turned a profit, but Kim is undeterred.

“We are still suffering losses currently. If I decrease the number of athletes and expenses on supporting them, we would be alright. But I accept to cover losses to help them,” said Kim who has to work harder in his other business interests, which include hospitality, Korean cosmetics, ginseng and other products, while searching for sponsors for the club.

Kim’s main tasks are to organise and market boxing matches. But he also regularly checks in on the athletes and trains them.

“I want to ‘repair’ their weaknesses and help them bring into play their strong points,” he said.

The South Korean does not seek perfect boxers but those willing to grow through blood, sweat and tears spilled in the ring.

“The champions must be the most hard-working ones,” said the 49-year-old.

Kim also invites athletes from countries such as the Philippines and Ukraine to practice in his club to help Vietnamese boxers gain experience and improve their technique.

When Vietnamese athletes reach a higher rank in the world, Kim hopes to invite high-quality boxers and competitions run by the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) to the country.

There are fewer than 10 professional boxers in Vietnam and Kim’s club is home to three.

Among them, Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi is expected to become the first Vietnamese world champion.

Nhi won the WBO Asia Pacific Boxing Title’s minimumweight (45kg) in Cambodia in March. It earned her the right to fight Etsuko Tada of Japan for the WBO title which has, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, been rescheduled for February 27 in Vietnam.

The other two are Sam Minh Phat and Dinh Hong Quan who also target Asian and world competitions in the coming two years.

“I am really confident that in the next 10 years, Vietnam will have world champions. What we need is meticulous investment in boxers who are smart, agile and hard-working,” said Kim.

Vietnam's answer to Don King aims for boxing glory
South Korean Kim Sang Bum will make history with first Vietnamese world boxing champions. Photo courtesy of Cocky Buffalo

Currently, Kim is setting up another boxing club in HCM City that is expected to be finished in early 2021.

He said it would be the largest and most advanced centre in the country which could host huge events and profits from that will be reinvested in his athletes.

After more than 22 years living in Vietnam, Kim believes the sport is how he contributes to his second home and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow South Korean, football coach Park Hang-seo.

“I have not yet thought about returning to South Korea. I still have many things to do here. Years ago I dreamed to help Vietnamese boxers to win world titles. Now I want boxing to be as popular and loved as football in Vietnam,” said Kim.

“Park is my idol and I will try my best to reach his level and do something good for Vietnamese boxing.” VNS

Thanh Ha

First Vietnamese female boxer wins WBO Asia Pacific competition

First Vietnamese female boxer wins WBO Asia Pacific competition

Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi has become the first Vietnamese female boxer to win the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Asia Pacific competition in Cambodia on February 29.

Vietnamese boxers punch above their weight

Vietnamese boxers punch above their weight

All eyes will be on Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi when she fights for the World Boxing Organisation Asia Pacific minimumweight title on Saturday in Cambodia.

 
 

Other News

.
Huong Pagoda Festival canceled because of Covid-19 pandemic
Huong Pagoda Festival canceled because of Covid-19 pandemic
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  07/02/2021 

The Huong Pagoda Festival in 2021 would be canceled for the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sai Gon FC plan to send players to Japan
Sai Gon FC plan to send players to Japan
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  06/02/2021 

This year, Sai Gon FC plan to send two players to compete for FC Ryukyu in Japan, who play in the J2 League.

Local movie industry at stake this Tet
Local movie industry at stake this Tet
FEATUREicon  07/02/2021 

The Lunar New Year (Tet) has always been an ideal occasion for film distributors, but it will probably be different in 2021. 

HCM City to open book street festival to mark Tet holiday
HCM City to open book street festival to mark Tet holiday
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  06/02/2021 

Thousands of books are set to go on show at the annual book street festival which will take place in downtown Ho Chi Minh City from February 9 to February 15 in celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet.

Oldest bookstore on Hanoi's Dinh Le Street
Oldest bookstore on Hanoi's Dinh Le Street
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  07/02/2021 

Nestled quietly in the small attic of the old dormitory on Dinh Le Street in Hanoi, Mao Bookstore has become a familiar destination for book lovers in the capital city.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai to face An Giang in National Cup opener
Hoang Anh Gia Lai to face An Giang in National Cup opener
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  05/02/2021 

Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) have been handed a straightforward National Cup draw against An Giang FC in the qualifying round following the online draw held on Tuesday in Hanoi.

Quang Hai named among most valuable players of ASEAN teams
Quang Hai named among most valuable players of ASEAN teams
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  05/02/2021 

Vietnamese midfield maestro Nguyen Quang Hai of Hanoi FC has been named in a list featuring the most valuable footballers playing for ASEAN teams, as announced by website Asean Football.

Hanoi to set off fireworks at only one location in Lunar New Year’s Eve
Hanoi to set off fireworks at only one location in Lunar New Year’s Eve
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  04/02/2021 

The capital city of Hanoi will cancel fireworks display in all of its 30 districts as planned in the Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on February 11, in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Kitchen Gods ceremony a tradition of Tet
Kitchen Gods ceremony a tradition of Tet
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  04/02/2021 

The Vietnamese traditional New Year (Tet) festival actually begins on the 23rd of the last month of the lunar year, which falls on February 4 this year, with the “Ong Cong - Ong Tao” (Land Genie and Kitchen Gods) ritual.

Spring colours featured at village
Spring colours featured at village
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  05/02/2021 

A series of annual cultural activities to welcome spring by various ethnic minority groups will be held throughout February at the Vietnam Village for Ethnic Cultures and Tourism.

Midfielder Nguyen, a rising star of Hai Phong
Midfielder Nguyen, a rising star of Hai Phong
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  05/02/2021 

Nguyen Phu Nguyen's sparkling form has helped Hai Phong FC become the surprise V.League 1 leaders as the season is paused due to the pandemic.

Vibrant spring energy on show in art exhibition
Vibrant spring energy on show in art exhibition
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/02/2021 

An art exhibition to celebrate the success of the 13th Party Congress and the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (February 3) has opened in Hanoi.

New book on Tet released
New book on Tet released
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/02/2021 

A new book on the culture and lifestyle of Vietnamese people during Tet (Lunar New Year festival) has been released in HCM City.

Hanoi's historical sites brought to life
Hanoi's historical sites brought to life
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/02/2021 

Student Dang Viet Loc won first prize at a drawing contest held by the Centre for Scientific and Cultural Activities of the Temple of Literature.

Goalkeeper Lam joins Cerezo Osaka of Japan
Goalkeeper Lam joins Cerezo Osaka of Japan
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/02/2021 

Cerezo Osaka of Japan have announced their successful signing of goalkeeper Dang Van Lam from Muangthong United of Thailand.

New insights on Emperor Gia Long
New insights on Emperor Gia Long
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/02/2021 

To commemorate 200 years of death of Emperor Gia Long in the Lunar calendar, Hue Monuments Conservation Centre held the opening ceremony of an exhibition on Emperor Gia Long at Long An Palace, Hue Royal Antiquities Museum. 

V-League postponed amid COVID-19 outbreak
V-League postponed amid COVID-19 outbreak
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/02/2021 

The fourth round of the 2021 V-League has been delayed due to the spread of Covid-19 in some provinces in Vietnam.

New museum about Ho Chi Minh Campaign opens in HCM City
New museum about Ho Chi Minh Campaign opens in HCM City
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/02/2021 

A new museum showcasing items and documents about the Ho Chi Minh Campaign in April 1975 has opened in HCM City.

Chance encounter with a Thai wedding
Chance encounter with a Thai wedding
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/02/2021 

Hoa Village is home to Black Thai people, with stilt houses made of cement and metal frames resembling those in Doi Village.

Sculptors showcase pottery artworks to mark their club's opening
Sculptors showcase pottery artworks to mark their club's opening
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/02/2021 

Nearly 100 pieces of pottery by members of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association are on display at an exhibition in Hanoi.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN